Ride-hailing companies can improve service during outbreak

By Zhang Dandan | China Daily
Updated: March 23, 2020
A staff member disinfects a vehicle at a Beijing service center of car-hailing service Didi Chuxing, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus. [Photo/Agencies]

The novel coronavirus outbreak has inflicted heavy losses on the car-hailing industry, but it is a window of opportunity for players to sharpen their business practices, according to JD Power.

The global market research company shared the results of a report on ride-hailing service quality on Thursday.

"The epidemic is a big test for the (online ride-hailing) industry, which plummets the travel demand and piles heavy operating pressure upon car-hailing runners," said Pei Lin, head of automotive digital product experience with JD Power China.

"However, it is also where opportunities dwell."

Industry players can use this "window period" to reinforce brand-building, increase investment in advanced technologies and improve their service, Pei added.

The results released by JD Power on the quality of car-hailing services show that the overall situation is less than desirable.

According to the research company, customer satisfaction in China's ride-hailing industry is far from ideal, however many of the complaints could be resolved by the implementation of just a few simple measures, others not so simple. The complaints center on issues of car-hailing efficiency, vehicle condition and driver service.

The top complaints collected by JD Power include drivers that take orders from far away, long waiting times for orders received, unreasonable navigation routes, unreliable estimated time of arrival at the destination and unsafe driving habits of drivers.

Forty-eight percent of ride-hailing users get their requests picked up in five to 10 minutes, while 36 percent of orders take more than 10 minutes to find a car. For 16 percent of users it takes one to five minutes to have their orders picked up.

Moreover, results unveiled by JD Power show 53 percent of passengers must wait for five to 10 minutes for their drivers, once the drivers have picked up their requests. Only 1 percent are picked up within a minute.

The ride-hailing platforms have a "golden" five-minute time frame to fulfill a ride, beyond which, Pei said, users may elect to cancel their rides.

Suggestions for online car-hailing operators included improving real-time traffic-status updates and the time-prediction algorithm, according to JD Power.

Frequent complaints about drivers, include unsafe driving habits and no assistance with passenger luggage, Pei said. He added that driver service is an important part of online car-hailing service, which directly communicates a brand's values to consumers.

A complete induction training mechanism for drivers should be established, Pei said.