Time for taxi companies to focus on 'heartware'

Taxi drivers are the bridge between the operator and its customers. Hence, it is important for operators to take care of their welfare.
Taxi drivers are the bridge between the operator and its customers. Hence, it is important for operators to take care of their welfare.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Trans-Cab's hefty reduction in rental fees is a desperate measure in a desperate time ("Trans-Cab cuts rental fees in bid to attract cabbies"; Dec 29, 2016).

It is a sign of the predicament some taxi companies are facing in trying to recruit and retain drivers.

As a regular taxi commuter who has heard taxi drivers' complaints about high taxi rental costs and the operators' lack of concern over their welfare, I feel this rental reduction has been a long time coming.

Taxi operators offer a homogeneous product - a ride from one place to another is the same, regardless of the company one uses.

Grab and Uber harnessed technology to differentiate their services. Traditional taxi operators are now playing catch-up and designing their own apps.

But where is this technology taking them?

While technology can be leveraged to create value, taxi drivers remain the bridge between operators and customers.

The next challenge for taxi operators is not so much about using technology but about winning over the hearts of their drivers and, hence, customers.

Chow Kok Fai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Time for taxi companies to focus on 'heartware''. Print Edition | Subscribe