Are you afraid of taxi drivers? What about their dirty cabs, the lack of clarity about the price, and their often lousy knowledge of the local roads and traffic? Why I ask?
Taxi driver as a profession
Being a taxi driver used to be a profession. In London for example, "taxi drivers go through stringent training to obtain their licence, they need to pass “The Knowledge”, a test which is amongst the hardest to pass in the world, it has been described as like having an atlas of London implanted into your brain. No two days are ever the same for London cabbies, they just never know who is going to be climbing into the back of their cabs. Taxi drivers meet people from all walks of life, the rich and famous, arguing couples and tourists who always have a question or two that they would like answering. Add this factor to the amount you can earn as a London taxi driver and it is a career many feel is well worth the effort."
No surprise, London is proud at their taxi drivers and tourists are happy with the service. Elsewhere, that is certainly not the case.
Uber and Lyft taking over
As you are well aware, Uber and Lyft are putting pressure on taxi drivers all over the world. Once powerful kartels, such as for example at Schiphol Airport, in the Netherlands, are finally threatened in their existence. Something that the Dutch government or the city of Amsterdam failed to address so far is now being tackled by Uber and Lyft with ease.
Taxi drivers protest, yet clients prefer the more reliable and cheaper service. The ability to order a ride on your phone from anywhere makes it difficult to challenge these alternative offerings.
No profession is sacred
Current technology platforms are trying to disrupt all professional services, from the banking to the legal industries. Venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and technology startups are trying to offer equivalent solutions, but than easier accessible, more reliable, and offered at lower costs.
Sounds familiar? Yes, that is exactly what happened to taxi drivers. They themselves could not envision that they once would - rather literally - be passed by a student or mom who are picking up a few free rides in their spare time.
Similar pressures are put on other professions. For example, Marc Cohen published for the Canadian bar an article about how the law is no longer just for lawyers.
Should you be afraid of the taxi driver paradigm?
Should you be afraid of the taxi driver paradigm? The answer to this question will depend on the status of your service offerings. You may be quick to think, oh then we are save. We don't offer the equivalent of smelly and expensive taxi rides.
However, your over the top office, decorated with exquisite art, may give the impression that you are too expensive. The wait and hassle to make an appointment may be plainly annoying. And the annual increase in fees, for exactly the same services, may be causing more annoyance and frustration than you ever expected.
What is the solution?
Take a critical look at your service offerings. Where is modernization possible? Walk in your clients shoes through the onboarding and service experience process. Experience all aspects of the services you offer yourself. What is there to simplify, improve, change?
If in doubt, ask your clients for their input.
Innovate to stay on top
Adjusting your own services requires more than quality control or continuous improvement. Taking that critical look, identify opportunities for leaps forward, and then acting upon those opportunities, that is what innovation is about.
With the capabilities to innovate, you will be able to stay on top of your game, as professional and as organization. For those professions that stay on top, incorporate novel technologies that benefit their clients, are on the outlook for how to make their services more affordable and better form a client perspective, for you, the taxi paradigm is nothing to be afraid of.