|Nope, It Never Is|
Recently Lyft had me complete a training course (i.e., watch videos) of what to do to promote better safety and passenger ease during rides. Painfully earnest and well-meaning advice ensues!
It was the kind of thing that companies do because they have to (see any number of cringe inducing HR moments over the years). Besides, getting all of the drivers (including the ones that are new to the job, and maybe the country) to pass a basis requirement is A Thing. No real bone to pick, and I think I got a $10 Amazon card for my troubles.
And, um, still. I can't help but feel these folks are doing it wrong, leaving money on the table, and lots of other consultant style buzz words. (I am a consultant! Honest! And not a transportation one, even though right now, I kind of am. Moving on.)
Here's the thing about doing this hustle: it's more, much more, about the passenger than the driver. So long as I provide you with a clean place to be, safe transport to the location, and nothing that distracts terribly from these points, everything else is gravy. My own ratings have gone up over the years as I have, generally, talked less and less.
However... it's still my car. I'm still a human being, at least until the self-driving software is perfected and these companies become actual businesses, rather than ways to burn venture capital. (More on that later.) If you want to interact with me, I'm more than up for it, if for the simple reason that I'm more likely to inspire a tip from you.
So, with that taken into account, here's a few things that could improve the experience for everyone involved.
1) Give the passenger more driver metrics.
I know, they do this already with the ranking the passenger sees, right? Well, yes. But the most important metric isn't what the last 100 Lyft passengers or 500 Uber riders ranked me, especially when 5 stars is the default and the difference between a perfect and terrible driver is less than 10% of the visible ranking, and hence, really subject to rare events.
Nope, the most important ranking is simpler. It's the number of the ride this is in my Rideshare Career. (It is depressingly high for me, but probably reassuring for you.) With that, you get near total assurance that I'm Not A Creep, Nor Dangerous, and that a whole big bunch of people have ridden with me without incident.
If you really want to get into the weeds on this, maybe even show the passenger how much time I've been in the app today. In that moment, I get far more actionable information on whether my driver is Probably Not Microsleeping. (And don't make these things something the passenger has to hunt for, for heaven's sake.)
2) Give the driver more passenger metrics.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but those rare event passengers that feel that no driver is ever good enough for a perfect rating? I may want to avoid having them in my car. My livelihood in this hustle should not be subject to the whims of someone who is saving five stars for marriage, or has made it their mission in life to get all small hybrid cars out of the rideshare fleet. (Yes, my car is not kind to the very tall or the very big. Cancel the ride and get someone who is less fuel-efficient if you wanna hate.)
Realistically, I'm not likely to spend a lot of my precious non-accepts on people who rank their drivers lower than the median. I provide more service and amenities than most folks, and I'm confident that I can turn a tough client around. And if you are ordering me in the slow hours of the day, or I don't have enough full acceptance days to be choosy? I'm rolling the dice and taking you anyway.
But if you are on a shared ride, a long way away and a bad rater? Yeah, I want to pass. A lot. And I'll drive more for the platform that lets me do that,.
3) Give both parties the chance to show trigger categories.
I have a political science degree and a direct connection to a leading Presidential candidate (worked as their secretary a long time ago). Many of my passengers who have started a conversation in this vein have seemed *really* into the talk and happy with the ride.
It's also more than a little silly that I have to hide that in the fear of talking to someone who thinks that conversations like that are a red flag / third rail. Give both sides the ability to know which points are off-limits, and make everyone happier. At the very least, test it.
4) You have data. Have fun with it!
Imagine getting into a car and being told that the ride is free because it's your (insert big round number here). Or seeing your driver do a little dance because it's their (insert big round number here), and they just got some bonus. Perhaps even some goofy moment on an utterly random number, or the apps start shooting off firework noises because it's Explosion Tuesday. The idea that every ride needs to be the same in the app is, well, kind of blah.
5) Create a few crazy cool rides.
If you really want to get into the realm of Actual Fun Happening (which means social media positive moments for once, which you'd think these platforms might want to encourage), rent some over the top luxury car for a day, give it to a driver, and have them pick up people in a Bentley or Aston Martin.
Free marketing name: SuperUber or IncrediLyft.
Honestly, someone, hire me already. I'm good at the marketing.
The driver gets the fun of driving a great car for a day, the passenger rides in one, they both Gram the hell out of the moment. This should not be hard, really.