In early 2020, I joined the B2B unit of SHARE NOW which is responsible for acquiring and retaining business customers. One of the main tasks at that time was to establish a strategy and derive initiatives that would contribute to that target.
While I can't go into detail for reasons of confidentiality, in a nutshell the goal was to have a more attractive offering for large corporations. Leveraging the feedback that our Sales Executives frequently receive from our business customers, we realized that one of the most pressing issues is the lack of being able to attach an expense note to a SHARE NOW trip.
This could create a number of issues for either the company or the employee. In the best case, companies wouldn't be able to assign expenses to certain teams or departments and thus be left in the dark about where exactly their money goes. In the worst case, drivers wouldn't be able to get the money reimbursed from their company and would thus effectively be left with the costs of the trip.
Jobs to be Done
As an accountant, I want to see the correct cost center on the invoice so I know what team to assign it to.
As a driver, I want to be able to enter an expense note so I can file my travel expenses for reimbursement.
As a driver, I want a way to have a way to enter my expense note in case I don't know or forgot it so I don't have to leave it empty.
As a travel manager, I want to be able to group my drivers into pre-defined cost centers or projects so there won't be any miscommunication or manual effort for the drivers.
Quick explanation: SHARE NOW for Business covers two types of business customers. On the one hand there are employees who were invited to drive on a collective account their company has created. On the other hand there are employees who use SHARE NOW for business trips but are not connected to a particular company. The issue is relevant for both of those customers.
How might we enable drivers to add the right cost center or project reference to their SHARE NOW invoice?
The key learning we had during our discovery process was that companies have vastly different setups when it comes to accounting and bookkeeping. In larger corporations, every employee is generally attached to one single fixed cost center for the entire duration of the employment. Freelancers, agencies or consultancies however would mostly keep their books by project references. Any employee could work on multiple projects at any given time time and in addition, projects would come and go.
So it was clear to us that we needed to find a solution that would fit both ends of the spectrum and allow for maximum flexibility for our business customers.
Another learning was that cost centers and projects references tend to come with cryptic names that are nearly impossible to remember. They would often be a sequence of digits and letters, some special characters and sometimes the name of the team, department or project.
Digging deeper, we started looking for the smallest common denominator between cost centers and project references. We found that in a nutshell both were a group of people congregated under a certain umbrella for accounting purposes. Hence we came up with the concept of simply grouping the drivers on your business account.
Our hypothesis was that this concept would allow travel managers to group their employees in whatever way that would reflect the accounting structure of the company. It would be entirely up to the company's travel manager if they wanted a certain employee to be a part of multiple groups simultaneously or only one group at a time.
Through interviews with our internal travel management department, competitor analysis and some desk research, we were able to get more insights and found that Uber took a very similar approach.
We then continued to build a prototype and run a hand full of usability tests. For this, we recruited our participants from a wide range of industries such as the movie industry, banking and real estate to cover both extremes of the spectrum.
What we found was that in general, the naming and concept were concrete enough to make its purpose clear but at the same time everyone was apply it to their own needs. The only issue we observed is that half the participants would've instinctively assumed the feature to sit in the "drivers" page. However, all of those participants were able to move on to the groups tab without aid so our conclusion was that our solution wasn't necessarily optimal but certainly worked for a first iteration.
Having successfully tested a broader version of the concept, we started looking into what parts of it could be released as an MVP to learn more on production. To minimize time until the project would see the light of day, we let drivers in the first instance only enter their cost center or project reference manually before a trip. This wouldn't solve the problem that drivers couldn't remember their cost center or project ID but it would at least onboard a good proportion of our customer base.
At the same time, another team would start building the skeleton for the second iteration which would allow travel administrators to assign drivers to groups. Those drivers would then be able to select their cost center or project reference at the beginning of a trip from a dropdown rather than having to enter it manually.
Shipping the first version with the free-text input, we immediately saw that between 10 to 20% of all our business trips had an expense note attached to them which was a larger amount than we initially thought. This showed us that there was definitely a need for such a feature and even though it didn't directly contribute to revenue, it certainly increased the usability of our service as a whole.
Unfortunately, the second version is still work in progress and delayed due to internal topics, so no quantitative insights can be drawn as of today.