A Yellow cab driver, first in line, which means she was obligated to accept the first customer, refused to take me from Union Station to my downtown office. It is not a big fare, but I tend to tip generously because I respect the fact that hacking a cab is hard work, requiring long hours to make a decent living.
As I stood around while other Yellow cab drivers argued with my driver about her responsibility, I realized that her refusal was based on a strategy to wait for a longer trip and a bigger fare. She was willing to break a time-honored cab industry rule and create conflict with her fellow drivers to achieve her marketing/revenue maximization objective. Increased revenue, not good service, was her top priority.
Frustrated, I walked away and took the light rail.
Later in the day, I saw a clever, hip television advertisement for the new Microsoft notepad called Surface. It is a $650+ entry into the portable computer market designed to compete with Apple’s hugely successful iPad. Microsoft, which has always been about software—and unbelievably mediocre customer service—is now entering the hardware segment, the frustrations of their former hardware partners notwithstanding.
Microsoft’s ad with snappy music and a television screen-full of 20-somethings joyously dancing, opening and clicking their new tablets, started me thinking about the dynamics of Microsoft’s attempted frontal assault on Apple. There are plenty of disconnects:
There is a lesson here for Microsoft and ambitious cab drivers. When you are number one in line, embrace your customers, take great pride in delighting them with best-in-industry service and support, even when they are a mere small businessman who just wants to get back to work.
© 2012 John Gregory Self
© 2021 John Gregory Self