Taxi Cab Change Lessons: The Ideal Customer Experience Attitude


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About the series: As a consultant I travel a lot for work. Being in public transportation – planes, trains and taxicabs regularly, I get to see how people enter, adjust and complete their journey. Some better than others. I also see how information shows up that can be very instructional if anyone were paying attention. Well, I am. And I like to listen to others tell their stories. I always learn from them. Here are the change lessons I’ve experienced in the back seat of a taxicab.

ideal_customer_experienceI’m from Minnesota where it gets cold. Really cold some winters and this is one of those years. On Christmas Eve morning I was heading to the airport at 4 AM. The Weather Channel told me it was minus 12 Fahrenheit, with the wind chill factor “feels like minus 23.” Great.

Feeling disappointed in myself for waiting until this day to fly, I started to fret. Would the flights be on time? Certainly they would have to de-ice and I only had 40 minutes to connect in Atlanta? Would the cab be on time? Would the cab even show up on this miserably cold, dark, icy morning?

About that time I got a text from my favorite local taxi service: “Chris, your taxi will be arriving in moments.” Whew. The day was starting right. It is 3:55 AM when I walk out the door to meet my driver. The wind and cold pulled the air right out of you. Smiling my driver pops out of the car, grabs my suitcase & says, “Hurry, hop in. The cab is warm.”

Talking to cab drivers is something I do. I always learn things from them and appreciate their point of view. I ask him, “Are you about done for the night or just getting started? ” He says, “No, neither, I just started 3 hours ago. It is a cold night. People need a warm ride.” We continued with the usual weather and ice chit chat. He was clearly not from Minnesota; had never seen snow until he arrived here and never believed it could get so cold. Several winters into residency, I asked him why he stays. “Family. This is home now.” I asked him why he drives cab in the middle of the night. Especially on freezing, dangerous nights like this one. “I love driving and I’m now very good at driving in ice and snow.” (He was.) Why nights? “In weather like this, this is when people need us most. People should not drive in this weather if they don’t have to. Leave it to us.” I couldn’t agree more.

Then he asked me a question: ‘You are traveling somewhere important on this day?’ I said yes I was going to spend Christmas out of the snow and cold with family and friends. This was not a holiday for him. His plan was to work all day so that others could safely get to their Christmas destinations. As we arrived at the airport, he said, “You will travel well today. Peace to you. Enjoy your holiday.”

He was right. All my flights were on time. I arrived exactly as scheduled and stepped into 80 degrees in the late afternoon sun. I have thought of him several times as I sit here in the warmth and joy of the holiday season. I could have ridden to the airport, glued to my iPhone or lost in my own concerns. Instead in a few minutes I met a wonderful person with a big heart – and a very warm and comfortable cab on a miserable morning!

He was surprised at the generous tip. I told him in the 15 minute ride he had gotten my day off to a great start and asked him to treat himself to a nice break from the holiday traffic on me. I hope he did.

Why write about this? What lesson in this ride? Well, there’s two reasons:

  • First, we so easily miss the imbedded kindnesses and attention to our needs if/as we are consumed by our own thoughts, schedules and concerns. Yes, he was ‘just doing his job.’ However, with his generous spirit, he reminded me that dozens, thousands, millions do so much for us that we pass by or through without even noticing. It is worth it to notice and say thank you. Everything that follows seems a bit better.
  • Aveus does a lot of client work on developing more positive and rewarding customer experiences. Our model emphasizes the two sides of the customer experience: better for the customer and equally important, better for your organization. This 15 minute cab ride is an example of a make or break experience from beginning to end. You can imagine all the things that could have gone wrong. Instead think of all the things that went more than right starting with the text that “Chris, your cab will be arriving in moments.” And ending with a wish for ‘peace’ in my life. Repeated, positive experiences like this one are why they get my business every time. And I take a lot of cabs!

Have you recently noticed something that you take for granted and it changed your perspective? Share your story.

photo credit: Wonderlane

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris LaVictoire Mahai
Chris LaVictoire Mahai is co-owner and managing partner of Aveus, a global strategy and operational change firm. She is also an author. In her book, ROAR, Chris explores what it takes to drive the best possible customers and business performance outcomes through the lenses of speed, predictability, flexibility and leverage.


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