It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
— Warren Buffett

I attended the Collision Conference in New Orleans earlier this month and decided to travel without a car. With plenty of transportation options, why bother dealing with a parking nightmare, right? Immediately after landing, I checked Lyft to downtown. To my surprise, Lyft is not available at New Orleans Airport, but Uber is. So, Uber it was.

Later in the day I needed a car to dinner. Again, I attempted to check the price for a Lyft. Unfortunately, Lyft was not able to give me an estimated price. Nothing. Uber offered up an acceptable price. So, Uber it was, again. And so was the case for a handful of additional times during my week stay.

Reliability can build reputation & brand loyaltyor ruin it

In other cities, including in my home, New York City, Uber and Lyft reliably provide customers with airport service as well as advance pricing for car services. I would rather pay a bit more, knowing the amount, than take the risk of being charged whatever they deem an “acceptable price”. (We all know how that can end.)

At the end of my stay in New Orleans, I happened to run into a marketing and operations specialist, Carlos F., from Lyft (SF). The first thing that came out of my mouth was “as a large metropolitan city, why is there no advance pricing here for Lyft?” His answer was a bit vague stating there are issues displaying the pricing when the demand is extremely high. But, demand changes throughout the day, so if this service was actually offered, I never actually saw it at any time of the day. He empathized, saying that he has “heard about this issue from others” and has “put in an internal ticket for the Lyft developers” to address this. All great, but your company lost all of my business to your competitor for the entire week—and potentially longer.


Kathryn Minshew  , The Muse (Collision 2017)

Kathryn Minshew, The Muse (Collision 2017)


So, what will your future purchases will be based on? Experience.

Ironically, the conference I was in New Orleans for was hyper-focused on experience. Across industries and verticals, many of the discussions centered around how experience will be how we measure the future.

With the tech revolution aiding in expansive marketplace competition, we’re seeing a “sea of sameness” emerge. There are hundreds of apps, websites, and services that offer essentially the exact same thing–the main differentiators being the experience. So, instead of basing decisions on whether the product or service delivers on their promise (because the majority do), customers are beginning to base recurring purchase decisions on whether their experience was delightful, or as in my case, unsatisfying.

As I don’t work for Lyft, I don’t know the total impact of this situation on their business, but it’s certainly not helping OR keeping their customers delighted. In the driver/ride-share marketplace, customer options are quickly growing (See: Gett, Via, Sidecar, Juno, Wingz, Hailo–internationally) . Companies that can’t keep up with market expectations, will soon be left behind for better, more rewarding experiences somewhere else. Customer experience expectations are ever-changing, so if you don’t keep ahead, you’ll get left behind.

So, Lyft, if you're listening, I leave you with this thought...

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
— Bill Gates