Monday, June 22, 2015

Re-embracing the Old !!

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Many many years ago, there were the yellow and black taxis which one used to travel within the city and then the sea green Meru taxis started to appear. The latter were much more organised with the drivers being well mannered and ready to go by the meter for a change. One just had to save a number on the phone and one call was enough to get a vehicle at one's disposal. That too on time. But they had a minimum fare policy which made it uneconomical if one had to travel short distances within the city.

Smart operators like Olacabs and Taxiforsure were quick to understand and capture the lion's share of this very lucrative market. They had no minimum fare policy, provided one with a cab in record time and turned out to be cost effective. As a result, many of us chucked those cranky auto-rickshaws in favor of a swanky cab.

Their spectacular success helped then raise millions of dollars of funding and they have been swift to introduce changes that kept them ahead of the competition. Smart moves like customer segmentation and getting those auto-rickshaws into the fold have paid off handsomely. And after making forays into smaller / tier 2 cities like Bhubaneswar, Nagpur etc, they have come up with a hitherto unheard thing. I am referring to the very ambitious Ola Air, allowing customers to book a chopper ride at prices starting from Rs 499 per hour. Now we just have to wait and watch if this revolutionary idea actually takes off.

But isn't meeting the customer expectations the very basic objective/goal that these startups should keep in their mind or rightfully on their agendas. Success cannot be measured only in terms of financial figures. At least not for very long. I would like to recount that my previous experiences with these cab aggregators has been less than pleasant.

I had booked an cab through Ola for a Sunday afternoon session at the Lalit Ashoka, Bangalore. When the cab did not turn up even 10 mins after the reporting time, I called the driver and was flummoxed when he asked me for directions from Sony World junction to Old Airport Road. Then next call to their call center was more fruitful and I finally got a cab but after an hour's delay.

The next time I chose TaxiforSure. They did not even bother to send me a message with the driver's number. And after a delay of nearly 2 hours, I got a call from the driver and I had no choice but to tell him that I did not need a ride any longer. That was followed by a call from the call center and an apology SMS. Good that they had the decency to accept their failure.

The last one disaster was with Savaari. I booked a cab for a couple of unsuspecting guests for a trip to Ooty. We paid rental for 300 km per day and three days in total. But once he reached Ooty, the driver refused to budge and said that Conoor was not a part of the itinerary. And he also fleeced Rs 900 from the passengers by claiming that he had to deposit the same at the Bandipur forest checkpoint on the way to Ooty. We have raised a complaint with the Savaari guys but have not received any response even though it has been two weeks now.

So, when I had to take a cab to the railway station last week, I chose to go back to Meru and was in for a pleasant surprise. I realized that while the others were busy trumpeting about their success, these guys had quietly improved their services. The SMS with the cab details came 15 mins before the reporting time, the driver arrived on time and an tracking sms was sent to my phone every 15 mins to keep us informed about the course charted by the cab.

Now, it does not take a genius to figure out where my current loyalty lies. As for the others who have raised enough money to party all through the night, I can only say that the "Wham. Bam. Thank you Maam." approach is good only as long as it lasts.

Disclaimer - This is NOT a sponsored post. The author has shared her own experiences and her opinions are merely from a customer's viewpoint. She prefers to leave the financial angle to "better qualified people", as she prefers to call them, folks holding fancy degrees from celebrated colleges .

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