When Uber first came on the scene, it was a big hit with consumers and a disruptor to the taxi and rental car companies. I personally use them on nearly 100% of my business trips. Uber grew at a staggering pace until they got multiple bad headlines.


Around that time, I became aware of a Lyft competitive advantage that meant a great deal to me. You were able to put in your pick-up time and a car would show up plus or minus 5 minutes. At the time, Uber didn’t have that option. They do now. Uber played catch up, but the scheduling of a ride was no longer a Lyft advantage. Now they are back at par with each other’s service offering.


Recently I have experienced a new competitive disadvantage for both that may drive me back into a rental car. Please note this may not be a national issue; I live in South Florida, it may be more dominant here than some other cities. For 8 out of the last 10 rides I have taken, I have had a driver who spoke not one word of English. That might be fine if GPS was 100% reliable, but we know it is not.


I experienced issues where the GPS sent us in the wrong direction. I had no way to help the driver get back on course because I was often in familiar territory when they were not. They did not comprehend even “left, right, go straight”; it was frustrating, for me and the driver. This happened twice and both times I was about to miss an appointment as we moved through traffic unable to correct course. I knew where we were but was helpless to give directions.


I contacted Lyft to explain the issue. The customer service rep offered me $5 for my inconvenience. I told them I don’t want $5, I want drivers who can speak a minimum of English, so they can be provided with directions when necessary. The customer service rep texted me, and I quote, “if you ain’t comfortable in taking a ride you can always cancel it…” Truth: She/he texted “ ain’t.” So much for professional customer service staff.


So, a business that was a major disruptor with their terrific software might consider their next
competitive advantage. They presently offer choice of vehicle size and a select pickup time, why not offer language preference so both the passenger and driver are more comfortable?


A company must always be looking for the next competitive advantage.


Has your company fallen asleep at the wheel in any customer service areas?  Are you scanning the landscape for what the competitor is doing better than you?  Worse than you?  Do you have the customer’s need ahead of your internal needs?  These might be good questions for your next staff or sales meeting.

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