I think it’s pretty well-known that a huge differentiator for startups (either vs. other startups or vs. the “bigco” whose market they’re trying to disrupt) is insanely great customer service. To cite a few posts I’ve seen recently on this, see Sarah Tavel’s post on the importance of amazing customer service (in the e-commerce context); Spencer Fry’s post on Bootstrap Marketing (in particular for this post, see the section on “Sometimes you have to Issue Refunds”); and Ethan Austin’s post on customer service lessons he learned from Naval Ravikant at Angel List. (Also Seth Godin is awesome on customer service stuff).
I was in NYC this past weekend, and I decided when it was raining last night to pull the trigger on trying out Uber. I cancelled my car when it took longer than I had expected and we found a cab (I cancelled before a driver signalled he’s coming, so I avoided the $10 cancellation fee). Today — within 24 hours of the attempted usage — I received this email from Uber NYC’s customer service team [with the awesome email title of “$10 Uber Credit - Uber Fail :(" ]:
I see you were looking to get a ride with us in NYC recently and I’m sorry we let you down. We’re working hard to get more cars on the road so we can always be there when you need us.
I’ve added $10 in Uber credit in your account to make up for the inconvenience, and I hope you’ll try riding with us again soon!
Feel free to email me directly with any questions you have. I’m always happy to help.
Uber NYC Community Manager
That’s what I call amazing customer service. I was impressed enough that (a) I wrote them back saying thank you, and (b) I’m writing this blog post.
I’m not sure if this is an offer that gets sent to others that are already engaged users, but I’m sure their system is aware that this was my first time engaging with the product, and they smartly know how important the first impression is. I’m guessing I got this offer because this was my first usage, it didn’t go as planned, and they really really want to convert me because I’ve now gotten so close to becoming a paying customer and they know I’m more than just a passive user (i.e. someone that’s just downloaded the app and never tries it). In other words they know I’m right at the bottom of the marketing purchase funnel. This is precisely the moment when amazing customer service can make the difference.
Also, in terms of the amount of the credit, it’s an obvious statement but worth mentioning that presumably it’s small enough that the $10 loss on the credit would be exceeded by whatever Uber’s average customer lifetime value is (i.e. how much they’d expect to make off me once I did start becoming an active user).
Big props, Uber.