07 Dec Customer experience: The tale of Nigerian ride-hailing users
Over the years, consumers’ options for transportation and mobility have expanded with the gradual introduction of ride-hailing services. The demand for these services has made the industry gather moat globally and locally. In this industry – and most service-providing industries – the experience of customers is a key influencer of a business’ survival, relevance, and long-term growth. This happens because innovative players always push the customer experience bar higher and move ahead of the pack.
In the case of ride-hailing businesses, this experience refers to every interaction a customer has with the business, from navigating the ride-hailing app to interacting with the driver; timely response to customer inquiries and complaints; and the ride from location to destination.
Considering that ride-hailing service providers have made Nigeria a destination, Ciuci Consulting has embarked on a study to assess the customer experience of the ride-hailing users on the two most popular platforms, Uber and Bolt (previously known as Taxify). The online survey was conducted using a randomly selected sample of respondents.
Overall Customer Experience
75% of the respondents said they had used either of the ride-hailing services in several locations. Most respondents said they had used the services in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, and Port-Harcourt, respectively. In rating their overall customer experience, over 35% of the respondents who preferred Bolt gave the service provider an above-average rating (4 and 5 stars), while over 25% of the respondents who preferred Uber gave it an above-average rating (4 and 5 stars). Their reasons included reliability, value for money, safety, convenience, being valued as a customer, etc.
These reasons and more were used to determine the respondents’ customer loyalty, satisfaction, and their tendency to engage in word-of-mouth marketing.
Quality and Customer Loyalty
Improving the quality
of service is a key factor in sustainable differentiation and competitiveness
in the ride-hailing industry. The long-term survival and competitiveness of ride-hailing
businesses in Nigeria are deeply connected to the quality of services they
render; and their ability to satisfy and build long-term relationships with
customers and ultimately gain their loyalty. Although most of the respondents
are loyal to the brands that they use, 20.2% indicated that they switch between
both brands, and research shows that this is likely to increase. We
also found out that 55% of those who switch between both brands were males
within the age range of 0 – 49, who mostly cited convenience and quality of
vehicle as their top reasons. Despite
the anticipated increase in switching brands, there is a huge opportunity to
capture and maintain customer loyalty by offering real value and improving
relevance to customers in the moments that matter.
Perceived quality includes factors such as reliability, convenience, responsiveness, value for money, customization, facilities, safety, most of which were covered in our survey. Although affordability is the perceived major decision driver for customer loyalty, surprisingly, when customers were asked what is most important to them, affordability ranked third with 29.29%, while 43.43% of the respondents indicated that they are loyal to ride-hailing businesses because of the professionalism of their drivers.
Customer satisfaction is seen as a post-consumption evaluative judgment of a particular purchase experience or activity derived psychologically from comparing the initial expectation of the customers to their actual experience. Customer satisfaction is key to ride-hailing businesses as it triggers positive or negative feelings about the service provider and may eventually influence their patronage and perception of the company. To properly understand the satisfaction of ride-hailing users in Nigeria, we divided their experiences into: before the ride, during the ride, after the ride, and data privacy.
Before the Ride
With ride-hailing services, users can request a ride, view estimated fare, and most importantly have access to a more convenient means of commuting through a simple app interface. The app interface plays a key role in customer experience as it is the first interaction the customer has with the ride-hailing services. A seamless user interface and robust app concludes the deal for most customers. 22.22% of the respondents who use Uber rated their satisfaction with the app interface 4 stars, while 31.31% of Bolt customers rated their satisfaction with the app interface 4 stars.
With just a click and within a few minutes, customers can get a ride to take them to their desired location conveniently. Once a driver accepts a ride request, customers are provided with information about the driver and can track the driver’s location, and communicate with the driver if necessary. Ride-hailing services rely on advanced technologies that optimally assign a driver to a customer. These technologies take factors such as location, demand, and supply into consideration.
Undoubtedly, the promptness of drivers fosters positive experiences for ride-hailing customers and is one of the key decision drivers. The chart below shows how respondents rated their satisfaction with the promptness of drivers.
During the Ride
With several drivers available, customers have varying experiences from driver to driver and they can rate the drivers after their ride is completed with just a click of a button. After ordering a ride, customers are given details of the vehicle coming to pick them up such as color, model, and brand of the car. However, it is only when the driver has arrived and the trip has started that they can truly determine the quality of the vehicle and the mannerism of the driver. Based on our survey, only 10% of riders were absolutely satisfied (5 stars) with the mannerism of both Uber and Bolt drivers. Concerning the quality of the vehicle, less than 10% of riders were satisfied (5 stars) with the quality of vehicles used by these ride-hailing companies.
After the Ride
After the ride is completed, the post-ride services available to the ride-hailing users are customer service reports and inquiries. For service providers including the ride-hailing industry, the relationship between customer service and customer satisfaction is quite vital and has become a key element of the business strategy. Concerning these ride-hailing companies, post-ride customer service includes promptness in responding to complaints or inquiries made by riders, informing riders of the offers and promotions available, refund of money wrongfully debited, etc. Most respondents gave both companies average ratings (3 stars).
In today’s business world, the privacy of data is a big deal for consumers as people worry about the possibility of a breach of trust. Although the respondents may be satisfied with other aspects of their ride-hailing experience, very few were satisfied and comfortable with these service providers having their data. There is a great level of discomfort and worry regarding the safety and protection of their data. 8% and 6% of the respondents were absolutely comfortable (5 stars) with Uber and Bolt having their data, respectively.
This happens through targeted efforts and naturally occurring instances where users share their satisfaction with a brand and recommend the brand to others. It is a key component for a company’s long-term viability or sustainability because satisfied customers are more likely to make recommendations that will attract prospects and impact profitability. With ride-hailing companies (and other service providers whose offerings are largely intangible and experience or credence based), customers rely heavily on the advice and suggestions from others who have experienced the service because people often trust each other more than they trust communication from such service providers. When respondents were asked if they would recommend Uber or Bolt to other people, less than 10% said they would most likely recommend the ride-hailing service providers.
Experiences are all about human interactions and a pleasurable customer experience is addictive. It is important to develop and implement customer-oriented service strategies to identify customer needs and expectations and serve them better. Ride-hailing businesses should measure service quality regularly to ensure they keep meeting and surpassing customer expectations. They should also consider customizing their products and services to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty which would thereby lead to the customers voluntarily engaging in word-of-mouth marketing – a strong influencer of and brand equity.
As the sector
continues to grow, ride-hailing businesses should have customer experience at
the forefront of their strategies. It is critical to meet changing customer
expectations by delivering value to customers, developing a clear understanding
of customer needs and expectations, and becoming more transparent about data
 (IBM, 2017)
 (TechNext, 2020)
 ( Accenture, 2019)
 (Jalloh, 2019)
 (Ng, 2011)
 (Aubagna, 2020)