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What retailer’s name would you insert?  Mine would be “Chicago Cabbie.”   Yes, my #1 customer experience in 2011 is from my taxi driver, who has taken the notion of a retail “storefront” beyond the next level.

 

Social notworking one day, I noticed postings by @ChicagoCabbie on a Twitter feed for Chicago events and activities.  Intrigued, and needing a ride to O’Hare the next day for a business trip, I checked out @ChicagoCabbie’s profile on Twitter:

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Whoa!  Did I actually find a technology savvy taxi driver?  A technology savvy taxi driver using Twitter to engage with customers and prospects, who has his own website: www.mychicagocabbie.com!  I was stunned: most Chicago taxi drivers are still trying to figure out how to take credit cards (and telling customers the credit card machines “don’t work.”)

 

Game on, @ChicagoCabbie.  Envisioning the same customer experience I had with United Airlines via twitter (non-existent, as they still haven’t answered a question from two years ago), let’s see how long it takes to get a response.

 

Literally, within seconds. I was truly stunned.  @ChicagoCabbie gave me his mobile number so I could text my name, phone, and transportation request privately, one-to-one.  Smart.  In a short period of time, I had three touchpoints for this taxidriver:  Twitter, his website, and his phone for text.  More importantly, he had the three same for me, and was building his marketing list.

 

We made our plans.  @ChicagoCabbie would pick me up at home tomorrow at 4AM and deliver me to O’Hare for a 6AM flight . . . getting ready the next morning,  I was metaphorically kicking myself for not having a Plan B to get to the airport.  Just as I start to panic, I received a text.  “Good morning, Andrea.  I’m on my way, and I will be there in 15 minutes.  Please take your time.  See you soon. J” 

 

I couldn’t wait to get in that taxi and meet the driver.  Questions about this novel business model were racing through my brain.

 

I could not have met a nicer person than Rachid, who considers it his mission to change the passenger experience in a taxicab.  Although he works for Flash Taxi Company, Rachid behaves like a start-up entrepreneur, and considers this service “his own business.”  He thinks of the taxi as a “retail store on wheels” and is determined to enhance the customer experience through personalized interactions via SMS or twitter.  His cab is a spotless, smell-free comfortable hybrid with free WiFi.  He utilizes the latest technology, such as Square with his iPad to accept credit card payment, and emails receipts to customers (the forth customer touchpoint for interaction). 

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And my favorite part of the ride:  “good healthy conversation or comfortable silence to your destination.”

 

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Rachid is doing an incredible job of marketing one-to-one using all forms of social media.  He believes that his unique business model is a competitive differentiator over other drivers; they risk extinction for not keeping up with new technologies. 

 

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But my burning question:   It’s all cool, but is it working?  Has revenue increased?

 

Rachid collects and analyzes data by day/month using Excel macros.  In addition to his daily sales, KPI’s include new vs. repeat vs. rejected customers and preferred method of communication by repeat customers. 

 

Sound familiar, retailers?  Daily Sales Report.  Comp Store Sales.  Customer Retention Statistics.  Bravo, Rachid, you are thinking and responding like a best in class retailer.

 

Here’s what I learned on my first day in the taxi: 

  • Revenue has increased since using social media
  • 30% – 40% of revenue is coming from social media interactions
  • 80% of customers are repeat customers
  • 100% of repeat customers use social media, e-mail or mobile to book
  • 20% of customers are one time customers that ride with @ChicagoCabbie for the cool factor of tweeting for a cab.
  • Since Rachid’s customer profile has changed so dramatically, he can “predict” his daily revenue from repeat customers and does not need to search the streets for business, providing for a less stress filled day.

         

Following Rachid on Twitter and Foursquare and watching his creativity is a joy.  He is purveyor of all things traffic related in Chicago, including closures of major expressways and problems with Chicago Transit Authority’s buses and trains.  He takes pictures of Chicago events and posts them to Twitter, Foursquare and his website.  He posts the music playing in the taxi.  When business is slow, promos and discounts are posted on Twitter and Foursquare.

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Are there customer success stories and testimonials?  Of course!  And the retailer in Rachid knows how smart it is to share, by posting them in a scrolling twitter feed on his website:

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He’s even getting #FF (Follow Friday) mentions on twitter!

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And, finally, @ChicagoCabbie has caught the attention of the Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection at the City of Chicago, Rosemary Krimbel.  

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With his penchant for information sharing, his love of technology, his desire to promote Chicago as a transportation friendly city, and his willingness to help facilitate change, Rachid is a retailer who understands customer service, and is someone to watch.  He is a true retail success story. 

 

Of all the stats Rachid has shared, here’s my favorite:  “I’m loving this 100%.”  Me, too, @ChicagoCabbie, me too!

 

Visiting Chicago?  Contact @ChicagoCabbie for the ride, and tell him Andrea France sent you! 

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5 Comments

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  1. Mohamed Amer
    Andrea,

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story that “integrates” the store front (cab) with the digital and social networks!  Embracing a customer-centric attitude and existing technology helped Rachid deliver a differentiated (and exceptional) customer experience! 

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  2. Tanya Duncan
    It’s so important to recognize businesses that get the customer experience right because there are far too many that don’t!

    One idea for Chicago Cabbie to become even more connected to customers, allowing his customer to see where he is using something like ‘Find my Friends’ or Google Latitude. It’d be interesting if there was an app that allowed this same functionality but only for the customer that was waiting for him to arrive (it might not be safe for anyone to be able to locate him at all times). It can be so difficult to give people driving directions and it would give a more accurate arrival time. Plus his wifi would give a more accurate location of his vehicle!

    Wouldn’t it be great if he could listen and reply to customer tweets through Siri (or another voice activated system) while driving? Using that same functionality, it’d be ideal if he could text or call customers that send their number through Twitter private messages.

    Great story, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Andrea France Post author
      Tanya, it’s true that great minds think alike!  Rachid uses Google Latitude and posts his location consistently throughout the day. My bad for not including in this blog.  He is planning on using Siri very soon.  Thanks for commenting.
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  3. Kumud Singh
    Hello,
    This is a lovely example of using social media uniquely. Few people resist from using them as they do not want to learn. So do you have any idea of what the cab driver was doing before running this transportation business or likewise?

    Regards,
    Kumud

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