Air Conditioned Cabs – how will they differentiate

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Luxury services spoil you. Last month I made multiple trips to the suburbs and preferred to use the Air Conditioned cab services over the local trains. And anybody who has booked an AC cab in Mumbai will tell you the good times and bad times when you can get a cab easily.Thankfully, there are about 4 operators in Mumbai currently so you’ve got a sufficiently large fleet to choose from. Of which 3 have an uniform pricing, pretty much the same service levels [unless its an exceptionally super smiling super efficient driver].

As a consumer, I think we aren’t yet getting brand loyal when it comes to booking an AC cab. You just dial, and take the first can available to take you from A to B. Open and shut case. But how does the operator start getting customers to dial only their services during non-peak hours.

So I did some thinking and thought of a few things which might make an operator the preferred choice of AC cab.

Loyalty Club.

Book an x number of trips in the month and you could get a gift voucher or an exclusive discount coupon on your next trip. I am sure quite a few brands will want to sponsor it.

Priority Customer.

You get priority over the non-members during peak hour bookings. You get a 30 min free wait. And some more freebies can be bundled.

Make the drive an experience.

I’ve seen in-cab magazines. How about offering a bottle of water [make it paid]. Mouth fresheners etc. Can a new snack brand offer a free sample pack for the try.

Cab quality.

Ensure the AC cab is not going the ‘kaali-peeli’ way. It should be clean, smell nice and please no cockroaches under the seat, please. And yeah that AC better work at the best level.

Drivers, please suit up.

Ensure a quality check on the drivers. Do they smell like straight from a no-bath zone. Are they chewing too much of that masala making the cab smell like a paan factory.

Make a noise.

I don’t see the cab companies advertising. I didn’t know there was Easy Cabs and Star Taxi in Mumbai until I happen to see them on the road and had to make a quick note of their numbers. What’s keeping them away from advertising or building a brand name. At least the multi-city ones will be able to spread the ad costs across a larger fleet.

What’s your experience with AC cabs been like? What are the features you think would make you loyal to a brand?

Mumbai Taxi Ride

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The last few days I have been using the taxis quite extensively. Although they are more comfortable than a bus I think they provide you with a totally different kind of experience. After the bus drivers if there is somebody who can be called the king of the roads it surely is the Taxi Driver. He rules the roads.

They have a very uncanny style of riding their mean machines. There no lanes for them – the road is a road and it’s all ours so we can turn right, left or even break, when we feel so. For this lot, everybody else on the road is a bloody fool and does not know how to drive. I remember a taxi driver once telling a Mercedes driver who got very close to his vehicle:

Drive carefully, you have a lot to loose. My car won’t get even scratched by yours.

mumbai-taxi.jpgI believe these guys should be sent to a driving school for a minimum of 6 months which should comprise of learning and practical sessions. Recently, when I was driving around in New Zealand, I kept telling Nitika that even one taxi driver from Mumbai is good enough to disrupt the traffic around this place.

Oh, let’s not forget about the state of their taxis. Headlights – What are they? Direction indicators – they never learnt to use these. Sometimes the interiors will stink so badly you won’t survive the journey.

All in all I can’t be very mean also. Taxis have been helping Mumbaikars get along with their work and not to forget these are the souls who get you home late into the night when the trains and buses have stopped their services.

Photo courtesy: ddasbg