Call For Complaints

The next time you're in a cab take a look around. What do you see that surprises you?

Rod In CabI'm not a frequent cab user but over the years I've been in my share. For my most resent business trip - instead of paying the ridiculous parking rates at Sea-Tac International - I decided to leave my car at the office and take a cab. 

After sliding into the car and exchanging the necessary information with the driver, I fastened my seat belt and looked around the cab. 

There were the expected postings of rates for time and distance, a holder displaying the drivers city issued permit and mugshot, a few novelties on the dashboard, and the always present meter that clicked up the fare in what appeared to be ten cent increments.

Nowhere in the cab had my driver, or the company he worked for, done anything out of the ordinary to make the time I spent in his cab a little more pleasant. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

The bar for my expectations had been set very low and that's exactly the experience being delivered. What a shame. Nothing remarkable. Just the routine. An opportunity lost by both the cab company and the driver.

Upon closer inspection I saw signs telling me that I was being digitally recorded by a miniature camera mounted on the review mirror for the security and safety of my driver; another instructing me not to smoke; and one to make sure I knew that no one other than me would be responsible for taking care of my belongings. And then there was "the big one." 

For Complaints Call

There, in Yellow Cab #637, was the biggest sign of all. One that told me - IN 60 POINT ALL CAP TYPE - what I could do if I didn't like the experience I was having during my thirty-minute cab ride. 

It's the "Passenger Complaint Hotline" and the sign made it very clear what the cab and phone numbers were that I would need if I had a reason to call. How convenient!

The owners of Seattle's Yellow Cab must have experienced some very undesirable passengers in the past. They are clearly concerned about losing their signs to people who have a need to collect such things. The embosed plastic sign was bolted to the inside wall of the door panel with four bolts and washers that look like they were designed to assemble the new Lake Washington floating bridge. 

And here's the best part... there's not just one of these signs in the cab, there are three of them! One on each interior passenger door - all bolted into place with the same industrial strength steel fasteners. 

And my point? 

The people who manage or regulate the operations of cabs like this one clearly must expect the worst. They're prepared for complaints. They seem to expect and invite them. Yet nowhere in the cab was there a sign that asks the simple question, "What was your experience like today?" A question that opens the door to compliments, appreciation, recognition, improvement, and yes... the occasional criticism. 

Imagine how much cleaner the car might be kept, how much friendlier the driver might be, and how much more enjoyable the passenger experience if the driver had reason to anticipate positive reinforcement and recognition for his effort.

VomitWhat behavior is your business prompting from your employees? Do you leave "signs" that invite complaints. Look around. You might be surprise.

Footnote: On the return trip I took another cab from my hotel to the Denver airport. The sign to the right is one that I experienced there. I rest my case!

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  • Steve
    Jun. 28, 2012
    You are the (human) cargo. Their job is perceived (by them) to be the transportation of cargo. I'm sure some cargo is far worse than others, so treat all cargo as the worst, just in case. Unfortunately, some cargo sees fit to use the taxi and the driver as an ATM and the driver is at risk (a true risk by the way). Solution, the driver will have no contact with the cargo. Instead use industrial strength signs.

    As we interact with people, I wonder what industrial strength signs we have on display?

    Thanks for sharing Rod.
  • Lori Jacobs
    Jun. 27, 2012
    So insightful and so true of many companies. From taxi's, restaurants, schools, cell providers.......Thank you!

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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