Sense of purpose

By May 24, 2014 Autos No Comments

Give me a sense of purpose
A real sense of purpose now
Give me a sense of purpose
A real sense of purpose now

Pic courtesy

Pic courtesy

Many months ago, I had requested a good friend and daily auto rickshaw commuter (let’s call her ‘Sue’) to ‘try out’ mGaadi. Not once, not twice but I wanted her to try out mGaadi for at least two weeks.

She humored me.

And how.

Sue tried mGaadi for almost two months.. making requests every weekday. Fulfillment was spotty in the initial weeks before it got streamlined and predictable.  By week#3, most of her trips were getting fulfilled. And not always with the same driver.

Perhaps Sue’s most laudable trait was that she took her rate-the-driver  responsibility very seriously. If our customer service agent forgot to collect rating, she’d call (or SMS) back and provide the rating. The rating logic would sometimes read like the scorecard of a gymnastics judge but it was always fair — neither lenient nor harsh. And it was almost always accompanied by a feedback qualifier – “four because he jumped a red light” or “three because he jumped two red lights and was constantly fiddling on his mobile phone” or “five because today he thought about jumping a red light, then changed his mind as though he remembered“.

The last comment is worth an elaboration. When commuters provide feedback, our customer service agents relay it to the drivers judiciously – i.e. after some elapsed time and never naming the customer. This last scenario is our first documented case of an mGaadi driver changing his driving behavior based on customer feedback.

Coming finally to the subject of this post…”

Sue and I caught up in person recently and we ended up chatting about  mGaadi.

Me: “Is the mGaadi thing working for you?”

Sue: “It’s working great actually. Sure there were teething problems in the beginning.. but I’m really glad I gave it a shot”

Sue (Continuing): “To be honest, I was skeptical initially. As a Bombay girl spoilt with excellent auto drivers, I always found the Bangalore auto drivers to be a huge letdown. I didn’t think it was possible for Bangalore auto drivers to raise their game. Furthermore,  I wasn’t sure about changing my own behavior.”

Me: “What do you mean by changing your behavior?”

Sue: “Well.. instead of going out to the street and start hailing autos, I have to plan ahead of time… mGaadi matches me with the right driver who then comes to pick me up…  I wasn’t sure initially whether this ‘new way’ was worth paying an extra Rs. 10 as pickup fee.”

Sue (pausing for effect): “It is totally worth it! I’m hooked now.”

Me (beaming): “You know that this is what I like to hear from all our customers…”

Sue: “One more thing I noticed. These mGaadi drivers are different. And I’m not referring to the mGaadi going on meter and rated drivers = better/well behaved drivers brand promise.”

Me: “How so?”

Sue: “The ones I meet on the street have a Russian roulette look — Dear god, where does this customer want to to go? Let it be a nice long juicy ride and not a short trip. Your chaps have a different air. They seem to have a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose (ala “professionalism”) that probably comes from “not being confrontational” and fulfilling a commitment… a commitment to pickup a customer from a certain point at a certain time for which they will be paid the meter fare and a pickup fee of Rs. 10. Clearly this is learned behavior and it will be great to see more such drivers in Bangalore.”

Me: “Wow. That’s a fascinating observation. I guess this is what Solomon means when he talks about transforming informal transportation workers to formal workers (professionals).”


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