Lessons sometimes come from really unusual places, and this week’s post is one example. I spent this week in Los Angeles at the Institute for Organization Management on the Loyola Marymount campus. In an effort to save a bit of money in our extensive travel budget, I thought I’d forego renting a car and chose to try out this alternative taxi service I’ve heard so much about: Uber. It’s a lot like a taxi service, but with its own unique flair that I’ll explain in detail below…but I want to do so in the context of the lessons I learned this week using their service that I believe apply to each of us in Organization Management. Let’s jump right in!
Over deliver, customer service, don’t ask the wrong questions, ask the RIGHT questions, quick to respond, make it easy to buy, offer different tiers
- Make it easy to buy: The number one benefit to using Uber instead of a cab is how easy they make it to choose them. Once you’ve registered and downloaded their mobile app, you can order a car within about 30 seconds! The application automatically locates you, pairs you with the nearest available driver, introduces you to that driver with a name, a picture, a description of the car he’s driving and his license plate! They then connect you via text message instantly to that driver, and you’ll receive a phone call from him within minutes to confirm he’s on his way to you! INCREDIBLE! We need to make it as simple as possible for your prospects and members to choose to do business with us, and we need to make it easy to take action. If we can seamlessly and instantly integrate them into our “Culture of Engagement”, even better!
- Offer different tiers: With Uber, you choose the level of service you wish to take advantage of with each trip. There’s an UberX where you’ll be picked up by a non-professional driver in their privately-owned vehicle. They go through a background check and their car has been inspected by the company to ensure quality standards are met, but you’ll be in Joe Smith’s Prius. Obviously you pay less for THAT than you would for their “Black Car service”, where you’ll be picked up by a professional limo service driver in the customary black suit, driving a Lincoln Town Car or something very similar. You’ll get bottled water and cell phone charges, but you’ll pay roughly double what you would with X. Both services have another upgrade available to an SUV as opposed to a sedan. Each product is built quite specifically with a particular customer in mind. That customer has a very identifiable need, and Uber delivers. We need to do the same: Identify your different customer types and their very individual needs…then design and deliver customized offerings (memberships, tiers if you will) that fit their price, time, image and other requirements.
- Over-Deliver: We’ve all ridden in a cab, and we all HATE riding in a cab, don’t we? Why is that? Could it be because we expect it to be dirty? Uncomfortable? Difficult to communicate with the driver? Well, I can tell you that I didn’t have ANY of those issues with my rides this week, but I don’t recall seeing any advertising or marketing that mentioned I’d be blown away by the cars or the drivers when signing up with Uber. It reminded me that we have to be diligent in our efforts to over-deliver. Now…I caution you! Many of you probably thought I was going to say UNDER PROMISE, too. On no…not a chance! We need to promise appropriately and STILL over-deliver! You know we can do it if we focus on our 80/20 rule at all times. Do more of the stuff we’re great at…the stuff 80% of our membership wants from us…and do less of the stuff we’re not so great at that only 20% of our constituents care about.
- Customer Service is KING: My drivers didn’t have to get out and run around to my side of the car to open the doors for me. They didn’t have to show me that they were giving ME a 5 star rating as a rider. They didn’t need to offer me bottled water, cell phone chargers, a newspaper or pleasant conversation, but they DID! All of them, in fact. And they all got 5-star ratings and tips from a very happy customer. If we can remember that our members are guests in our homes every time we come in contact with them, we’re going to be more gracious, more forgiving and FAR better off when the next round of invoices goes out.
- Don’t ask the wrong questions: The one bad experience I had was just this morning. I requested an UberX driver so I could save 50% or so on my 5th trip back to campus. The driver called me to confirm my location and immediately asked me where I was going. Well, I’d been warned by another driver earlier in the week that this might happen. It seems SOME drivers want to know whether the fare is going to take them too far away from the busy areas, or which might be short hops not worth picking up. So I deflected the question and told him I wasn’t sure which stop on my itinerary I was taking first, but that I’d know by the time he came to get me. It wasn’t until then that he mentioned he was a BLACK CAR…and is that what I’d ordered. Talk about a bait and switch! He asked me to cancel the ride and get another driver, which I GLADLY did. Problem is, I got assigned to him again. He texted me a terse message saying I should cancel again, which I responded to appropriately (feel free to message me privately and I’ll give you the blow-by-blow) and decided I’d better go ahead and select a Black Car (with ANY other driver) so I could get to class on time. The moral of the story is simply this: Asking the right questions is very smart, but asking the WRONG questions and trying to disqualify someone before they’re ready to be disqualified is likely not going to work in your favor. Be a great questioner and you’ll win the day!
- Respond quickly: The ease of use makes Uber very easy to talk about to others, but it’s the immediacy of the contact that really stood out to me. Everything is handled so fast…not at ALL like calling Yellow Cab and waiting forever. It made me loyal very quickly. So too will your members become quick, loyal fans if you can respond to them positively and QUICKLY! If you want to be known for something in your community, be known for responding to inquiries right away. It may not always be easy and you may not always like the conversation the member wants to have with you, but they’ll always remember how eager you were to talk to them and take care of them.
In the end, we all want to feel special. Your members certainly do, and so do your prospects. It’s up to you to determine what someone will write about YOU if given the chance. Will they be writing a raving review or an obituary?