I’m a VP at Lyft and here’s how we approach recruiting and team building

By Mary Winfield

Cooking is important to me because it’s how I connect with the people I love most: my family, my friends, and new people in my life, too. Cooking with love provides food for the soul. I’ve learned that the most important thing to great cooking is choosing and using the highest quality, wholesome ingredients possible.

“Cooking” at Lyft is all about using great ingredients and great recipes to take care of our customers and feed their souls. I want the experience to be different from any other customer experience organization, for it to be full of connection and care.

Lyft’s mission is to improve people’s lives by providing the world’s best transportation. My role in helping to make that a reality is to deliver a world-class experience that our customers–both drivers and riders–love and trust. The Customer Experience and Trust (CET) teams deliver this through working across every function at Lyft, identifying issues, and solving customers’ problems while ensuring or restoring trust. All of it working to keep drivers driving, and riders riding, with Lyft as their first choice.

One of our mantras around people is “hire to delight.” And one of my favorite stories that conveys how our people are at the heart and soul of our success is about a Lyft driver and Joe, a Lyft Associate.

This Lyft driver, who didn’t understand why his driving privileges had been deactivated, called our Critical Response line to find out why. Lyft’s customer experience associate Joe, who answered the driver’s call, explained that we had received multiple reports that the driver’s photo didn’t match his appearance. The driver in question explained that his driver photo, taken in the early stage of his transition, still reflected his feminine features and not his present appearance.

As an active member of Lyft’s Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ team members, Joe was empathetic to the driver’s experience. Joe encouraged him to update his photo as he continued through the transition journey and reactivated his driver account. Joe closed their conversation with some words of encouragement: “Always fight to be who you are, and not who others think you should be.”

The driver was thrilled to know he’d be back on the road and appreciative of the time and effort Joe put into his case. Taking the time to connect and talk with a customer about what’s going on in their life and day allows us to share stories and connect authentically in the moment.

So, how does Lyft hire to delight?

Our hiring process focuses on three core factors about the candidate. They need to be aligned with Lyft’s core values, they must care deeply and authentically about our customers and their experience, and they get energy from the work of customer care. On the job, there are no phone scripts to follow, so it’s an absolute must that candidates are able to care and engage with customers with authenticity.

To successfully test for these three components, we evaluate through a matrix of value and empathy-focused questions through a combination of in-person interviews, situational prompts, and group interviews and assessments. Our questions are creative, open-ended, and behavior-based in both one-on-one interviews and in role-play scenarios. Sample questions might include, “How do you empower those around you within a team to be their best?” or “How do you know when you have delivered a delightful experience to a customer?”

Once the candidate makes it through our interview process, our onboarding training program runs two weeks, followed by a couple of weeks of skills training before starting on-the-job training. Our first priority is to have associates listen in to calls, which exposes them to the real-life work they’ll be doing within the first three days. We use actual examples in a controlled environment, with side-by-side leader-supported live contact resolutions. Throughout those weeks, they get daily and weekly feedback to see if this is the right-fit role, and together, we make sure this is the work they want to be doing.

Ultimately about 4.25% of candidates that apply to customer support roles at Lyft are hired, and for people leaders, that number is reduced to about 1.4%. Who you hire and how you bring them into your organization is the most critical and often overlooked input into great customer experience. Make sure you have the best.

Mary Winfield is the vice president of customer experience and trust at Lyft.


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