By Azeez Disu
“In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.” ~ Kate Leggett
Long queues, dragging of bags by competing transport bus staffs, delay in take off, nonchalant attitude to customers, loss of passengers’ luggages and others were some of the ugly situation at most bus terminals in Nigeria. The road transport companies were in a state of disorderliness.
The narrative is fast changing in most of these companies; they are now becoming customer-centric in their approach. They now deploy technology to make their booking easy and seamless. Most terminals now operate like a modern Airport.
They now take customers’ complain seriously to the extent of imposing fine on their drivers. Some brands like ABC transport pride themselves as luxury and safety brand while Cross country, Peace Mass and God is Good Motors emphasize on speed and safety.
These brands and others have constantly sought ways to become customer centric with their upgraded services, deployment of technology, and application of modern marketing and management practice to business.
Deployment of technology by Uber with its App to ease transportation process has shown to the world, how technology can enable the activities of transport companies worldwide.
The long queues at terminals have suddenly disappeared in major terminals. Customers who book ahead online now get discounts and those that decide to book at the terminal pay with ease within an environment well air-conditioned like a banking hall.
Many of the companies have a tracking device on their vehicles. They monitor their drivers’ speed and ultimately ensure that safety of their passengers is assured and they fulfill their brand promise of ‘safety’.
One of the players in the sector, God is Good Motors (GIGM) has fully deployed technology to ease its business operations.
“What informed this basically is because we wanted to make our services better for our customers and because we are a road transport company, one of the challenges that face our sector is safety. So, using technology to improve and drive safety is one of our passions and also providing the best services for our customers. As I said earlier, we are not there yet. This, for us, is a process for continual improvement.” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chidi Ajaere disclosed.
In addition, he said “one of the things we employed is technology. At GIGM, we have an Intelligence Command Unit (ICU) department, which has been able to design an in-house software that manages the speed limit of all our vehicles. From the ICU, we have Beat Spring computers that can pinpoint and monitor the location of each of our vehicles and also monitor their speed limit, so we are able to caution them as they drive because we have found out that the biggest contributor to road accidents in Nigeria asides bad roads is over speeding. So, if we are to reduce the speed limits of our captains, the next step is to train them.”
Contrary to what was obtainable in the past, the companies are now fully deploying marketing strategy to attract customers by launching series of integrated Marketing Communications campaigns to capture and retain customers.
Also, reduced fare, emphasis on luxury and safety, shift from under bridge to modern terminals closer to customers’ doorsteps are some of the firms’ unique selling points.
Similarly, customers’ enquires or complaints are being urgently attended to. Advertising messages are also displayed in the mass media and other media like below the line media. From the branded clothes worn by its staffs to souvenirs given to customers, the marketing atmosphere has become engaging and interesting than ever.
The road transport companies are booming at this time, especially with the reality of recession that has forced businesses and individuals to cut cost. The declining state of the Airlines and the crisis in the aviation sector has caused many to develop cold feet for flying. The sector is catching on this to boost sales.
The brands understand that acquiring new customers can cost up to 5x more than keeping existing customers, so they jealously look for ways to retain old customers by rendering quality service while on board and continuous engagement while off board. This is because customers report bad experience than report good ones
Looking at the Future
The companies are getting better every day; stakeholders believe the situation will even get better when the detestable state of the Nigerian roads is being addressed by the government.
Transporter under the aegis of Members of the Private Transport Companies of Nigeria (APTCON) lamented that “the high cost of maintaining fleet and the poor state of roads in the country among other challenges have greatly increased our cost of doing business, threatening our ability to stay afloat”.
More so, more needs to be done and more organizations in the transport sectors are yet to fully become customer centric because they still render poor services and have yet to optimatize of their operations.
In the words of Brian Solis “Customer centricity is a culture of putting the customer at the center of everything you”. In essence, if brands put the customer at the centre of everything they would win the consumers to their side and it would rob on their brand equity.