The SuperOffice blog sums it up best: “Customer experience is the new battlefield.”
This is as true for rideshare as it is for any other service business. Whether the passenger is deciding between Uber vs. Lyft doesn’t matter. What does matter is how a passenger was treated on their last rideshare. What was their experience? Did the driver play loud and annoying music? Was their driving erratic? Did they make off-color comments? Or was it a pleasant experience?
In the world of rideshare, customer experience translates into whether you are a 5-star driver. You can set the stage for a great customer experience in your rideshare car before you even meet the passenger. You do that with a 5-star rating. When a customer’s app flashes that a driver has accepted their ride, and that driver has a 5-star rating, there is an expectation for a certain level of service.
Rider satisfaction is important, not just for your ratings but for tips, too. It is a vital part of your Lyft and Uber driver strategy. In fact, to drive Uber Black SUV and Uber Comfort, you must have a rating of 4.85 or higher.
In this blog post, we will address how you can get and keep a 5-star rating. Topics include
- Make customer service a goal of your Lyft or Uber driver strategy.
- The in-car experience.
- Other advice on ratings.
- Gridwise can help.
Make customer service a goal of your Lyft or Uber driver strategy
Doing so starts before your passenger even gets in the car.
Have a clean car
Your car is the next thing the passenger sees as you drive up, and from this, they continue to form an opinion. Is it clean? Does it shine? Do I want to ride in this car? A sparkling car goes a long way toward making a first impression.
Get your car washed regularly. DetailProPOS.com, a website in the car wash industry, reports that 51% of car wash users prefer in-bay automatics. These are drive-through car washes, including those as part of a gas station or stand-alone drive-through car washes. They are quick and easy. The driver never has to get out of the car. If you want to go a step further, carry a chamois in your trunk and give your car a quick wipe-down afterward.
PRO TIP: Car washes love to offer monthly passes. It creates cash flow and customer loyalty for them, and if you shop right, you can get a pass with unlimited washes. Ten minutes a day before each shift, and your car is always clean.
Don’t forget to give the inside a once over
Most car washes include a vacuum station. Take a few more minutes to hoover up the remnants of the previous night’s passengers. Get rid of all the empty water bottles, gum wrappers, and anything else cluttering the car.
Take the time to confirm the destination
The rideshare app displays the passenger’s destination, but it is always a good idea to verify it’s the correct destination. The customer’s app saves the destinations they most frequently travel to. It is not unheard of for the customer to swipe the wrong destination, especially late at night when they’ve been out clubbing and had a few drinks.
The in-car experience
A great photo and a clean car are a good start. Now it’s time to focus on what the customer experiences inside your car.
Music: The great equalizer
Passengers almost always love music. The most successful drivers have found that an eclectic mix works best: jazz, swing, big band, blues, soul, and classic rock. Use one of the popular programs, such as Spotify or Amazon Music, to collect and curate different genres. Especially on longer rides, ask your passengers what they like.
PRO TIP 1: If you are driving a group of people to a concert, find out who the performers are and play them. Passengers consider it an excellent warm-up to the performance.
PRO TIP 2: One Southern California driver reported two songs that almost always generate a tip, A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash and, strangely enough, Tu es Partout by French singer Edith Phaff. “The last thing I ever expected to hear in a rideshare was Edith Phaff,” he recalled a passenger saying one night, as she handed him a $20 tip.
Gum, mints, and candy
These items are popular if you do airport runs. People get off the plane with dragon breath and are looking for something to freshen their mouth before that business meeting.
When you pick up a passenger from a restaurant and they have a sesame seed caught between their teeth, there is not much else they can think about. The ones individually wrapped in cellophane are perfect. Passengers will be thankful.
Maintain a selection of charging cords for people who took too many videos and photos at the concert. They’ll need to recharge. Keep extras. Charging cords tend to walk away.
Keep a case in your trunk. Leave a bottle or two in the back seat, and have another in the front seat that you can hand to the passenger who likes to ride shotgun. Make it a policy to check your car after every ride for empties or half-consumed bottles. They look uncool.
Consider yourself a tour guide
If you get lots of airport runs or passenger pickups at the downtown hotels, you’ll get people who have likely not spent much time in the area. They’ll want to know about the best restaurants and bars, the must-see attractions, and the most stunning sunsets. If you can give them answers and directions, they’ll remember you.
Be a great conversationalist
Most passengers are friendly and eager to talk. Send out a few feeler questions such as, “How is your day so far?” Other passengers will launch right into a full-blown conversation. They might even ask you how you like being a rideshare driver. If you are one of those drivers that find joy in meeting people and driving around the city, convey it to your passengers. People love to meet others who enjoy what they do for a living.
Practice the rules of great conversations. According to the Personal Excellence blog, these include
- Be genuinely interested in the person.
- Focus on the positive.
- Put the person in their best light.
- Respect. Don’t impose, criticize, or judge.
One of the interesting aspects of being a rideshare driver is anonymity. Because most passengers don’t expect to see you again, they will often tell you very personal stories. Every rideshare driver can tell you stories and what they’ve heard in their car. Be empathetic and respect their confidentiality.
Read the mood of the car
Some people don’t want to talk to the driver. Especially when there are two or three passengers, they would rather talk among themselves. Other passengers will tell you they would rather not talk, or they might have earbuds. You need to be sensitive to the mood of the car.
Learn basic phrases of the dominant second language in your region
People are impressed when you take time to learn their language, especially if you ask their advice on the proper greeting in a given setting (in some languages, for example, the smallest nuance can change the way you greet somebody or say something). There are several apps you can download on your phone for learning any number of languages.
Treat everyone as if they matter
Every passenger can leave a rating, and sometimes that passenger is the one you’d least expect to give you a rating, let alone a tip. Treat each passenger like they are the only passenger you’ve had that day, and that they matter.
Other advice on ratings
Show women passengers that you care about their safely
One rideshare driver, a father of daughters, watched as the women passengers he’d pick up in the evenings walked to their front door. He wanted to make sure they got in safely. “I quickly perceived that they were uncomfortable with me watching,” he said, “so I made it a point of explaining to them that I was making sure they got in safely.” The driver reported that as soon as he started explaining what he was doing, 75% of those women tipped, and his ratings crept up, as well.
Ask for a 5-star rating
There is an ongoing debate among drivers about whether it is a good idea to solicit tips. The subject draws strong feelings each way. There is nothing wrong, however, with soliciting a good rating when you feel it is appropriate. Try an innocuous request such as, “If you are so moved, it would be great if you could leave a 5-star rating on the app. It really helps me.” People are happy to comply.
Head off problems when you see them
We all get them, those passengers who can’t be pleased. Either they’re not happy with your route, or you didn’t drive fast enough to get them to an appointment they were late for in the first place. If you think they will leave you a bad rating, and it is unwarranted, send a comment to the rideshare company through the app. Do it right away so that you get your comments in first. The rideshare company is more apt to consider your story if you report your side first, especially if you otherwise have a good rating. Lyft explains how to do this on its website.
Give a helping hand
Pickups from the grocery store involve bags, and almost all airport passengers have a suitcase. A passenger will remember if you helped to load those bags of groceries, or hefted a suitcase into the trunk of your rideshare car. Opening the door whenever you can for passengers is also a nice touch.
Check out other Gridwise posts on boosting your ratings
At Gridwise we know that ratings are important. We have published other blog posts about the subject. Check out How to Improve Your Rideshare Driver Ratings, a blog post from last year. A few years ago we published another post, How Rideshare Drivers Can Start Conversations That Lead to Tips and 5-star Ratings.
How can you tell if you are delivering great customer service? Watch your ratings. In a more recent blog post, Gridwise revealed that tips average a little more than 10% of Lyft or Uber driver earnings. If you are making more, take that as a sign that you have high rider satisfaction.
Use rideshare driver tools to boost your earnings
Getting and maintaining a 5-star rating as a rideshare driver is challenging. It requires that you be at the top of your game every minute. Take some of the stress out of the job by knowing when to be on the road and where to drive to get rides.
Going to and from the airport to pick up passengers? Don’t waste time waiting for rides during slow hours. Check out peak airport arrival/departure times so you know exactly when to be at the airport.
Not an airport driver? Stay up to date on the latest events in your area so you can catch passengers going to/from venues and bars.
And have fun out there.