Drive Me: Lyft Just Might Have The Customer Experience Advantage Over Uber

I’m not a fan of pitting two or more companies against one another and calling “war,” but the reality is that there’s such a thing as competition and advantage in any marketplace. One of the hottest verticals of interest as of late is transportation. I’m ready to buy a Lit Motors car, which we saw at Disrupt, and I’ve used Uber since it launched.

One of the things that I experienced this past week was a ride in one of those pink-mustached Lyft cars. In case you haven’t heard, Lyft has a platform and service that allows regular vetted folks with a car become your personal driver. It sounds like Uber, but up until now, Uber has focused on sending you a professional driver in a fancy town car. It’s awesome, but hear me out on some things.

If we’ve learned anything on the Internet, we know that the companies that can nail customer service and experience win the day. Take a look at Amazon and Zappos, now one in the same. Those companies focus on creating a warm environment with their customer service staff and sites, which makes you ready to spend money. It’s not by accident; this is a focus for these brands.

I’ve only had one or two bad experiences with Uber, but for the most part, the drivers have been nothing but professional and courteous. I thought that would win the day until I rode in a Lyft yesterday.

Here’s the difference between the two companies:

Uber has to make drivers be nice folks, and Lyft has nice folks that they empower to become drivers.

Advantage? Lyft.

During our ride, we talked to the fellow who gave us a customary Lyft-esque fist-pound when we got into his car. I asked him how Lyft was treating him and he told me that he quit a job as a miner because this income and opportunity was something he enjoyed more.

Yup, nobody made him a driver. It’s not a “job” for him; it’s a way to make money doing something he likes. He liked talking to us, and not just because we write for TechCrunch. The man truly enjoyed interacting with people. Sadly, most of the conversations that I have with Uber drivers consist of where I’m going and how the weather has been.

But that’s okay — it’s not Uber’s thing to give me someone to chat with. That would be asking too much.

This is a true advantage for Lyft, though, and with Uber saying that it will get into the “ride-sharing” business, I wonder if it’s too late. And yes, Lyft is way cheaper, too.

For the same reason that Airbnb is better than staying in a hotel, in my opinion, Lyft creates a familiar experience with a regular nice person. I don’t like having my bed cleaned up and my towels changed. I like staying in a home, or a friend’s house, when I’m out on the road.

I like the idea of a “friend” coming to pick me up at the airport, too. That friend, for the time being, will be pinged via the Lyft app for me in the near-future.

PS: Notice that I didn’t even mention a taxi cab…they’re so 10 years ago.

[Photo Credit: Flickr]