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How rider feedback shapes Waymo’s fully autonomous ride-hailing service

November 23, 2020

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Feedback is important for companies to understand how customers feel about their products and services. When riders provide feedback to autonomous technology company Waymo, their input helps shape the future of a technology that could transform how people and things move around.

In early October, Waymo announced that – for the first time – the general public would be able to take trips with Waymo One, the company’s fully autonomous ride-hailing service, without a trained vehicle operator in the front seats.

While the announcement marked a milestone for Waymo and the autonomous ride-hailing industry as a whole, the company has provided rides with its autonomous driving technology to residents in the Phoenix East Valley since 2017. Riders have had the opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences, and their responses to additional surveys and questionnaires continue to help shape the future of shared mobility.

Naomi Guthrie, a senior user experience researcher at Waymo, spoke with Sonoran Living, a midday show that airs on the ABC affiliate in Phoenix, about how the company uses insights from the most common feedback to evolve and iterate its service to better serve riders. 

“I work on our insights team and we help to advocate for internal product decisions that respond to the needs of real people, in order to build something that those real people will want to use and want to engage with,” Guthrie explained.

The Waymo team engages riders in many ways, from taking trips alongside them to speaking with them on the phone or in person, sending surveys, and reviewing ratings received through Waymo’s ride-hailing app. 

“We are looking for feedback on everything from how a trip gets created to what types of trips they might want to use Waymo for, [and] how the Waymo Driver chooses to route; everything,” Guthrie said.

The insights team at Waymo collects rider feedback and then works alongside team members in design, marketing, engineering, product, operations, and other functions to strategize about how to put the insights and feedback into action.

Most first-time passengers are excited to ride in an autonomously driven vehicle. Guthrie said Waymo aims to build a service that is more than a novel experience. Rider feedback helps build a service that is convenient and intuitive.

Some examples of changes that Waymo has deployed based on rider feedback include adding messaging, either in Waymo’s app or on the in-car screen, to share when a route might be a little different than a rider expected, or setting even more specific expectations about where the car might pull over at the end of a trip.

“We are constantly evolving, constantly iterating, and we are so appreciative to our riders and our community who not only shape our Waymo One service but also self-driving as a whole,” Guthrie said.

Learn more about Waymo One at waymo.com.