“Talking about customer focus is easy. But what are you going to do?”

Customer-centricity. It often turns out to be a lot easier said than done. Professional speaker and ‘customer listener’ Frans Reichardt unravels the secrets for us on the way to a satisfied customer. He is pleased with the service provided by the taxi world. “Something really happened there.”

Last year, Frans Reichardt gave a two-day workshop for TX Keur and the Social Fund for Mobility. This gave the marketing expert valuable insight into the world of taxi services. “I felt like a fish in water with these people from practice. Nice people, no-nonsense, and honest. Because to put it bluntly, when it comes to customer focus, I think there is too much talk. Often in those container terms: ‘We are going to offer our customers more quality.’ ‘Everything for the customer.’ My question is always: What behavior is part of that? As an entrepreneur, what will you do differently tomorrow? And what will I, as a customer, see, hear, or feel?”

What do customers really care about?

“My single most important piece of advice: ask them. I mainly help companies learn to listen to their customers. Ask about their experiences and their suggestions. It is interesting for taxi companies to conduct structural research into this. To set up processes that allow for collecting customer feedback at the trip level. Then you know how satisfied they are.

“You end up seeing fixed patterns in the research into customer relationships. Customers value a service that is compliant with what was agreed upon. In taxi terms, this means: arriving on time and handing over a correct invoice. And if you already know that you will be late, let the customer know. Good communication is an essential part of being customer-oriented.

“Also, look at what new parties on the market are doing well. Why does that work? If you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you soon discover why such a concept has value. And then you have to ask yourself: how can I offer my customers something similar?”

What does the ideal taxi driver look like?

“A taxi driver must have the gift of estimating whether a customer needs a conversation or not. Being able to feel that out is a valuable quality. Friendliness is also highly appreciated. And be helpful. It is considered polite and kind when you step out to help with luggage. Just checking to see if anyone left anything behind. Such a taxi driver scores points on hospitality.

“With some taxi drivers, I feel that I take the lead in the contact. I think that as a driver, you should take the lead. Be proactive. Do something before the customer asks. For the customer, it can be annoying to ask a driver for help. And my final piece of advice: deploy your strongest weapon. And that’s your smile. It is disarming. It is defined in our reptilian brain: if someone smiles at us, we feel safe.”

How about the level of customer focus in the taxi world?

“Customer expectations, in general, have increased significantly. You have to do more to keep a customer than you had to 30 years ago. The basics are simple. Happy customers stay longer, spend more, and recommend you to others. But in practice, making customer contact and experiences smoother is very complex. There are many processes and technology involved. Actually, converting that ambition into action and getting everyone within a company on board—now that’s where everything stands or falls. The step towards behavioral change among employees is crucial. Because they have to ensure that the customer experiences something different from what they experience with others.

“I see a significant difference between the taxi services of now and 20 years ago. Much of what I say here, I already see happening. It is good to know what can be improved, but it is also good to know what is already good. Something has really happened in the taxi world.”

This article was published in June 2023 on the website of TX-Keur, quality mark in passenger transport.

Frans Reichardt | The Customer Listener

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