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A Customer Service Moment of Misery™: My Worst Taxi Ride Ever!

Worst Taxi RideBad Customer Experience

If you’ve seen me speak or been on my YouTube channel you may be familiar with my favorite story about the customer service experience I had with a taxi-cab driver. Well, this is the opposite of that experience, although it still provided some valuable lessons.

Many times I use a transportation company to take me from my home to the airport. I typically call the night before my flight to arrange for an early-morning ride to the airport. One evening I reserved my car for 4:15am to get me to the airport by 4:30am to catch my 5:30am flight.

At 4:15am, I was outside our building waiting for the driver. My first indication that something was wrong was that drivers usually arrive at least five or 10 minutes early. So, I called the company and the dispatcher told me my driver was two or three minutes away. Five minutes later I called back and I could hear the dispatcher on the radio with the driver who said she was turning on my street now.

Well, I was standing outside and could see that no one was turning on my street, and I told the dispatcher. Another few minutes went by and I called the dispatcher to say that I was going to the local taxi stand, which was just a short walk up the block. If the driver showed up before I got into a cab, I would go with her. Otherwise, too bad.

As my luck would have it, just as I was almost to the taxi stand, the driver showed up. I was not happy and said the obvious. “I’ve got a flight to catch. We need to move.” She replied, “I’m only ten minutes late. It’s not like you’re going to miss your flight.” I replied, “How do you know what time my flight is?” Frustrated, I got into the car.

She didn’t say she was sorry. She only complained about how bad her day had started. I told her nicely that I understood she was having a bad day, but my interest was in getting to the airport as quickly as possible. She insisted on telling me how this was an in-between job and how much she hated this company. I was shocked and didn’t say a word. She kept talking and was working herself up into being emotionally upset. She eventually became so upset that she picked up the radio to connect with the dispatcher and announced that as soon as she dropped me off she was bringing the car back and quitting.

The driver was a little crazy. That’s not a medical diagnosis, just an observation. I feared for my life as I thought she might intentionally cause an accident or drive the car into a wall. Good news: We eventually made it to the airport.

All I could think about was how bad this experience was and what we could all learn from it:

  • Show up on time. Anything else is disrespectful, destroys confidence and can ultimately cost you business.
  • The customer is not your therapist. It doesn’t matter how bad your day is, don’t burden him or her with your problems. Your job is to take care of the customer, regardless of how you feel.
  • Don’t air your dirty laundry in public. You may not like the company you work for, but you should still be respectful. They are paying you to do a job, so do it well and represent the company to the best of your abilities.
  • When you are in front of your customer, you are your company. You represent the company, their brand, and all of their employees. You have the power to give the customer a great experience – or not. Anything you do, positive or negative, reflects on the company – so seize it as an opportunity to amaze your customer!

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)

  1. Reading this made me feel like I was in this situation (emotions included). Maybe because I use cabs a lot and each time I walk in to the car I’m very curius – what kind of experience will I get this time?

    I also have this little fear inside me – will this be a good or bad experience? Only 10-15 minutes with the driver can affect my mood a lot. I can say there’re two kinds of drivers: the ones who put customer first – asking about music, opening window etc. There’re nice and empathic people in general.
    And the other kind: the ones who listen to the music really loud without even asking me if I’m ok with it. They usually drive fast with an open window like they were going on a summer trip with their friends.

    I think it’s a matter of respect. You don’t have to like your job. And nothing stands in your way – you can quit. But before you actually do it, try to make the most of the situation you’re in. You can set up a goal and try to make a customer’s day a little better for instance.
    Think about the little things that can make your day less hard for you and a little better for a customer…

    PS I’m glad you made it to the airport.

    • Hi Olga – I love your attitude. And, you are right. Your point… “try to make the most of the situation you’re in.” Thanks for stopping by with your comment.

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