What makes ridesharing companies and other disruptive business models a threat to the taxi industry? It depends on who you ask. People with knowledge of the industry will likely talk about deregulation, and how failure to hold rideshare companies to the same pricing and fleet standards makes it hard for regulated businesses to compete.
If you talk to customers, however, you’ll probably get a different story. They want an on-demand, digital experience. Rideshare services have done well at this part of the game since day one, while many taxi companies have been slow to catch up.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all is lost for taxis. But it does show that the digital experience is an excellent place to start for fleets looking to gain a competitive edge—and as a rule, a mobile app is the point of entry for that experience. Here are just a few reasons that an outdated app—or the complete lack of one—is holding your company back in the era of ridesharing.
How Taxi Companies Can Capitalize on Consumer Values
In a recent story on millennial consumer behaviour and personal vehicles, we wrote that this generation of customers evaluates convenience, choice, reviews and cost when making a purchasing decision. Add in concerns over transparency and safety, and you have the needs of the wider taxi consumer base pegged. When reinventing your taxi app, make sure that you keep the following in mind.
1. Make It Responsive and Convenient
Does your app allow customers to easily see available cabs in their area, book a trip and estimate or submit payment? Once booked, are trips easily rescheduled or cancelled in the same app? If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, your taxi services are already trailing behind the convenience of the ridesharing competition. Today’s customers are used to purchasing and organizing from their phones: the latest apps aim to reduce consumer friction as much as possible in order to streamline the customer journey. Being able to schedule a pickup—or alter a scheduled pickup—from an app is becoming critical; the days of customers willing to wait on hold for a call centre agent are coming to an end.
2. Offer More Choice
What differentiates your company from other fleets in your area? How do you ensure your customers choose your cabs instead of the competition? One way to offer value to your customers is to improve the amount of choice they have when engaging with your app. Whether selecting from different nearby drivers or choosing between paying in-app or in cash, the power to customize their experience from the outset is one many of today’s consumers have come to expect. Can users select from a variety of vehicles? Can they get an up-front indication of how long they’ll need to wait and what a trip will cost? By having this information available, taxi companies provide the choice and transparency needed to turn riders into repeat customers.
3. Let Riders Leave Reviews
The third way companies can boost appeal is by placing an emphasis on customer satisfaction through user reviews and ratings. Especially among millennials, the ability to leave reviews and be heard by the companies they engage with is a rising priority. Giving customers the ability to see a driver’s rating ahead of a trip can provide hesitant customers with the reassurance needed to give your service a try; after the ride is done, a review system allows your customers to both reward great drivers with a high ranking and notify your head office of a bad experience. The data your company can collect via reviews is invaluable: it can help you determine which drivers are doing a great job with customer service and which may need extra training and support.
4. Manage Cost
Cost can be the hardest element for taxi companies to control when competing with ridesharing services, but an app can help. As with ridesharing apps, a good software solution should allow you to offer dynamic pricing. For instance, services could be offered based on passenger preferences—whether they want the quickest service available or the most affordable. Technology is not just about improving the experience for passengers, but should also help drivers, dispatchers and the company as a whole. Good software will offer the visibility needed to allow your network of drivers to operate more efficiently. By knowing where other drivers in the network are and where passengers want to go, allocating the best car for the job becomes much easier.
5. Make Sure It All Works
While the above is important, it’s even more important to make sure that the functionality works as it should. Customers won’t tolerate an app that’s littered with bugs and clunky to use. Social media and ridesharing apps have set the bar high, and if taxi companies want to compete, they need to offer a similarly sleek and responsive user experience. In an attempt to offer passenger-facing apps, some taxi services have rushed to market with apps that simply aren’t as good as those offered by ridesharing companies, and these can do more harm than good. A bad app that leaves consumers wondering if a cab is actually on the way or if payment has gone through can be worse than no app at all.
Don’t Do It Alone
Push back against the ridesharing trend by ensuring your taxi app is as user-friendly as any on the market. Making the leap from an outdated app to responsive technology can be a daunting prospect, so choose a technology partner to smooth the transition, and design an app customized to your fleet’s needs. DSS can help you create a branded app that offers the user experience passengers demand.
Image: Shutterstock / GaudiLab