Why Choosing the Wrong Customer App Could Cripple Your Business
4th April 2017
In previous articles we’ve looked at how the phenomenal rise in the use of ‘smart phones’ is changing the way taxi firms interact with their customers.
A great customer app can literally revolutionise your business (and we’ll share the results to prove it later in this post!) – but a poor, or even mediocre app could be very off putting for your customers.
Some customer apps offer limited functionality, and some are nothing more than a doorway to the taxi firm’s website.
And even worse, choosing the wrong consumer app could ultimately mean the loss of your customer data.
Not all consumer apps are created equal. Will your choice boost or cripple your business?
In this article we’ll show you how to tell whether the customer app you’re considering is one that will boost or cripple your business.
Here are the key things you should consider, and some of the benefits you can reap directly from a great app…
Apple and Android Compatibility
If you’re considering an app that only works on one system or the other, forget it! That’s a fast route to alienate a huge potential audience, not to mention frustrating any customers who use multiple devices.
But “cross platform” functionality isn’t guaranteed.
Apple in particular makes app developers jump through a lot of hoops before they’ll let them on board, so be sure you check with your customer app provider (before you buy) that they offer full functionality on both Apple and Android. Never assume!
Your Name on the Cover – White Labelled vs. Branded
Beware ‘white labelling’ (or worse still, an app with the developer’s name ahead of yours – they do exist!).
A white labelled app may sound great, but what it may mean in reality is that your name and brand is applied to someone else’s app (your dispatch system providers app).
If you don’t own the registration of the consumer app this means that if in the future you change dispatch system providers you may not be able to migrate your customers to your new app.
Your customers could remain stuck with your old dispatch system provider, which could be fatal to your revenue as you would have to start building your app customer base from scratch again.
Does this mean you need to develop your own customer app?
No, not at all. That’s a major expense that you don’t want or need.
The answer is to be sure that your customer app is ‘branded’ with your name, logo and branding AND is registered with Apple and Android in your name.
A branded app means that if in the future you change dispatch system providers you can easily migrate YOUR customers to your new app through a straightforward app update.
‘Branded’ vs. ‘white labelled’ is a subtle but crucial distinction. You want an app that’s 100% yours.
Some dispatch system developers will try to cut corners with this, because it takes them more work to produce completely branded apps than it does to simply tweak a template. But don’t accept anything less than your very own app if you want to protect your business!
“Out of Area” Notifications
You know how frustrating a booking from outside your regular patch can be.
All those dead miles a driver has to cover – all that time when he could be driving on the clock. And that’s before you run the risk of prank calls or someone simply finding another cab locally and disappearing before your driver arrives.
A top-quality app will automatically warn users that the firm they are looking at doesn’t usually operate in their area.
And it will also give you the chance to reject a booking if you don’t think it’s going to be worth your while taking it.
A Genuine Boost to Business
We’ll take a look at some of the most important features from the customer’s point of view in just a moment – but when you choose the right app, you can expect to see a real hike in business.
In fact, taxi firms using the iCabbi consumer app regularly report an average of 20-25% of their bookings coming in through the customer app!
That’s 20-25% of bookings that are easier to process, cheaper to fulfil and, with the right set of features, virtually self-managing.
What would that kind of shift mean for your business right now?
But, it’s not likely to happen if your customers don’t love your app. So, let’s take a look at some of the most important features today’s customers expect.
If you’re looking at an app that doesn’t tick all these boxes, you might want to think twice before you sign on the dotted line.
When a customer wants to book a cab, they don’t want to hang about. Attention spans and patience are famously short these days!
A great app will immediately pinpoint the customer’s location as soon as it is activated.
A truly brilliant app will show them exactly where the nearest available taxi is, and how long it will take to reach them.
When you make it this easy for a customer to get up and running, they’ll use your app time and time again.
Direct Driver Contact
Now here’s a feature that customers absolutely love – and it’s great for you, too! Once a booking has been made (not before) customers can call their driver direct, right from the app.
Decided to wait next door out of the rain? Nipped into the supermarket for some urgent supplies? There’s no need to relay messages through the dispatch office, customers can simply let their driver know.
How much time could that free up for your controllers?
Of course, customers will sometimes want to speak to “the office”, so there should absolutely be an icon in the app to let them do that easily. Check, before you make your decision!
We said attention spans were getting shorter, didn’t we? Well as technology improves, customers are no longer satisfied with a “your cab will be there soon” message. The top consumer apps will let your customers watch their cab in real time, right there on their screen.
They’ll be able to see precisely how far away the cab is, and exactly how long it will take to arrive – all without bothering your dispatchers.
A great app will have your customers ‘tied in’ with its great features. But it will also make your life so much easier!
The best apps allow customers to edit or even cancel their bookings on the spot. Of course changes to bookings (or cancellations) can be a pain – but by handling them in the app, your drivers can get the updated information faster than ever before, meaning less time is wasted and more time is spent driving profitably!
A Host of Benefits for Regular Customers
A brilliant app can be a boon for an occasional user – but regular travellers will find it even more appealing.
With the right app, you’ll be able to provide your customers with ‘e-receipts’ for both cash and card transactions, and they’ll be prompted to store their payment details for faster payment processing.
Hint: some apps include card storage only as an option in the settings menu, so check your app physically prompts for it – you’ll see a much higher uptake!
Plus, regular travellers can store their most-used pick up and drop off points, to make it even faster to book a taxi for their most common journeys.
Picking a great consumer app could be one of the most profitable steps you’ll take for your taxi business. The right app can save you hours of manual effort, and the value of the positive impression it will give your customers is almost beyond measurement.
Picking a dud could see you drop off the map in next to no time. It’s really that serious.
We hope the information in this article will help you to make an informed and successful decision.
But if you still have questions you can always contact us here for obligation-free advice – please call us now on 01623 44 22 11 or email us on enquiries@iCabbiUK.co.uk.