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This Lyft executive shares their secret recipe for keeping customers and drivers happy

Mary Winfield says good customer service is just like cooking. You need to start with a solid recipe and tweak to make it your own.

This Lyft executive shares their secret recipe for keeping customers and drivers happy
[Photo: courtesy of Lyft]

For people like me who are serious about cooking, the ultimate marker of success is when a friend or family member asks for the recipe of the dish just served. It’s not just “Did you like it?” but did you like it enough—better still, love it—that you can’t help but share with others?

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Likewise, at Lyft, we’re all about earning those accolades by delivering an amazing customer experience that ultimately results in landing stellar Net Promoter scores. (For the uninitiated, companies use an NPS to measure customer experience and predict business growth.) It starts with our people, our best ingredient, along with a good recipe so the cook has a solid basis and can add their own special touch.

The key to consistency is starting with a solid recipe. It serves as a foundational road map for my team and is the best way to solve the majority of issues that may affect our customer base—both our riders and drivers. Each of my managers owns the recipes (and yes, we refer to them as recipes) that their teams rely on 24/7 to resolve issues for our drivers and riders.

Just like cooking, we use feedback to make them better. Adjusting, simplifying, automating, and evaluating resolve scores, care scores, and other highly emotional contacts determines and qualifies how well a recipe works. This granularity gives us insight into how and why we get the highest scores, which helps us design future recipes for specific scenarios.

Our customer service is graded on three key factors: resolve, ease, and care. We pore over our Net Promoter score, slicing and dicing to analyze all of those contributing factors: Did we resolve? How easy was it? How likely are you to recommend us? And most important of all: Do you think we care about you? We refer to the care piece as the triple crown. We want to evoke responses like, “You took the burden off of me” or “You engaged with me as a human being.”

You can’t, for example, rely on email to resolve a situation where a customer left a phone in a Lyft. It’s too highly personal, it’s emotional, and it can be complicated. The recipe to resolve the issue requires human contact with equal portions of urgency and empathy. From there, it can be adjusted. Maybe instead of following the usual steps, with the driver returning immediately to a drop-off destination at, say, a concert hall, the driver can ask instead if the rider can meet after the show. With the assurance that the phone was found and in safe hands, the rider can enjoy the show.

All of this depends on high employee engagement, and it requires both head and heart, just like a recipe. When someone is cooking from the heart, it comes through in the dish. Yet to allow for that heartfelt goodness, those little touches, it has to start with technical adeptness to pull off the basic recipe in the first place. You can’t have one without the other.

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Sometimes your recipe may not satisfy a guest, no matter how thoughtfully conceived. That doesn’t mean you still can’t come out of the experience with a positive outcome.

For instance, a single mother of two boys reached out in frustration after her boys’ accounts had been deactivated. Both boys are minors, and their mom didn’t understand why they could not take rides without her in the car. Nicole, a customer experience specialist, explained Lyft’s safety policy regarding minors and why we don’t allow them to travel without an accompanying adult.

In a typical, scripted customer interaction, Nicole could have ended the conversation there. But because Nicole didn’t feel good about leaving the issue unresolved, she did some research and discovered HopSkipDrive, a rideshare platform designed to provide safe rides to minors. After confirming the service was available in the passenger’s area, Nicole forwarded the information.

Nicole received glowing feedback: “She actually took the time outside of her job I believe to give me information that really helped me. While my situation couldn’t be resolved within Lyft, she was nice and she really saved me!”

A tried-and-true recipe is your baseline that allows you to get that repeatability you can count on and buys you the ability to get creative. This is what allows you to be present and, as we say at Lyft, bring your whole self to work.

Mary Winfield is the vice president of customer experience and trust at Lyft.

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