How to have great conversations with your riders

Striking up conversations with your riders can be a great way to increase your tips and boost your rating, and ultimately make sure your riders have a great experience. Good conversations can also help to break up your day, and keep any awkward silences to a minimum. 

Less face-to-face contact during lockdown has left many people craving a good chat, so we thought it’d be worth looking at this issue in more detail. 

In the first article of our conversation series, we look at how to spark a conversation in the first place. Here are some suggestions on good conversation starters, how to keep the chat flowing, and some other things to bear in mind. 

To talk or not to talk?

The first thing to say here is not every rider (or every driver!) wants to talk during their trip. With the best will in the world, you can have all the best conversation starters and be asking the most interesting questions, but if the rider isn’t up for it the conversation will fall flat before it’s even started. 

If all you’re getting is one-word responses, there’s no point trying to force a conversation. Just go with the flow and enjoy a peaceful ride. 

Also think about the time of day when picking someone up – early morning starts for business trips may be less likely to make for good conversation if people are still waking up. Late-night trips (as the night time economy gets going) tend to make for chatty riders, though maybe not high-quality conversation.

Generally, the advice from fellow drivers is to let your rider take the lead. It should be pretty clear from the start whether they’re keen to talk, or whether they’d prefer to scroll through their phone instead.

Conversation starters

Once your rider is settled, a simple ‘how are you?’ or ‘how is your day going?’ is a quick way to open up a conversation. You’ll also get a sense of whether your rider is up for talking, and perhaps what kind of mood they’re in. 

From there, (and assuming your rider wants to chat), you can move the conversation on a bit. You might talk about where your rider is heading, and this can be useful on trips like airport runs. For example:

  • Have you been there before? 
  • Are you travelling for work?
  • Do you have family there? 

And so on. 

For tourists and first-time visitors, as well as the usual local landmarks and places of interest, you can point them to interesting events that are coming up, recommendations for places to eat and things to do.

These kinds of conversations can also work for locals, with some changes:

  • Did you know that [event] is coming up/happening later?
  • Have you been before?
  • What did you think?

People who live locally might be keen to hear about what’s going on in their neighbourhood, or new places to try.

If you’ve asked them about their day, you might follow this up by asking about their plans, if they’ve got anything exciting they’re doing today, or by talking about your own day a little bit. And if in doubt, you can always chat about the weather.

Keeping the conversation going

For longer trips, or just to keep things flowing, try finding some common ground with your rider, perhaps shared hobbies or interests, or uncovering the places you have in common, like perhaps your kids going to the same school.

Conversations might spring up from what’s playing on the radio, such as a certain song or something on the news. 

Asking what people do for a living, the kind of sector they work in and whether they enjoy it can also lead to some good talking points, especially if their job is interesting or unusual. 

At a practical level, you might also want to sense-check the route you’re taking, or get some feedback on their experience of Uber or any other platform. 

YouTuber Your Driver Mike has some tips on great conversation starters here:

Overall keep questions polite and brief, and try not to stray into anything too personal. 

Ending the trip

Maybe you’ve had some pleasant chat to pass the time, or been surprised to have a really interesting conversation with an engaging passenger. Or maybe not. 

However the ride has gone, it’s worth trying to end it on a positive. It’s an obvious and small thing, but remembering to thank your rider and wish them a good day, or safe travels, is a nice way to round things off. And if they carry that good feeling with them, you may see that come through when it comes to tips. 

At INSHUR, we want to help our drivers any way we can. To get your private hire insurance sorted quickly, check out our coverage options today. 

 

Sources:

https://www.cleangreencars.co.uk/taxi-insurance/small-talk-starters-for-new-taxi-drivers/

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-topic-to-start-a-conversation-with-your-Taxi-driver

https://www.uberpeople.net/threads/conversation-passenger-pickup-routine.190032/#post-2832397

https://free-now.com/uk/turning-small-talk-into-real-talk/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j45hrBdorvw