Portland's Top-Rated Lyft Driver's Best Pick-Up Line
So, a few months ago I had a bad day. I entered what was the busiest season of my 30s, and Portland entered the beginnings of its crazy-making stretch of rainy-grey-sky-bummer weather. So, on my way home I stopped by my local watering hole for a quick drink and a hamburger to lift my spirits. The drink was OK. The hamburger was amazing. The sour mood remained the same. I wasn’t interested in navigating Portland’s public transit system home in the rain. So I did what any tired, grumpy person would do. I booked a Lyft ride home. This isn’t a commercial for Lyft, but the reality is that I use and rely on the ride-sharing service almost daily to get from point A to point B. You could say I’m a long-time “promoter.” Are you with me so far? Busy life season (ugh!). Rain, doom, gloom (boo!). Whiskey soda (meh). Mushroom Swiss burger (yum!). Southeast Portland (hipsterdom incarnate). Still not feeling great. So I open the Lyft app on my iPhone. I prayed to the gods of iOS that my Lyft app would secure a quick and cozy ride to my house. I wasn’t looking for a fun conversation. I didn’t want free candy in the back seat. I just wanted to get home quickly to my comfortable bed. I was hoping for an escalade. Instead, I got a 2010 Honda Civic. Not a bad car, but I wanted luxury so I could sulk in style. The Honda pulls up to the curb and I get in. This upbeat bearded man in a leather jacket — beaming with enough positive energy to channel a Tony Robbins seminar (let’s call him “Chris”) looks back and with a little pep in his voice says, “Welcome to My Car!”
Immediately I experienced a shift. He knew what he was working with: a tired, rain-soaked, grumpy Portland dude. He asked me if I wanted Black Sabbath or Run DMC on the stereo. (Fun fact: the first album I ever owned was Black Sabbath’s ‘Sabotage” LP on vinyl). So of course, I went for mid-70s proto-metal. Instantly, my mood changed. It was like magic. I didn’t get an Escalade, but I got an amazing experience that made my night. He dropped me off at my home a few moments later. I exited the car, received the push notification on my phone to rate, review and pay. Five stars. Great conversation. Solid navigation. Safe driver. I left him some feedback: “Thanks for turning my night around, man!” (Note: I rarely leave written feedback).
You’d think that’s the end of the story. It’s not.
Two months later “Chris” and I were paired together again. Same story (minus the grumpiness). That same old Honda Civic rolls up. I get in the car, sit down and a familiar voice says, “Welcome to my car!”“Hey! You gave me a ride a few months ago! Chris, right?” I ask. “Oh hey, man! I remember you! How’s it going?” he responds. Then we get to catching up on my five-minute ride to work. As it turns out, he’s a Lyft driver truly obsessed with understanding customers in order to consistently deliver a great experience. Then he says, [caveat: I have not verified this next statement with Lyft] “I’m actually the top-rated driver in Portland.”I’m stunned and super skeptical. He then goes on to tell me that he’s tested several “pick-up” lines — for the lack of a better phrase — on riders over the past year. That means over a period of months, he tested and asked for feedback on his welcome message and “Welcome to My Car” is the winner.
I ask him how he became the top-rated Lyft driver in Portland, and then he says this to me:
“I think it’s because I love making my riders happy more than I love my job.”
And in one moment, I learned that true customer obsession is ALWAYS people-first. How do you deliver amazing people-first experiences? You gather feedback, listen to that feedback and put that feedback into business-transforming action.
How to Create Your Own “Welcome to My Car” Moment
Chris didn’t wake up one day with the perfect one-liner that made him Portland’s top-rated driver. He created a mechanism for real-time feedback. Odds are he started with a benchmark of what worked and didn't. He probably tried some less-than-stellar welcome messages. After he opened up his “brand” to real-time feedback, the way he engaged with his customers changed. He started to understand how customers felt about his “brand.”
After gathering enough feedback, he started operationalizing that feedback by testing different experiences. In fact, you could say that he prioritized experience over product. When I got into Chris’s car, I could have cared less about the “product” he was selling. Like I said, I wanted an Escalade and what I got was a Honda. By listening to real-time feedback he was able to own the “Chris-ness” of his brand. The result is that I cared way more about the conversation, the music, the free water in the back seat. In other words, the personalized experience offered was a result of acting on feedback from his customers.
That amazing experience moved me. Obviously, it made a big enough impression for me to write this blog post. But more than that, I not only gave him a glowing review and positive feedback, I also gave him a huge tip. I’m not patting myself on the back. I’m merely stating that an amazing customer-first experience made me want to show my appreciation with my wallet. The same is true for your customers. A study by RightNow Technologies indicates that the majority of customers will spend 25% more on a great experience. That’s inspiration in action.