The Sharing Economy – Lessons learned on the road

Sharing Economy Keynote Presentation: What I Learned As a Driver – And Why It Matters To Everyone.

A great presentation is not a book report.  The speakers who want to captivate and educate know their subject intimately and had done their homework on the subject.  As the world of work is changing, more and more people are having to find creative ways to make ends meet.  Many have turned to driving for Uber, Lyft and other “Collaborative Consuming” services that allow for consumer to consumer commerce.  This is why I decided to jump in and learn what I could from being a driver.  Turns out there is more going on in this world than I had ever imagined.

I was instantly surprised by the professionalism of the company I chose to drive with and the level of sophistication of their clientele.  In my first twenty rides I picked up two people who I knew, which showed me without a doubt who was the demographic of the passengers (they were like me and my friends).   I wondered if people would be friendly, or treat the ride mainly as a transaction.  100% of the people I have encountered are amazing souls who were happy to chat and share their story (granted I chose not to drive the downtown party district on the weekends).

Many of the people need these services to get to their job.  One girl who worked in a sandwich shop said to take a bus means leaving home over two hours before her shift.  Using the app means heading out the door 15 minutes ahead of her necessary arrival time.  That hour and 45 minutes is a lot of time she can be doing other things.  Lyft gives her freedom.

One of the reasons the sharing economy is doing so well (currently over $15 billion world wide, but expected to be $335 billion by 2025) is because the regular economy is not doing well.  Middle class earnings have been flat or gone backwards for nearly a decade, and people need to find ways to fill in the gaps in their income.

Many city councils and other government entities are up in arms about what do do with the sharing economy and how to tax the business.  The Taxi and hotel companies are lining the campaign pockets of elected officials hoping to stop this trend, but this dog is out and there will be more services like Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, etc… coming to a service near you.  This is more than cars and sleeping rooms, but instead a way that is connecting people with the products and services they need in a come convenient and cost effective manner than traditional business.

Some people love these services, others hate them.  However predictions are 80% of the population will be using some of the services in the sharing economy by 2017.  Once they use one service, they are more likely to use others.  While there are safety concerns for the customers and the providers in a world where you cannot blindly trust everyone who shows up to do business with you, but most who are engaged are good people just trying to get things done. There is way more going on than earning a few dollars by chauffeuring people around.

The experience of the shared economy can vary greatly depending on who you run across as a service provider or as a customer.  As a long time customer of Uber, Lyft, AirBNB, VRBO and others, and a fan of these services, I wanted to know what it was like to be a driver.  For years I have asked the drivers about their experiences, and since my older brother drove a New York City taxi for many years, I admire and respect what drivers must do to serve their clients. With my daughter away at college I was paying for her 4 door car that just sat in the driveway, and I figured with just a few hours a week I could make cash flow neutral, or even make a few dollars.

It did not take long to start earning a few dollars, but more interesting was the level of engagement I found with thep people who got into my car. I did not expect was the close up and personal encounters with real people from a variety of walks of life and the lessons I would learn from participating as a driver.  It was not my intention to find the high level of learning about people that I was able to discover.  These lessons can inspire people in all industries about customer service and customer experience.

It is easier to engage people, even in our social media and gadget crazy world.  People want to connect and get excited when others ask questions and listen to them.

Imagine if you talked to 100 strangers and found out they all had more in common that you had ever imagined.  What if everyone was nice, and had a story they were excited to share?

This presentation will inform the audience about the sharing economy, but more importantly it will change the way they interact with their own internal and external customers.  The customer experience is all about how you make other people feel, not about the design elements of your shop, website, or other physicality.

Hire Thom Singer for a keynote that is ripped from the headlines as the sharing economy struggles with its own growing pains. These are lessons that can help every business owner, manager, and employee as they seek way to interact with people on a daily basis.  All opportunities come from people, and each person you meet has a desire to feel that you care.  How your individual team members relate to others will impact their impression of your whole company.  Don’t miss any opportunity to make your clients your honored guests.