[Update 2018!] Rider Interaction Strategies for When You’re Stuck in Traffic

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For many drivers, the absolute best part of the job is interacting with passengers.

Yes, we are in this to get paid. No, there is absolutely zero chance we would be doing this if we didn’t see the direct deposit hitting our bank accounts. However, on a day to day basis, getting to know new people can be the most rewarding part of the job.

I recently got a chance to sit down and talk to a Philadelphia area driver named Valery who had just been driving for about two months but was already full of stories.

Valery drives on the south side of Philly and often finds herself with college-age passengers that are more than willing to open up, especially on a longer ride. One rider, in particular, was having a stressful day and Valery lent him her ear.

“We’re kind of like bartenders.” says Valery, “He was stressed about balancing classes and working and I just provided an ear.”

After cathartic ride where Valery just listened and provided a few words of wisdom, she received her biggest tip to date, $20, and a hug. Valery says the tip was great, but the hug was what made her day. “I’m sure I’ll get lots of tips, but it’s not every day you can make a real impact on peoples lives.”

Now, most drivers aren’t measuring success by the number of hugs they give throughout the day, but we do appreciate meaningful interactions like these.

So in today’s blog post, we’re going to look at a few ways that drivers can have meaningful interactions with their customers that can lead to hugs, and maybe even a few tips!

Check their body language

Right after you confirm the identity of your passenger, take a few seconds to read their body language.

Is your passenger on their phone? Do they have headphones in? Do they look frantic? Try your best to understand the state of the passenger so you know how to move the conversation forward.

If the passenger looks a bit frantic like they may be in a rush, go ahead and ask them if they are in a hurry and assure them that you’ll do your best to safely get them to their destination as quickly as possible.

Gauge their willingness to chat with small talk

Regardless of the passenger’s body language, everyone isn’t up for a conversation and you don’t need to try and force one.

We’ve all been in the situation where we’re forced into a conversation we do not want to have. Think about the last party you went to that had people you don’t know. Even if you were invited by your friends, there was a chance that you’d end up stuck in a conversation that you didn’t want to have. It sucked, didn’t it?

Now, imagine that you’re stuck in a mid-sized sedan with a well-intentioned stranger who is trying a little too hard to force chit-chat. On top of that, you’re stuck in this car for longer than you expected because of traffic.

Don’t put anyone in that situation who doesn’t want to be in that situation. You should never feel like you absolutely need to break the ice.

Along the same lines, be ready with basic small talk responses if the customer reacts positively to your comments. Knowing how to really engage in small talk is paramount if you’re pushing for that extra tip, but can also help to increase your positive reviews.

Here are a few topics that are always great:

  • Talking about the weather is always a great way to break the ice
  • What’s going on with the local sports team? If your passenger looks like they are into sports (Have a sports shirt, jersey, or hat) then talking sports is a great way to connect
  • Does your passenger look like a tourist? Give them some information about the city. Let them know of great places to eat, drink, or have a good time
  • Speaking of places to have a good time, if you’re a Gridwise user you can let your passengers know of any events that you think are cool around the city by checking the event feed

 

Is your passenger looking for fun? Use Gridwise to let them know what’s going on around town!

 

Don’t be afraid to sit in silence

Silence is golden, or so they say. It may seem like a simple concept, but it can be stressful! Sitting in traffic with only horns and engines sounding in the background can be unnerving for sure. Don’t sweat it too much, though! Remember: they requested an Uber to get from point A to point B.

Tell us more about the rider interaction strategies you take when talking to customers in the comments section below!

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