I’ve had some recent comments from clients that, once I thought about them some more, got me thinking a bit deeper into what they were actually saying.
Their comments included “Your driving has been so smooth”, “First class service from door-to-door” and “We haven’t had this from a taxi service before”. Whilst their feedback was of course welcomed, it sparked something in my head about how we do things differently and what lengths we go to, to ensure that our clients have a great experience with us.
I’ve narrowed it down to two things… customer service and driving style:
The whole experience has to start from first contact from the client. Ensuring that phone calls are answered politely and professionally and their needs understood and clarified. Email contact responded to in as short a timeframe as possible. Confirming all the details required for their trip and providing them with a fast and competitive quotation. And above all, thanking them from the word go for their values custom.
On the day of their journey, I always ensure that their driver is with them 5 minutes ahead of their booking time so that we can usually depart as close to their booking time as possible. With the ever-increasing congestion on our roads, it’s the ideal place to ensure no time is lost.
The client is always greeted as sir or madam; their luggage is always taken to the vehicle and secured in the luggage compartment for them; and if it’s raining, we always ensure that the client is walked to the car with an umbrella – all things that, although simple, are core to delivering great customer service. What is more, our drivers are always smartly presented with a cheery and pleasant disposition… after all, if we’re taking them to an airport, this could be the start of their holiday, so there’s no place for a miserable or grumpy driver! Is an experience with a typical taxi company like this? I’m not convinced that is the case, especially on a consistency level.
I’ll come back to the drive to and from their destinations under the next heading below, but needless to say we always ensure that we’ve left ample time to arrive at their destination on time and have selected the most efficient route. Delays are the last thing that a client should have to worry about, especially if they’ve got a flight to catch!
Similarly, on a client’s return journey, timing is just as critical – we don’t keep them waiting when all they want to do is get home. Of course, whilst a pick up from a “normal” location is simple, we don’t let the complexities of collections from an airport phase us either. We’ll always arrange with a client exactly where we’ll greet them in whichever airport terminal they’re landing at. Instead of the usual hastily-scribbled signs, we use iPads to display the name of the client – certainly helps to make us stand out amongst the sea of laminates and clipboards!
And once we’ve escorted the client back to our waiting car (with us taking care of the luggage of course), the client can sit back and relax in comfort and take advantage of the refreshments we provide.
So that’s our “Customer Service 101”… but it’s the comments about our driving style that I think set us out. So here are the key things we do that prove that we’re experienced chauffeurs, not taxi drivers…
Driving Style – What We Do and How We Do It
Well of course, first of all there’s the obvious – smooth acceleration and sticking rigidly to the speed limits. Goes without saying really, but there are also the benefits to fuel economy!
Body Roll – one of the key things that we do to ensure passenger comfort is to avoid too much body roll. Yes, there will naturally be some when cornering, but remaining conscious about how much you’re moving the car is important. Nobody wants to be slung around in the back of a car
Cornering – our approach to left- and right-hand cornering differs. On a left-hand corner there is more tendency for body roll as the driving line is always tighter. So speed gets reduced accordingly to allow for this. On a right-hand corner, it’s easier to sweep round with less body roll, although attention still gets paid to speed
Braking – unless it’s in an emergency situation, there’s no need for sharp and sudden braking. If we’re approaching a junction or roundabout, we’ll start reducing our speed from about half a mile out, so that by the time we have to stop, we’re at a virtual crawl. This also reduces wear and tear on the brake discs and pads
Lane Changing – we try to minimise this, but there are of course the usual few lorries to overtake. As well as the odd tractor or two on the back roads of Suffolk! So when we do, we try to do this in plenty of time and re-join the original lane slowly, again minimising body roll and jerking
All of this combined ensures that we continue to get excellent feedback from our customers, we get much better fuel economy than the taxis that race around without considering their passengers and are better and more considerate drivers for it.
Think about adapting your driving style with some of the tips above – you could notice the difference in your wallet if nothing else…!