We grew up in a world where the motto is “the customer is always right”, but to what end? In more recent years society has also been discouraging hostile work environments.
Within the last few months Uber released a statement that they intend on banning low-rated customers. Where do you stand – ban or not ban?
One might also ask it as customers or employees – which comes first?
Those on the side of the “customers come first” might say that the Uber drivers have a choice; if they don’t like the type of customers they get, they don’t have to be an Uber driver. Let’s say we go with that, then what? Perhaps Uber runs into the dilemma of having difficulty finding, or keeping, drivers and we all know without drivers the business would definitely go under….well until they start using self-driving cars and perhaps robotic chauffeurs.
One might also argue that Uber needs to train their drivers better on how to deal with difficult customers or that they aren’t hiring the right people for the job. These might be potentially very good arguments, or not, only Uber knows.
Those on the side of removing the hostile work environments definitely have an argument as well; who wants to allow their employees, or contractors, to be berated on the job, or worse have their lives at stake?
If you ever run into a similar situation, consider these few thoughts:
- Don’t make such a blanket statement – it could come across as threatening and result in alienating more of your potential customers (within your market) than you think.
- Try to make it a win-win for everyone versus a win-lose/lose-win situation.
- I read something about Uber potentially giving their customers tips to stay off the list. Depending on how this is communicated it could come across fairly juvenile. Think about a type of subtle messaging through your company’s advertising and marketing instead, e.g. the message given to a customer upon requesting a ride or the greeting a driver gives when customers enter their cars.
- Make sure when you’re hiring that the potential employees fit the culture and values of the company, someone who represents the image you want your company to have.
- Once you’re comfortable with who you’re hiring, train them well and provide them with resources and support.
There is another lesson all of us business owners may learn here and that relates to our business model. When you create your business, or even as your business grows, you want to look at the business model you want to have and build up.
There are elements that can be anticipated when you’re initially starting out and developing your business or strategic plan. This is the time you will identify some of the issues and create methods or systems for dealing with them.
Other obstacles will arise as you grow; that’s to be expected, but that’s why you have to keep in mind the importance of flexibility and regular reviews of your plans so that you can make timely adjustments.
When you think of Uber’s business model, you may or may not agree that some of the issues they are dealing with in regards to “low-rated customers” could have been anticipated. That being said, they could have created a strategy as to how this would be dealt with upfront to minimize the issues as they grow.