Let me start by pointing out that I am well travelled and have lived in many different places, most notably New York City and London, England. Hence, I’m well versed in the use of cabs and their reliability or lack thereof.
In London, black cabs spend two years driving around the city with a list of places to go each day and a map getting to know it. In order to be licensed they must do this and meet each one of their destinations within a certain time limit. Consequently, Black cabs have had an impeccable reputation for years.
In NYC, there’s so much competition cab drivers will literally fight for passengers, honking at each other, and pulling all sorts of illegal moves to pick up passengers. While you may not trust their driving (ok let’s be honest who trusts any cab driver’s driving in full?), in the end they are reliable and fast.
The key word for these cities taxi services is reliable.
Then there’s San Francisco and the experience here is entirely different.
Eddie Izzard notoriously joked about how hard it is to get a cab here and then went on to poke fun at how painful it is to get around by cabs in SF. And it doesn’t stop there. The citizens of the city have time and time again been yelled at for suggesting alternate routes, refused service altogether because they live in the outer parts of the city, ignored altogether while our driver talks on his phone, and the list continues.
In my own experiences not only have I experienced all the above but I have literally been left stranded when trying to get to the airport! Planes don’t wait for you and that’s a $50-60 fare for them. Not to mention you’re likely to pick up someone headed back into the city for another $50. Easy money! In all three cases, I have almost missed my flight and if it weren’t for CLEAR or upgrades that allowed me to jump the lines, I likely would have. Thank you very much cabbies! This kind of service not only leaves me to feel that you are incompetent but also that it would be worth my while to start looking elsewhere for service.
Enter Lyft, Instacab, and the many other “cab” services popping up.
It is my understanding from talking to cab drivers and general word of mouth that these services have really pissed you off. Good. Have we gotten your attention yet? Are you listening?
There’s a thing I do called User Experience. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? No. Ok let me explain. We UX professionals look at services from end to end. We think about our users. We mitigate pain. We aim to make the user experience as fast, convenient, and reliable as possible. We delight in creating experiences that our customers fall in love with. We like it when they write us love letters counting the ways in which we are the “MOST AMAZING THING EVER!!” It means we’ve done our job and we’ve done it well.
You? You on the other hand have created a service that feels like an adventure through Dante’s 7 levels of hell! You complain about credit card services because “you don’t make any money”. You complain about “going too far out of the way”. You complain about “competition”. Hello you are providing a SERVICE! Service in the U.S., like it or not, means we the customer is always right and you should do your job with a smile. Ok yes I know there are those of us that push that way, way too far but you practically go our of your way to avoid giving us even half way decent service.
So when I can reliably get a cab from Lyft (or any of the others) in an area of town that you refuse to go, not be ignored, get service with a smile and a decent conversation, can rate my drivers, and generally begin to fall in love with a new service, I’m likely to become smitten. I’m likely to tell you where you can take it and start using said service as often as I need them. Their social rating service allows me to know if a driver is good. Additionally, the drivers can rate me as a passenger. We can find out if we’re going to be “cool”. This is how the new economy is working. Technology is driving change and social is the new way to do business. It would be wise of you to stop complaining and start paying attention to what Lyft, Instacab, and the others are doing right because if you don’t your “commission” may be out of commission.
Update: CPUC Proposes Legalizing ‘Ride-sharing’ Companies in California
The California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday released long-awaited proposed regulations for smartphone-enabled “ride-share” services such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar. These companies allow passengers to hire private drivers through online applications, bypassing local cabs.