I think Uber is most over-used representation of all things digital. But, besides being the digital service that brings true-and-true transportation convenience, there’s something else to observe. 

Here’s what I notice : Uber drivers are creating a positive impact to the social courtesy / social energy / social health here in the city. They are polite. They are courteous and often welcome open conversation. They drive in a far more relaxed manner than anyone on the road (including yours truly!)

And as passengers we reciprocate. I think any level-minded city dweller welcomes that. Here’s why :

  1. In KL, the effort of hailing a cab is ridiculous. Some cabbies have the cheek to refuse you a ride, saying its not in their destination path. Well, simply because they are already at where they want to be- nowhere. So, when an efficient and friendly service comes by, it’s a breath of fresh air!
  2. There’s that daily rush, and we sorely lack taking a moment to say hi – in elevators, during walk-bys in the office. Or to get to know someone new without the fear of receiving hostility. 
  3. This is arguably the best gap plug in the public transportation in KL. Ever. Get a ride from anywhere to anywhere in minutes at the right rates all the time. 

Someone pointed out that it’s simply because of the rating survey, conducted right after every Uber ride. The passenger and driver have a chance to rate each other, hence the need to be “nice to each other” through out the ride. Now, before you dismiss this as a greedy, benefits-driven behavior, let’s expand that a little bit.

  1. Yes, ratings have that effect on people. You and I and that Uber dude want to be highly rated. But look a little deeper. Fundamentally, as consumers you want good, nice service. As service providers, you want loyal customers. And when you have that plus courtesy, it’s not a bad win-win as a result of ratings. 
  2. And any city like KL could use this free positive energy! At a time when the economic, political and social fabrics are being strained at every corner, give yourself that chance to play a role in being nice – as you take a ride.

What’s this got to do with business technology? Well, here’s a thought – for the next digital service that you’re thinking of launching, think of how your app / service can be a positive force in society. How can it drive better interactions and outcomes for the users and providers. That might just help drive up adoption of your app because it addresses the fundamental human need to have healthy social interactions. Think about it.