content collaboration: Micromobility Industries

March was a historically difficult month for micromobility, with most operators partially or completely shutting down operations because of COVID-19. While App Store data cannot tell us how ridership is changing in absolute terms, it can provide us with insight into how the different micromobility companies are faring relative to one another in the eyes of customers in these uncertain times.

In March, Lime continued to hold the top spot in App Store user ratings (4.86/5), among all micromobility companies. Lime also saw the highest App Store activity, as measured by the number of user reviews, among all the players worldwide.

Overall user satisfaction remained relatively steady compared to February 2020. Tier saw an increase of 1.4% in user satisfaction, followed by Hive (0.8%). Singapore-based Beam saw a decline of -0.7%, followed by Helbiz (-0.6%).

The total number of App Store reviews fell 8% compared to February data, as people traveled less and fewer scooters were put in circulation due to COVID-19 concerns. Hive’s activity declined the most month-over-month (-52%), followed by Skip (-50%). Despite the challenging circumstances, Tier and Wind actually saw their App Store activity increase by 48% and 39%, respectively, versus February. Viewed as standalone entities, Bird App Store activity spiked about 60% in March compared to its February numbers, while Bird-subsidiary Circ saw its activity collapse by 60%.

Viewed as a single company, Bird/Circ owned 22.2% of the pie last month in terms of total App Store activity, well behind Lime, which controlled 58.6%. Neuron Momobility saw the largest month-over-month increase in App Store activity (14.3%), followed by Beam (8.4%) and Tier (8.1%).

If app store activity is an indicator of market share, five operators, Lime, Bird, Spin, Grin, and Voi, provided more than 90% of trips globally.

Lime was the most popular app last month, controlling 30.3% of activity globally. It also led in key App Stores, including Germany, where it beat Voi (55.1% to 21.9%), in France, where Dott came in second (62.1% to 24.9%), and the U.S., where Bird was number two (45.1% to 28.6%).

User Reported Issues

Going through all user-reported issues in March from the App Stores’ comment sections, most of scooter issues can be grouped into the following categories:

  • App Issue
  • Scooter Issue
  • Cost
  • Unable to Start Ride
  • Unable to End Ride
  • Customer Support
  • Other

App Issue – 28%: Bugs related to the sharing app were the most-reported user problem in March, similar to the previous month (34%). Users reported issues with login, time to load, payment setup, and more. There were two reports where users couldn’t enter the zip code under payment information, thereby preventing them from renting a scooter.

Can't update payment info. Everything goes in correctly but it does not allow me to enter a zip code at all.

One user claimed that the Bird app requested access to their phone’s microphone. This may have been an isolated incident related to a recent app update, because neither the Android or iOS versions of the Bird app currently list microphone access under permissions.

After updating to the last version started to show poopup 'something went wrong, please update to latest version'. Also still throws error about not having the right to use microphone. I dont want you to use microphone. Your app keeps wakingup by itself and uses location and microphone. This is just wrong.

Grin’s decision to remove Facebook authentication appears to be hurting its standing among users who use their social media account to log into the scooter app. 

This was a great app to get around but then the Facebook login has been taken away and I can no longer use this. I tried sending an email to get customer support about this but no response and still no way to access the scooters. Fix it!!

Others reported they had difficulty with the onboarding process.  

If I could rate lower I would. For the id verification process, u have to have a driver's license. That's not what the app says though. It even offers two other options one being a state id and/ or a passport. Now I opted to the state id but when I was wondering why it was taking so long I emailed customer service. I was then told I was required to have a driver's license. You need to fix the app on that or start accepting state IDs. The only thing that does work are the scooters themselves. Sad

Scooter Issue – 12%: Problems with the scooters themselves are a common source of frustration, with many reporting failing brakes, low batteries, and devices shutting down midway through trips. The percentage of issues related to devices remained the same as in February.

One Bird user claimed  that their scooter accelerated involuntarily, resulting in an accident.

DO NOT RENT THIS SCOOTER! It speeds up even if you havent manually done so!!! I was in a terrible accident and when I went to the urgent care the DR told me they've had a lot of patients who had a similar situation as mine. These things are fast! It was fun at first until it got too much speed and the break on it wasnt that great. I hit concrete face first. NEVER AGAIN.

A few users complained about the uphill performance of vehicles, including a set of users who wrote about Jump bikes and Lime scooters.

Bicycle's E-assist didn't work uphill, and we were fined $25 for "outside service area" despite returning our bikes to the EXACT SAME BIKE RACK and not getting any notifications or warnings in the app.
Scooters are not strong enough for hilly San Francisco. Sometimes the scooter will just stop, not because of the battery or anyting, and support says too bad you used it for more than six minutes so you don't get a refund. Scoot and Skip and any other option would never do that. Stupid customer service, they don't value you, go with someone else

Surprisingly, there are still reports on vehicles with dead batteries.

Every time I try to get a yulu bike it is not available anywhere. All the bikes lying in the stand are out of battery. Availability of the properly charged bike is a big issue in Ahmedabad.

In a repeat of last month, another user reported that a faulty phone holder on a scooter resulted in a shattered screen..

The worst experience ever!! Cost me 300dirhams!!! Last time I used it, I placed my phone in the phone holder and while riding, my phone flew out and shattered 😡😡😡!!! The worst service ever !!! And circ never replies back !!

Cannot Start/End Ride – 13%: Starting and ending rides continue to be problem points for many users, especially the latter. About 8% of total user-reported issues were related to  ending a ride—a marginal improvement over last month (10%). Users reported multiple cases where an app started the trip timer, but the vehicle did not unlock. This is a classic case where operators do not check on the state of the vehicle before firing up the counter.

If you ever think wanting to give this a try, don't even bother. Upon scanning the barcode, this app started counting up my use. But the bike has not even gotten unlocked. No number to call. I was stranded there with absolutely no help. I left the bike intact afterwards. An hour later I got an automated email advising that I've been charged $22.20. What a "fantastic" first impression. The charge was eventually refunded. Obviously focussing on profit before customer. Stay away from this company.

The time it takes between the user to unlock the device on the app unlocking and the vehicle to unlock itself, as well as the time between  the user completing the trip and ending the ride on the app shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds each. Users of Spin reported locking taking more time (~3mins) to end ride and this seems to have happened multiple times for different users.

The amount of time it takes between the trip timer starting and the device unlocking should never take more than 5 seconds. Similarly, it should never take more than 5 seconds between a user completing a trip and the timer ending. Yet multiple users of Spin reported locking taking up to about 3 minutes.

Great riding experience however 1 star for taking 2-3 mins to lock after riding each time all the while you're being charged
I ended my ride at 4 min but timer kept going until 7. PC of junk app with some serious delay apparently

Customer Support, Cost, Overcharging, Others – 47%: There were more reports on issues with customer support in percentage in March (5%) vs February  (3%). In the App Store, Voi responded to almost all the negative reviews it received. Tier did the same as well, but stopped responding in mid-March. There are many operators who do not respond to messages posted on the App Store at all. It is important that operators interact with users who post negative reviews as they are a source of valuable learning, and if a solution is provided, those users might be willing to increase the rating.

There were multiple reports where operators debited cash from user credit cards without authorisation, only to refund a few days later. Users were also not happy with vehicles disappearing from the streets when operators stopped service because of COVID19.

If I could give 0 stars, I would. But it is not for the app itself, but for the company, as a sign of protest, due to their dumb decision to take all the scooters off the streets in a time in which people needed them the most, in order to avoid having to use public transportation (a lot of people in the same place).

In line with what we hear from a Bird scooter monthly rental user in the Micromobility Industries Triple-M channel, users are not happy with Bird stopping the monthly rental of scooters.

Giving monthly rental option and taking it away. Very unfortunate. Bye forever Bird. Permanently lost this customer.

There were multiple reports across the globe of users arriving at their destination, only to find that it is located in a no-parking zone. In other cases, users reporterd their scooters slowed down or shut off completely as they rode them into  slow-zone or a no-entry zone. From a users’ perspective, most of them do not check on these zones before renting, or they are simply not aware that these zones exist. It is also difficult for users to know which zone they are in, without having to look at their mobile phones constantly – which is not safe and not practical. I wish that operators come up with a creative solution to address this issue. Regular users of micromobility in Asia reported on constantly changing parking zones. In some cases, users couldn’t end their ride, though being in a parking zone or when they return the vehicles to the same place where they picked the vehicles from. Here are some of the user comments:

They did not explain that there are no ride zones and shut off the scooter then did not let me end the ride. I went to two different parking locations and it did not work. Had to turn of my device completely, took 10 minutes to end the ride. Will be emailing because I should not be charged for time I spent not riding
16 minute ride. 4 min at full speed, 5 min at 5 kph, apparently my destination is outside of the business area, 5 min back at 5 kph, 2 min trying to find a place to park and I was basically back to my starting point.

Users of micromobility, use them to save time, ditching other modes of transport. It should be a primary focus for operators to ensure that the entire experience is smooth and takes less time. As I always say, if you are a micromobility operator and if you don’t have a) time from App open to start ride b) time from arrival at the destination to end ride, as key KPI’s that you monitor for a ride, you are doing something wrong!

Note: Data gathered from 150+ Apple and Google app stores across the globe. If interested in more insights on the data collected, do send me a message!

Content Collaboration: Micromobility Industries is a digital media and events company devoted to the future of movement. Subscribe to their newsletter here.

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