Uber and Lyft are superb services that I love to use and finding myself relying on often. Almost all of my interactions with the drivers and the company have been positive. The cars are clean, fast, and typically prompt. As long as everything runs fine there are no problems. Unfortunately, when it comes to out of the normal issue then the phone number is non-existent. Businesses would be wise to ensure customers can contact them for unique issues.
There is a growing trend to remove the phone number completely and force people into a very simplified decision tree with limited options. Customer support costs money and in an effort to reduce this cost and "pigeon hole" people actions in companies like Uber turn a blind eye to brewing problems. They are not receiving important feedback and information on how to improve their service.
Let us consider my situation where the driver had a hard time following his map and drove around adjacent streets. When he finally found the right street he drove right past us and cancelled. We waved at him and tried to get his attention but he was focused on the wrong side of the street. No stop, no attempt to contact us, nothing !!!When we re-requested he picked up and cancelled again.
Noticing the $5 charge and a little disturbed because of it I attempted to contact the company. I could not find a phone number and eventually used the form. I wanted to inform Uber of the incident and give them some details so they can understand that the driver has some responsibility to stop at the address before charging us.
The form doesn't allow for added information so there is no method on including input on what happened. Once the fee has been rejected, based on false driver information, it becomes more difficult for the Uber representative to reconsider. It is human nature for people to want to be "right" and changing people's minds once a decision has been rendered is difficult to have the person reconstruct a different possibility.
The good news is that once a decision is made there is an opportunity to reply to the representative directly. After pointing out the long-term policy implications of allowing drivers to charge customers for their mistakes I received a positive outcome. The $5 fee was put back into my account indicating that a few people "get it" and there is some hope for humanity!!!!
Taking into consider that cost of customer service and the desire not to deal with all the "chronic complainers" there are a couple of suggestions for companies like Uber to consider when deciding not to have easy to find phone numbers.
1. ) Allow the form to include specific customer input.
2.) At the end of submission allow for a phone number in case the issue isn't resolved.
3.) With a little extra digging allow customers to find your phone number 3-4 clicks into the page once the other options have been exhausted.
4.) Make sure that you are creating as many feedback loops with your customers as possible.
5.) If there is indication that customers are not happy with their ability to contact your representatives consider putting the number back up in a more obvious place.