Not too long ago, we talked about how much driver ratings really matter. As you may recall, the seemingly innocuous difference between five stars and four is actually a pretty steep drop. Depending on what city you drive in, the rating cutoff for a driver may loom a lot closer than one might expect. All this was at the forefront of my mind when I took a string of Ubers while on vacation. The poor customer service I experienced with these cars pushed me to write the Uber blog below.
What You Can Learn From an Honest Rider Uber Blog
On my trip, I was reminded that driving for a rideshare service like Lyft and Uber is an incredibly social occupation. To say that it requires “people-skills” is an understatement if ever there was one. It’s worth noting at this time that all drivers could benefit from taking a ride and seeing things from the passenger’s seat.
Observing another driver may give you insight into how to offer a superior riding experience, ideas for your vehicle, or even the chance to learn a new area of town better. Seriously, just think of it as business research.
In my travels, I wrote this Uber blog about my drivers’ social behavior that impacted my eventual rating decisions.
1. Trust your smartphone navigation
I rode with a driver who had a clear distaste for driving on the freeway. He mentioned that he hated sitting in traffic and that he would rather take surface streets. He seemed to feel that surface streets had less propensity to get stuck in a 5 MPH crawl.
I found this odd because I’ve made it to the airport consistently in an average of 18-20 minutes for the 10+ years I’ve lived here, using the freeway every time. To take surface streets would mean going out of our way excessively, almost in the opposite direction.
The driver dropped me off after a 42-minute ride because the surface streets ended up taking so much longer. I was quite frustrated because:
- a) traveling can be stressful.
- b) I had a plane to catch and time was of the essence.
- c) Even as the passenger, I knew better than to try and take surface streets.
The driver missed my social cues, as I asked several times about the route and basically insisted that the highway would be quicker. What he also seemed to miss was that I could see his smartphone navigation app advising him to change course and merge onto the freeway. (He seriously needs to ditch standard navigation and use Waze).
Had the driver trusted his navigation app, the ride would have been half the time and his rating would have fared far better.
2. Pick up on your passenger’s mood
On the last day of my trip, I hailed a ride very early in the morning. I was stiff and sore from a poor night’s sleep on a friend’s sofa and couldn’t wait to get home.
When the driver picked me up, we had a few moments of pleasantries and greetings, and then it was mercifully time for me to zone out. I had my headphones in and was even beginning to close my eyes for a moment. I mutedly heard the driver ask a question through my music and removed one of my headphones to be polite.
The driver and I chatted about San Fransisco, baseball, and the traffic, and then during a lull, I put my headphones back in. I reclined back, closed my eyes, but then once again, I heard a question. I popped out an earbud and asked that they repeat it.
Now I know that all this sounds pretty mundane, and I certainly was not upset with him, but he was misreading my mood. The headphones, posture, and especially my closing eyes were indications that I wasn’t feeling terribly awake, let alone talkative.
By picking up on my cues, he would have recognized that I was going to be a quiet passenger, and adjusted his customer rapport appropriately. These little things, when put together, make the difference between five stars and four.
3. Conversation no-no’s and decency
By far the most unfortunate ride I took was a driver who made me feel very uncomfortable because of the topics of conversation. He talked at length about his current relationship troubles, which at first wasn’t inappropriate, but it quickly became that way.
It was a little disturbing, made worse because of the impetus it put on me to try to change the topic without being callous. It was awkward. Then he had some disparaging words for previous passengers that he took issue with -also an unfortunate topic to steer a conversation to.
It can be easy to forget when you’re driving that you are a professional in your industry. Even though you have the freedom of schedule, your personal vehicle and belongings, and lots of riders every day – you are still in a customer facing occupation.
If something seems like a poor choice of topic for conversation, then just don’t go there. Passengers are all different, some may be making inappropriate jokes of their own. When in doubt, err on the side of respect and civility.
4. Politeness and manners
In an Uber in the Bay Area, I was having a lighthearted and fun conversation with my driver. She even had extra smartphone charging cables and some assorted candies.
After a little bit, she asked very politely if she could take a call coming in from her Bluetooth earpiece. I remember really appreciating that she asked, and was perfectly okay with it.
She took the call, handled her personal business, and was off the phone within a minute. The basic level of professionalism she extended to me, coupled with her safe driving and clean vehicle, made it very easy for me to give five stars without hesitation.
Some people may not think much of a phone call, but as we mentioned before, there are ways to differentiate yourself from other drivers and earn better ratings (and tips). You can earn some points by putting a passenger’s luggage in the trunk for them, asking them if the temperature is comfortable, even simple compliments go a long way.
It doesn’t take much to be polite, and it makes a positive impact on your ratings. So, why not try it out? Otherwise your passengers may be forced to write their own Uber blog!
Have you been an Uber rider before? If you were to write your own Uber blog, what advice would you give? Let us know in the comments below!
UP NEXT: Driver Ratings: The Numbers Matter