Social Media Lessons from… a Taxi Driver?

By Posted in - Social Media + Influencer Engagement on September 14th, 2011

I'm not the first person to notice @ChicagoCabbie's social media savvy. Chicago Dispatch just wrote about him, too.

How many times have you heard someone say “social media doesn’t apply to my business,” or “we can’t really use social media for what we do”? Are you guilty of saying that yourself? If so, this post is for you! I hope it will open your mind to new ways of working and thinking about customer service.

It all started when I was in Chicago a few days ago. My friend and fellow PRSA‘s Counselors Academy member, Lisa Gerber, offered to tweet me a cab. That’s right. Not call me a cab. Tweet me a cab. Lisa is social media hip like that.

I eagerly awaited the arrival of @ChicagoCabbie as my mind flooded with questions I wanted to ask this tweet wielding taxi driver. Based on his answers, here are my top three lessons that could apply to any business (or person) looking to create or raise a social media presence:

  1. Be curious. @ChicagoCabbie was an early Facebook adopter. When he heard about Twitter, he wanted to see what it was all about, too. Initially, he didn’t love Twitter, but he continued to experiment and wonder how he could use it.
  2. Ask yourself: What can I offer? After 13 years of driving passengers around the Windy City, @ChicagoCabbie knows a thing or two about the taxi industry. He also has a lot of general knowledge of the city and how to get around in it. People have questions. He has answers.
  3. Be honest about what you want out of it. And what you are getting out of it. “Are you getting more customers?” I excitedly asked, thinking I knew the answer. “There are still the same number of hours in my shift,” @ChicagoCabbie answered. True, very true. But consider this — as his last customer of the day, I was the fourth out of eight or nine passengers who requested pick-up via Twitter. Let’s just go with the easy math and say that’s 50 percent of his customers that day and think about the experience for the “Twitter half.” Qualified customers. Satisfied customers. Customers who like to tweet about his good service. And for @ChicagoCabbie, maybe it isn’t more customers, but I have to think these things ultimately mean more tips for him and I suspect increased job satisfaction.

Are you in a business that you think can’t benefit from social media? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Challenge us to help you come up with some ideas!




(12) awesome comment(s)...

  • Dana Hughens - Reply

    September 28, 2011 at 5:51 am

    When I spoke with students at NSCU earlier this week, they loved this story. I also referred to it in a new business pitch today when the prospect said he didn’t really get Twitter, and he seemed really intrigued. I think @ChicagoCabbie is opening a lot of minds about potential ways to use social media for business.

  • David H Lasker - Reply

    September 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Awesome indeed! So many of my cab experiences have been unpleasant, mostly regarding the acceptance of credit cards. When I learned about @ChicagoCabbie and saw the praise he receives on Twitter, it was easy to recommend him to anyone in Chicago seeking a cab, and bonus if they are on Twitter! He makes it so easy, in our current world of “mobile phones rule!” Plus, Rashid tweets some pretty cool pictures! Good/great/awesome customer service spreads swiftly! Great post, Dana! And, thanks @lisagerber for the mention. 🙂

    • Dana Hughens - Reply

      September 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      We are living proof of the power of word of mouth! Huh…. look at that… word of mouth about social media. I love when it all comes together. David, next time I’m in Chicago, I think we should hire Rashid for his entire shift and make it a party.

  • Lisa Gerber - Reply

    September 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Oh! and I forgot to mention, David Lasker was the one who introduced me to him. I should go find him right now. one moment, please.

  • Lisa Gerber - Reply

    September 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Here’s the thing; when anyone takes an active role in building their own business, shows initiative and seriously CARES, it really shows. It’s so easy to take the passive role, and passive attitude about social media (and anything else, for that matter), and then say it doesn’t work.

    @chicagocabbie’s good business sense doesn’t end with using the online tools. He really offers an exceptional customer experience, such as a clean cab, easily ACCEPTING CREDIT CARDS, which is always such a big deal in Chicago cabs, and simply, by following up with a thank you text.

    Great idea for a blog post, Dana! 🙂


  • Felicia - Reply

    September 14, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Love love love Chicago Cabbie! He uses technology like Google Latitude so I can quickly see if he is in my area when I need a cab. I feel safe booking him and knowing that he won’t flake, and that I’m in for a clean, smooth ride.

    And to echo Dana, he’s just an interesting guy!

    • Dana Hughens - Reply

      September 15, 2011 at 4:17 am

      Thanks for chiming in, Felicia. I didn’t know about Google Latitude — very cool!

  • Mitch Byrne - Reply

    September 14, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I meant Chicago Cabbie. Fighting with spell checker.

  • Mitch Byrne - Reply

    September 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Very impressed with Chicago Carries use of SoMe! Very clever in using google latitude to let customers track his location too! I have several friends that use his service on a regular basis & are always satisfied.

    • Dana Hughens - Reply

      September 14, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Mitch. I also felt an increased sense of safety. I like the idea that I can tweet about who is driving me back to the airport. Plus, he’s just interesting!

  • Abbie S. Fink - Reply

    September 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    This is awesome. And a perfect response to the age-old “I can’t find business on Twitter so why bother.”

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