Vodafone keeps drivers and dispatchers in contact via the cloud
VIP Taxis has been part of the Dublin landscape for more than 40 years, building a reputation for prompt, reliable service and friendly courteous drivers. But that hard-earned reputation was under threat when two-way radio communication between dispatchers and drivers, vital in the process of locating and sending taxis to customers, began to fail on a regular basis.
Loss of connectivity, loss of business
Taking a ride in a VIP Taxi is as much a part of a visit to Dublin as a pint of the finest Guinness and a stroll along O’Connell Street. From its early days as part of the co-operative movement, transporting customers by horse and carriage, more than 500 VIP Taxis now keep the city moving, taking visitors to and from the airport and the ferry terminal at Dun Laoghaire and around the sights and sounds of one of Europe’s most popular city break destinations. VIP Taxis is equally popular with the local and business communities in Dublin too, with a hard-earned reputation for reliability, safety and courtesy.
As the company now goes from strength to strength, its owners point to the resolution of a major operational problem as a landmark in its recent history. “We had built a successful business but that success depended on having secure and reliable communications between our drivers and our dispatch teams,” recalls company Director, Tony Holland. “It’s essential that we know where our vehicles are and that we can quickly direct the right vehicle to the right customer, especially for short notice, time sensitive jobs, for example to catch a flight or get to an important business meeting on time.
“But our communications infrastructure was creaking. We were still using traditional two-way radios and we were losing network connection on a regular basis. This meant that we often didn’t know where some of our fleet was located and therefore didn’t know which driver was best placed to get to a customer. It was expensive too with monthly payments for leased lines, servers, ISDN and maintenance.” Mark Callaghan, company Director, continues; “Quite apart from our own operational headaches, we knew that the regular loss of connectivity was resulting in loss of business – for us and our drivers – and was having a severe impact on our reputation. We knew this couldn’t continue because our business stands or falls on the quality and reliability of our service - and if our network keeps going down we just can’t operate.”
Connectivity is king
Taking the decision to leave behind outdated, unreliable technology opened up a vista of opportunity for VIP Taxis, to solve its immediate, business-critical problem – and, at the same time, enjoy a series of additional business benefits and cost efficiencies. For VIP Taxis the solution was Vodafone’s world class network connectivity which gave the business the confidence to adopt the iCabbi dispatch system application throughout its fleet. The Vodafone powered iCabbi mobile app combines the latest and best mobile and cloud-based technologies for the benefit of taxi businesses and their customers. VIP Taxis’ unreliable and costly hardware has been replaced by a web-based, secure, streamlined and agile system in which drivers receive their instructions and communicate with base using smart phones with a simple-to-operate, feature rich interface.
The system has revolutionised the way VIP Taxis runs its business. Dispatch system managers now have a 24/7 view of all of their drivers’ geographical locations, even if they have stepped out of their cars, enabling them to send the closest and most appropriate vehicle to each and every customer, with route selection guided by live traffic information. If necessary they can view and operate the entire dispatch system from a laptop computer, from head office, at home or on the move. Obsolete computer hardware has been removed from its head office – saving substantial energy and running costs in the process.
Corporate customers can use a fully automated account booking process, booking taxis online and signing for them using a signature capture function on the driver’s app. All details, including the signature, can feature on a single, itemised invoice which can be emailed out, removing the need for receipts and time consuming, labour-intensive administration and record keeping for customers and VIP Taxis alike.
Customers, drivers and VIP Taxis are all enjoying the benefits of a system that, supported by Vodafone connectivity, is delivering a fast, reliable and consistent dispatch service. Vehicles are arriving on time for customers, with drivers now able to concentrate on providing a friendly service.
Moving to mobile and the cloud has produced substantial savings for VIP Taxis, according to company Director, Liz Callaghan: “We estimate that by making these changes we have reduced our total operating costs by between 8 and 12%. Now that scale of savings and efficiencies is hugely significant for any business, so this is an outstanding result for us. “And equally importantly, the service we are offering is so much more reliable and professional for our customers. The system enables us to provide a range of new services and operate our own business processes much more effectively. Adding vehicles and drivers to the fleet is much easier and cost effective too without the need to install expensive radio equipment.”
Tony concludes; “As good as our new dispatch system is, it’s only as good as the network it operates on. The Vodafone network is superb. We have had no downtime at all since we moved to Vodafone, which gives us great confidence to get on and concentrate on running our business and providing great service to customers, rather than constantly worrying about our technology.”
Gartner has positioned Vodafone as a "Leader" in its Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide report 2017, for the fourth consecutive year