Lessons Learned from BlueBird vs Startups (Uber, Go-Jek, Grab)

Adapt or die.


Yesterday was filled with heart breaking news. And what caught my attention most were stories of the street passersby and amateur journalists showing horrible videos and photos of BlueBird drivers targeting on GoJek driver (Indonesia’s ride-sharing darling), stopping other public transportations, and organizing a take down on the capital. It was something unimaginable and unacceptable done by drivers of a company that has a positive reputation throughout these years.

Amateur Videos of March 22nd, 2016 BlueBird vs GoJek/Uber/Grab Riot (Warning: Violence Ahead)

Prior to the riot, BlueBird has been making moves to tackle down Uber and Grab by filing a report to the government. Which ended making Uber and Grab hustle to get legal license of operating in Indonesia. Still it didn’t stop BlueBird from losing profits. Instead, it backfired as they’ve created fully legal competitions to operate in Indonesia thus making them losing more share of the pie.

And yesterday it finally came down to the demonstration and violence by the drivers that now made them not only losing profits, but also hurt their own brand; losing people’s trust and loyalty. Something that they’ve built really hard over the years.

Taxi Protest Causes Traffic Chaos in Indonesian Capital

Taxi Protest Turns Violence as Drivers target other Drivers

In business, competitors are dangerous. But what’s more dangerous is when you didn’t realize that you don’t grow and stuck in comfort zone. This is a true story of a week before the riot, BlueBird launched an Instagram sponsored content. So many complaints filled the comment section for the company as customers claimed it’s hard to book a cab, drivers often refuse customer for close-range distance, and way too often, drivers take the longest route driving customers to their destination so they can get more pay. So instead of launching a successful campaign, it turned ugly as satisfied customers of the ride-sharing startups started comparing the experience. Result is, BlueBird didn’t stand a chance against the ride-sharing services.

BlueBird did offer customer to file a complaint to their hotline center whenever things go wrong and I tried it once (years ago) with a disappointing end. I filed a report of one license plat of their cab hit my rear view mirror. They did take note and promised to call. They never did. And I’m quite sure I’m not alone seeing the massive amount of complaints in their Instagram sponsored content.

It would be unfair to say that I didn’t have great time with BlueBird, they were a joy when I got a nice and honest driver but I also had drivers refuse my route and never showed up on my bookings. At one point I missed a flight as I wait for it. So for me, using BlueBird is like buying a cat in a sack. And they seem to never bother fixing these issues, instead focusing on tackling down their competitors.

So when Uber and Grab finally set foot in Indonesia, it’s about time to turn the table as they rely heavily on customer satisfaction. Drivers are thriving to provide excellent service. If I were to ride on a crazy driver on Uber or Grab, it doesn’t take much for me to file a report just to hear nothing. I just have to give them 1 rating that will affect their performance to get more bookings in the future. I get what I pay and drivers get what they provide to customers. Fair and square.

So these are lessons I learned from BlueBird vs Startups Tech riot yesterday:

1. It takes years to build a trust and only seconds to destroy it. Every day you’re walking in the thin line to upkeep your reputation and credibility.

2. It’s worth the time in investing to educate your employee and customers, in this case: the startups (Uber, GoJek, Grab, Airbnb, etc). They will back you up when things go wrong. Don’t go fooling around your customer obviously then denying it’s your responsibility.

BlueBird Denies Mobilizing Drivers for The Demonstration (in Bahasa Indonesia)

3. It’s no longer the 90’s era, when building a company needs an influential backup, bribery, nepotism, and corruptions. It’s now the 21st century, and your most influential backup is your customer. Bribe them with goodwill and values 😁

4. An apology is not free rides. An apology is where you come clean and sincerely sorry for what you did (and not blame it to your drivers).

The Demonstration Was the Drivers Illegal Activity (in Bahasa Indonesia)

5. Extreme promotion after the storm is useless. You can’t bribe customer’s emotion with free stuffs. They’ll take it, but still leave you.

BlueBird After Riot: We Will Give Free Ride For a Day

6. Adapt or die. Even though you’re a major player in the industry, nothing guarantees you stay in the game tomorrow if you don’t keep up with something new.

7. Comfort zone is actually a dead zone. Don’t get trapped. Hustle everyday.

8. Keep your cool yet stay alert when competition starts playing dirty. Stay firm on your standing. Focus on your priorities; your customer and building a good company.

GoJek CEO Calms Drivers and Passengers to Avoid Provocation (in Bahasa Indonesia)

9. Advertising is dying. Review system is on the rise. Focus on building loyalty from your customer. It takes time but gives lasting impact.

10. I am sorry are probably the hardest words to be said. Say it not to be defeated, but to show customer, “You’re worth it.”


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