Hello! I hope the summer is treating you all well, and that despite the record-setting temperatures, you are finding ways to stay comfortable and productive.
I also hope everyone reading this column has been keeping abreast of the news the TLC has been making this not-so-lazy summer…….we’ve launched two new group ride stands since we last spoke. One of these, at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, offering service to 59th Street and 6th Avenue, has been doing terrific business, and as we speak is averaging between 10 and 20 rides per day. The other is a brand new group ride stand at the Marine Air Terminal where the Delta Shuttle comes in. It’s not quite as active as the Port Authority Bus Terminal stand, but give it time and I am confident it will catch on. I strongly encourage everyone reading this column to visit our web site (www.nyc.gov/taxi) for more details. As all our group stands do, these offer an unbeatable opportunity for passengers to pay less, and for drivers to earn more……good for the environment, good transportation policy, GREAT for the pocket!
That having been said, I was inspired by a newspaper article from the other day about “taxi etiquette class” to discuss what’s really on my mind today. Of course, there really is no “taxi etiquette class” out there that the TLC requires its licensees to attend. What the article was referring to is a refresher course for “Persistent Violators” which talks about rules and regulations in general, and among other things, about customer service. It so happens that this course’s instructor, Andrew Vollo, is particularly charismatic and successfully communicates the value of customer service to cab drivers who have seemingly forgotten that they are in a service industry, but let’s be frank, it isn’t rocket science to understand that good customer service = happy customers. And, of course, happy customers = good tips.
So, what is good customer service? I think it’s more than simply smiling and being polite when responding to customers’ questions, or being receptive when they explain their destinations. I think it’s a whole attitude……a way of relating to others that says you’re genuinely happy to be serving, or at least interacting with them. Of course, not every day is a good one in the real world, and it will be harder on those days to put such an attitude across, but sometimes just the sincere effort alone is enough to earn a passenger’s respect.
This week, the web site Hotels.com revealed the results of a survey that it performed, which alleges that London’s black cabs were the best in the world. New York cabs came in second place…..no shame in that. It also said, however, that both New York and Paris drivers shared the top spot for “rudest cabbies.”
Once upon a time, the argument was that good customer service was an obligation of those privileged to hold a Taxi and Limousine Commission license. Later on, that argument “evolved” to the arguably more practical one that good customer service equaled better tips, and a better bottom line at the day’s end. With all due respect to Mr. Vollo, however, because he’s right in his contentions, I favor the former approach. I really do think the TLC license is a privilege, granted to someone who, by accepting that license, is making a promise to fulfill its requirements with professionalism and with honor.
Lofty goals and perceptions aside, how about we give London a run for its money in this survey next year, and shoot for number one? Better yet, how about we let Paris have the honor of “rudest cabbie” all for itself next year……after all, it’s the polite thing to do.