Managing a taxi company can be a tough ask. The larger ones can have a thousand (or more) drivers patrolling a city, and coordinating them when a call comes in with a fare can be a two-and-fro between nearby drivers and the operator. And yet, although there is technology available to help smooth the process, it’s not so easy to execute a contact centre overhaul, and requires substantial time and resource investments.
A common trend for the taxi industry is to automate its contact centre. Historically, the process has been that a customer will call in, and a radio operator then makes a call over the two-way radio. The taxi driver would then respond. Through the use of GPS technology, however, far more efficient solutions are possible. It’s now much easier to locate a taxi close to a target destination, for instance.
Syncing GPS with an automated contact centre can therefore speed up the process of booking a taxi, and lead to a significant return of investment for the taxi company. The problem lies in rolling out such a solution to a large fleet and getting drivers, contact centre workers and customers comfortable with the process without affecting regular business.
Getting the balance right
When GlobalConnect started up discussions with a large taxi customer to move over to a largely automated system, it was therefore critical to not only get things right, but to provide advice and understand the nature of the company and industry first. The complete transition took six months, and had to be executed in precise stages to ensure there was minimal to no downtime throughout. GlobalConnect managing director, Pushkar Taneja, said there was apprehension throughout the initial engagement, but as an experienced player in this space, the integrator was well placed during the sales cycle to walk the customer through its concerns.
“When a change is made, there is apprehension with regards to how it will impact on a business and its customers, and those are the apprehensions highlighted upfront to ensure that it doesn’t have a negative impact,” Taneja said.
For the taxi company, the smooth transition to a new contact system isn’t something that can be accomplished during typical working hours. Mondays and Tuesdays are busy days with calls coming in, and a taxi company most definitely doesn’t want to miss out on the lucrative Friday and Saturday nights.
The key there, then, is preparation. “A lot of the time, we only had opportunities to take significant steps over weekends,” Taneja said. “We had to find timeframes that were very, very quiet, and that might well be in the middle of the night on a Sunday. That is when we’d go and do the switchover, but we made sure we were prepared for it so there was minimal disruption.”
Planning steps like that, and closely working with the customer to properly understand the nature of its business, is common nature throughout the sales process for GlobalConnect. Another common practice is to look over its customer’s business plans and goals for a couple of years, and make sure the solution is the right one for the company.
There are other, seemingly peripheral or smaller factors GlobalConnect also needed to consider. Centralising operations was an important step in allowing the customer to maintain a 13-type number, rather than using a local city number. This step allowed the taxi company’s customers to make a call without worrying whether they’re local or long distance, an important service for this industry to offer customers. And overall, an integrator should always be considering the customer’s customers when selling a solution. “What we heard from them is about improving the customer service level – that’s where the discussions start,” Taneja said.
“That’s why we have a hand-holding process after the technology is implemented – we have our experts available to ensure that if there is an instance where something is experienced outside of the normal, or someone is unsure of how the process works, then those questions can be answered.
“We also monitor the calls and if during a call a customer is getting stuck within a certain prompt, then an operator would take over the call – these are the kinds of things we anticipate in the initial phases of a rollout.”