Uber Drivers, Here’s What it Means to be in the Service Industry

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Lurking in the various forums, Facebook Groups and Pages, I see so many Uber drivers complaining about this passenger, and about that ride. One would think that we have forgotten that we are in the service industry.

Sure, some complaints may be valid, like a pax throwing up in your car or leaving trash everywhere. However, I see complaints of pax taking too long to come to the vehicle or a rider who wants to add an extra stop or give you turn-by-turn directions. Yes, I understand these can be annoying. However, they are customers. We, as drivers, are here to provide a service. When we signed up to become rideshare drivers, we understand that it’s our duty to provide quality service. We should always try to do this with a smile upon our faces.

Complimentary Items

Do Uber drivers need to have complimentary items? Early on in the rideshare gig, most drivers offered a lot of different things. It’s common to see bottled water, snacks, mints, charging cable, Wi-Fi, auxiliary cords, tissues, sanitizer, and even umbrellas in an Uber car. This trend has since faded away.

It isn’t so much that drivers need to have these items. All of these things are —again— complimentary. Many drivers drive and make good money, tips, and ratings without these extras.

Conversation Starter

I should point out, that even though these items are not truly needed, they are helpful in many ways. For one, they can be a great conversation starter. Pax take notice of what Uber drivers have to offer and some are very appreciative.

You have no idea the number of times a pax gets in my car, and are thankful I have water bottles or a car charger. These items show the pax the level of service you’re ready to provide for them.

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Think of it like you would with a 5-star restaurant or hotel. They offer free bread, water, mints, and even neatly folded linens in the shapes of swans or puppies. None of these is required. But they do it to display the high level of service guests can expect from them.

Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to each of the amenities that Uber drivers can offer their passengers. One benefit of offering complimentary items is that you can use them during tax season as a tax write off. One downside is getting selfish riders who snag up all your complimentary items for themselves. Another is having passengers who damage your devices such as chargers and tablets. Add to these a pax who leave their trash behind.

Below is a short list of items that I previously or currently have in my car:

  • Trash Can
  • Bottled Water
  • Mints
  • Tissues
  • Phone Charger
  • Auxiliary Cord
  • Tablet (Octopus Gaming Tablet)

Uber Drivers Contacting the Pax

Uber drivers should contact their pax whenever there is a problem. This is particularly important when the pax has not arrived at your pick-up point on time.

It’s a problem I see all the time, and drivers have found a way to use this to easily get a cancellation fee. This feels like drivers have gotten together on how to cheat the riders and even Uber itself.

5-Minute Wait Time

For Uber, all a driver has to do is wait for five minutes before tagging the rider as a no show. With Lyft, the driver has to at least make contact and wait for five minutes before they can say the pax is a no show and collect the cancellation fee.

Since Uber drivers are not required to call, many don’t contact the rider at all. I also know that a few drivers with Lyft will call, allow the phone to ring once just to show the technicality of an ‘attempt’. This is unjust and unfair to the riders.

Pick-Up Issues

Riders are paying for a service that we drivers are responsible for providing. Typically, riders are pinging our services without expecting that their driver will hang around for 10-15 minutes. However, there are times when we’re literally around the corner when we get the ride. Sometimes, the app doesn’t pinpoint the right location of the pax.

 

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It isn’t always the rider’s fault. Uber drivers should be accommodating to this. It isn’t that difficult to call the pax and let them know you’re already at the pick-up point.

Communication is part of customer service in the service industry. Drivers, I am talking to you, this is the industry we are in. Yes, time is money. You could even say that our wait time is grossly underpaid. But, I am not telling you to wait indefinitely for a pax or drive across town looking for the passenger. You just have to be reasonable and accommodating instead of looking for the quick way out.

Scenario 1

I will give you two personal examples. After receiving the ping for a pick-up, I called the pax after to make sure I was at the right location. Come to find out, they were just getting out of the airport and the app had pinned their location wrong. They apologized even though it’s more of the app’s fault. I told them it was okay and that I would be there shortly. I was only a 5-minute drive away and they were calling for an XL. In the end, the pax was understanding about the ordeal, tipped me $7 on the app and turned around and gave me $20 tip in cash. This was because they appreciated my service.

Communication was the winning part of the situation. They understood the app sent me to the wrong place, and that I could have simply canceled the ride and received a $5 cancellation fee from Lyft.

Scenario 2

A different scenario led me to an apartment complex to pick up this lady going about eight miles down the road. I get there and I waited three minutes before calling her. Pax told me I was at the right place but she was running a bit behind. She asked if I could wait for a few minutes and she would be right out.

I informed her that I would wait for a few more minutes, after that I would have no choice but to cancel the ride because I had other rides to give. The total wait time was eight minutes, which was generous. The lady never did come out, I ended up canceling the ride and collecting the cancellation fee.

Was the wait worth it? To me it was. My conscience was clear that I went above and beyond the status quo to please the pax. I know some of you drivers reading this would say it was not worth it and a waste of time. The way I choose to look at it is, yes, I consumed eight minutes of my time that could have gone toward another rider. However, it was a risk with a potentially high reward. With the wait time, the 8-mile distance, and the drive time, I could have made more than the $5 from the cancellation fee. Though I never expect it, this ride has the potential for a good tip should the rider appreciate my service.

Luggage and Shopping Bags

Drivers meet different types of riders. These include pax with their hands full, or are traveling with baggage. It goes without saying that we should at least try to be helpful.

I have seen a few drivers not even trying to get out of their vehicles to help load up pax. Sure, it could be a small inconvenience for us drivers to do so. Yet, this small gesture can easily ensure you get a tip and or a 5-star rating. Not only does this help out the pax, but you are also ensuring that pax are in and out of your vehicle as fast as possible.

Personally, I would not help load up or unload bags from the grocery store. I let that be all up to them as I do not like to be in a situation where a rider would accuse me of stealing or breaking something.

Doors

To be honest, opening doors for pax can be quite tricky. A lot of the times, I don’t even get a chance to put my vehicle in park before the pax is jumping in or out of my vehicle at the appropriate stops. When I can open the doors for them, I do. It is just one of those things that show the pax that you care about providing a great customer experience.

Is Your Vehicle Clean and in Good Condition?

Keeping your car in top shape is one way to treat your rideshare as a business. That said, a rider’s first impression of a driver comes before they even open the door or greet the pax. As soon as they see your car, they’re already forming an impression on the type of driver they are getting and the quality of service they can expect.

I drive around quite a bit, even find myself waiting at an airport’s TNC lot. The number of vehicles I see that are dirty or in needing of repairs is astounding. My first impressions of some of the drivers I encounter are not very good. As soon as I spot a dirty vehicle, I immediately wonder how clean the inside is. Sometimes, I even get curious about how clean the driver is. When I see vehicles that need repairs, it makes me wonder how careful of a driver they are. It wouldn’t surprise me if riders think the same way too.

Comparing drivers again with hotels, if you walked into a hotel room with dirty sheets, food all over the floor, or a broken A/C unit, you’d immediately think you came to a terrible place. Would you want to stay there that night? Would you ever go back again, no matter how cheap it was? I will assume the answer is a no. So, why would you let a pax in your car if it is dirty or not 100% working properly?

Communicating with the Pax

Rides can easily become bad or good with just a little bit of communication. I’m not saying that you hold an entire conversation with the pax. However, this is good as it passes time and ensures the pax have an enjoyable ride with you.

Many Uber drivers personally own the vehicle and have control of how they respond to a pax’s request. Try to be more accommodating with requests and remember that you’re in the service industry. Your riders will rate and tip along the same lines of how pleased they are with your services.

GPS

 

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Take for example, drivers have a GPS, sometimes the GPS system is not always correct. There are also times when a pax may be uncomfortable following the route on the GPS. I agree it is annoying to have to hear a pax give a play-by-play turn list. But it would be best to take the route that your rider is more comfortable taking.

In most cases, the route that your rider wants would often result in longer drive times and more miles. I would personally have no problems with it. This allows me to increase the amount I am getting paid as well as please my pax. As a result, I get more tips and a higher rating.  When you don’t listen to your pax, on the other hand, you end up with zero tip and a lower rating.

Extra Stops

To me, this is really a no brainer. Although time can become an issue, adding stops to the trip is usually going to increase the distance a driver will travel, not to mention, pleasing the pax.

Why are many drivers are complaining about this.

Adding extra stops to the route shouldn’t be a big problem as some drivers make it out to be. I welcome my pax to add extra stops. They want to increase the amount I am making by adding distances and time, so be it.

No, I wouldn’t sit in a parking lot for 30 minutes while the pax goes grocery shopping. But, adding short stops here and there, who am I to say no to the request? I could easily be a jerk about it from the start and say no to their request. At that point, my expectations will be set to receive a low rating and no tip.

Conclusion

We, as drivers, are free to make whatever accommodations we wish, as long as it is well within Uber’s policies and not against the law. However, if you are driving for Uber or for Lyft, keep in mind that you are required to provide quality service. The level of service you offer is likely to make or break you within this industry.

If you don’t care about the quality of service you offer, perhaps rideshare gigs are not meant for you. This is exactly what other commercial drivers say about rideshare drivers. That we do not care about the pax or about the community.

I challenge each and every one of you to prove them wrong.

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