I agree with JBQ that there’s an interesting duality about customer service in the USA, where we expect companies to bend over backward to provide good service but aren’t surprised when they don’t. When they do provide good service we hardly notice it, but when they don’t it’s really noticeable and irritating.
But there’s one point that always puzzles me about the Uber debate: quality of service from incumbent taxi companies. Maybe I’m an outlier, but only one time in my life have I experienced bad service from a taxi company (in LA). I’ve ridden in a taxi perhaps 100 times in my life — not a lot, but a pretty good sampling I think. Is it just that I’m lucky to live in a good city like Madison where our taxi market is stable and competitive?
If I think of all the places where I’ve had surprisingly good service, car repair and maintenance places come to mind. Is that also strange, or have others had similar experiences?
Originally shared by Jean-Baptiste “JBQ” Quéru
Comcast, United, and Uber
We’ve all read horror stories about Comcast’s legendarily horrible customer service. I’m in the middle of moving, and my wife had to spend almost 15 minutes on the phone with them to move our existing service as-is without adding on anything else on top. That doesn’t mean that all ISPs are that hard to deal with, Sonic is famous for being great to work with.
Major airlines also have a bad reputation about the way they care about customers, with United leading the charge. Personally, my worst experiences have been with Air France. Other airlines do better, Southwest routinely makes the news for doing the right thing for its customers, and I’ve been happy flying Virgin America, Alaska or Jetblue.
The reality is that we in the US are spoiled with good customer service, and the Comcasts and Uniteds are exceptions. By and large, business small and large usually try very hard to provide a good experience.
That’s where Uber comes in. For all the discussions and controversies about Uber, at the core they’re here because customers who need point-to-point on-demand transportation expect good service, and the taxi incumbents don’t provide such service and aren’t even trying. I’ve had my own share of bad experiences with taxis in San Francisco, in San Jose, in Las Vegas, in Kansas City. By comparison the very few times my wife or I used Uber (in our case UberX), it was pleasantly unremarkable, it just did things right, in line with the kind of service I’ve come to expect in the US).
In the service industry, it pays to provide good service.