There are situations during a chauffeur’s day when he or she believes there is an explosive situation that is about to go off. I make it my job to identify these situations and communicate with my passengers, thereby diffusing the bomb.
Here’s a scenario that has happened to me dozens of times: I’m en route to a pick up and I know I will not be 15 minutes early. Even worse, there have been times I just received a ride from dispatch and I knew right away that I would be 15 minutes late for the pickup.
The secret to diffusing the bomb of the potentially angry customer is not to show up in their driveway 15 minutes late, but to call ahead and explain I’m on my way to pick them up. I confidently say I’ll be there in 15 minutes and they will not miss their flight. This immediately diffuses their anger and anxiety. They appreciate the heads up and advanced notice, so they are not surprised.
Curb Side Catastrophe
In mid-August, I was training a new chauffeur and we were at Newark Airport, waiting for a curbside pickup. The customer’s plane landed and I texted her (like I always do). She replied that she was going to baggage claim to get her bags.
About 45 minutes later, she said she had her bags and was going outside to meet us. It took another 30 minutes for us to get to her at Terminal C Arrivals because the traffic at Newark Airport was so bad.
Boy was she furious! She was cursing us out and trash talking in Spanish. My trainee speaks Spanish and knew every word she was saying, but he kept his cool. I explained we had to circle the airport because the Port Authority Police told me to move my vehicle. She didn’t care; she was still mad. I told her she had every right to be upset. I apologized for her inconvenience. She eventually calmed down and we drove her home safely. Shockingly, she did not give either of us a tip.
Car Seat Crisis
In mid-July, I picked up a passenger with the same trainee. We were delayed in meeting her curbside because I had to go home in Union (8.6 miles from Newark Airport) to get an infant car seat for her baby. I called ahead and explained to her that the chauffeur who was originally assigned to her did not have a car seat, so dispatch sent the ride to me,
Ironically, I had picked up this woman and her infant son a week earlier and brought them to Newark Airport.
After I explained the situation to her, she still was not happy about the current situation but she did thank me for explaining what happened and showing up with the car seat for her infant son. As we proceeded to the route to bring her and her son home safely, I noticed there was an accident on Route 78 (what else is new?)
I asked if she wanted to get home in 30 minutes or 90 minutes. She replied 30 minutes, of course! I told her I was going to find a short cut to get her home faster. Sure enough, 30 minutes later, we pulled into her driveway. She seemed to have forgotten about the car seat crisis and thanked us for avoiding the traffic and getting her home quickly and safely.
The moral of this Street Story is to be proactive with your customers. Head off a potential issue or problem by calling ahead and informing them what’s going on. Most times, doing this will diffuse the bomb of their discontent.