Uber Banning Bad Customers: Is that Good Customer Service?

Banning bad customers ID 25942476 © Madmaxer

Uber Banning Bad Customers: Is that Good Customer Service?

Updated May 2022 (originally posted August 2019) Following our previous blogs which cover agent abuse is the question of banning bad customers. The goal is for both the customer and the agent to have positive experiences that benefit everyone and the bottom line. An abusive agent is detrimental to a company, as is an abusive customer. Is banning bad customers good customer service?

Uber Banning Bad Customers

Making headlines in 2019, for their for their passengers this time, Uber says they are banning low scoring customers

Numerous videos and stories online document abusive passengers throwing food at drivers, even threatening them. Some might be staged for Youtube views but not all. Safety is a major reason people avoid ride sharing services. Who wants to put up with that in a gig style job with no benefits and erratic pay? 

Uber might have taken this stance in part to take the spotlight off their abusive driver issue. Still, they are recognizing the importance of mutual respect: “Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability. Drivers have long been expected to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city,” Kate Parker, Uber’s head of safety brand and initiatives

Should you ban bad customers?

This raises a question for all businesses. It’s even more significant after the pandemic brought out incredible behavior from customers. Stories like customers throwing out the food they ordered to show their displeasure at how long it took, and flight attendants duct taping a drunk passenger to his seat after he assaulted them became more frequent. The United Food and Commercial Workers’ union surveyed their workers who said 85% of customers were ignoring social distancing.

How much does any person or business need to endure in order to remain financially viable? This isn’t just touchy feely business either. 

The Cost of Bad Customers

The is costs to dealing with customers who drain your support resources, whether through excessive interactions, harassing, or threatening your agents are too high. 

Bad customers can cost you your workforce. The Great Resignation shows that workers aren’t willing to have their well being ignored with many indicating disrespect as a factor. 

Quality assurance teams score your agents. It’s also worth it to score your customers. Yes, customer lifetime value (CLV) is important. Research has shown retained customers to have 5-25 times the value of new ones. However, customers with exponentially negative value need to be identified.

This information benefits you in multiple ways. From  Erik Sherman at Inc.: “The information you can gather through rating customers can help you discover unexpected problems, such as processes that fall short or the engendering of unreasonable expectations. The sooner you notice a negative pattern, the quicker you can find a solution before it adversely affects customer relations.”

A Chance to Improve

People are individuals and have varying levels of tolerance and different perceptions on what is acceptable behavior. Clearly defining your company’s limits of acceptable speech and action helps both sides know what to expect. 

According to their blog Uber provides passengers tips on how to improve their rating before banning them. Giving customers an opportunity to adjust shows a willingness to create positive business relationships.

A Note on Touchy Feely Business

By the way, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has been teaching Interpersonal Dynamics, colloquially known as touchy feely class, for over 50 years. It is one of their most popular and talked about business classes. A version of the class is also available for seasoned professionals. 

Being a leader requires many skills that go beyond the technical, strategic and mathematical kind. These classes focus on self-awareness, emotional intelligence, giving and taking critique effectively. 

This is metaphorical touching. However, Pino Bethencourt Gallagher on RealLeaders.com makes a great point about the balance of this for leaders “Real leaders touch many people’s lives every day. We impose our ideas and plans on others’ intentions, schedules and lives. We love change as long as it’s coming from us. But we need to understand how it feels to be touched physically in many different contexts in order to anticipate how our employees, clients, and other stakeholders are affected by our presence and push.” 

As a customer service leader you have power to impact the lives you touch. Do your due diligence. Collect the KPIs. Create actionable plans that protect your people and your bottom line, even if it means banning bad customers.