I was an early adopter of Lyft. I had even used Zimride, John Zimmer and Logan Green’s original long-haul ridesharing concept, for a few trips to Tahoe. There are many things to love about the Lyft experience, but my favorite part would be the fist bump upon entering the car. You might not know what I’m talking about, so let me explain.
Early on, Lyft encouraged its riders to sit in the front seat. After getting in, you’d look at the driver and they would be looking back at you holding their fist out. Just sitting there. My initial reaction was, “This is awkward.” Then you’d realize, “Oh! They’re just giving me a fist bump”. And you’d pound it out and get on with the ride.
The fist bump has since faded away– although I am trying to keep it going!
So why does every marketplace need to find their fist bump? Two main reasons:
It establishes trust
Digital marketplaces and dual-sided platforms facilitate a direct connection between a supplier and a buyer. This can be scary for both sides, especially when it comes to face-to-face exchanges. Successful marketplaces are able to minimize friction in this transaction by creating an environment of trust.
The fist bump does exactly that. It not only creates a physical connection between both parties, but the gesture itself is one of welcome and introduction. With this simple gesture Lyft was able to foster an environment of trust throughout their marketplace. It cost them nothing. It required zero training. And it was deployed instantly.
It initiates a conversation
The fist bump is a non-verbal “What’s up?” Try to fist bump someone and NOT talk to them. It’s impossible. The fist bump starts a conversation that makes the ride more personal, which was Lyft’s goal. In fact, one of their early taglines was ‘A ride with a friend.’
I was taking a Lyft to SFO one morning and we were talking about music. The driver said he was a voice instructor and I had been interested in taking singing lessons for quite some time. For the next 25 minutes I got an impromptu singing lesson from the driver. I’ll never forget that moment: driving by Candlestick on 101 belting out lyrics at the top of my lungs with my new friend.
Creating this memorable experience continues to be Lyft’s primary differentiator against their main competitor Uber. Their respective slogans say it all:
Lyft: “Your friend with a car”
Uber: “Get there”
What does this mean for your marketplace?
Should you implement a fist bump for your suppliers starting tomorrow? No.
Marketplaces are very industry specific and the nuances matter. But in an effort to foster trust and create a memorable connection between your buyer and seller, you should think about what a fist bump might look like for your company.