April 5, 2015 Anthony Cospito

Lyft customers are nicer than Uber customers, what’s brand got to do with it?

Every Lyft driver I rode with mentioned it, “Lyft customers are much nicer than Uber customers.” They’re not sure why, but the attitudes are miles apart.

Most also drive for Uber so they would know, and regardless of city they say the same thing. What then, does it say about the brands themselves?

The drivers I spoke with in the NYC area and Boston describe Uber customers as being rude, demanding, and full of complaints. Is it Uber’s infamous surge pricing practices that put customers on the defensive? If so, should Uber tell its customers to “Uber-have?”

Drivers said Uber customers make them feel “like a second class citizen”, saying they are “angry and bossy”, and often leave “a mess of food and drinks.” One driver even mentioned an Uber customer who brought a huge dog into her tiny car, while another started polishing her nails — fumes on high.

Lyft customers go the other way. Drivers say most are “extremely considerate” and “pleasant to deal with.” One driver said she feels safer when customers are happier, “when there’s no stress in the air, we lower our chance of an accident.” A recent tweet by a Lyft driver goes a bit further:

“I PICKED UP A PASSENGER AND WE GOT ALONG SO WELL WE ENDED UP GRABBING DINNER. I LOVE PEOPLE!”

But that’s the odd part, the service between Uber and Lyft is the same. Exactly the same. Same car, same driver. Same same. So why the difference in disposition?

Are Uber customers reflecting back on the brand they’ve come to know and be wary of? Mistrust has been known to put a damper on budding relationships. Perhaps it’s Lyft’s pink moustache of days gone by that inspires more smiles more than scowls. Or, maybe it’s how the brands approach new customers. The homepages of Uber and Lyft provided some direction.

Uber.com has rotating images at the top, most of which target new drivers — not riders. Lyft.com is all about the customer, and makes it easy to get a car with a dead simple form. Competitive brands like Gett are coming up fast with a solid product, growing market share and global ambitions.

In a sector where disruption is the norm, both Uber and Lyft need to keep their eyes on the road – and in the rear view mirror. Smart underdogs like Gett have a history of blowing past the status quo.

Bigger picture implications? Brands not 100% customer-obsessed (especially those in the competitive segment of transportation) should hit the brakes and get ready to make a u-turn.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

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