How Urban Company CEO, Abhiraj Bhal prioritizes customer experience
This article talks about how Urban Company CEO Abhiraj Bhal prioritizes Urban Company’s (formerly known as UrbanClap) customer experience.
In a hypercompetitive market, particularly for digital entities, ensuring higher customer satisfaction is easier said than done. But like Napoleon Bonaparte, Abhiraj Bhal, Urban Company CEO & other Co-founders believed that nothing is impossible, howsoever daunting a task seems.
As a company in the home services segment, it takes just one unhappy customer to make things difficult in satisfying other customers. Considering this scenario, Abhiraj Bhal believes that a proactive approach can help resolve even the toughest challenges. Among other elements, proactivity extends to reaching out to customers who may not have used Urban Company’s (erstwhile UrbanClap) app-based services in a while.
Here are the unique customer experience-oriented initiatives taken by Urban Company CEO & Co-founders
Protocols and Proactivity:
Through one such communiqué, a customer was informed that while he was away, Urban Company (UrbanClap) was working hard behind the scenes in enhancing his experience via version 2.0 of its app. As a result, users could check the background of their professionals, read reviews, view videos, and then place requirements for a specific service.
Besides, two levels of background verifications, before approval of a professional have made the latter more reliable. Not surprisingly, Urban Company’s service delivery rate stands at 95%. What’s more, customers can directly contact the UrbanClap CEO Abhiraj Bhal on his email ID. The customer was also informed that some of the highly-rated services were yoga at home, a salon at home, interior designers, fitness trainers, and dance.
On other occasions, customers were made aware that UC has served more than 5 million homes since the lockdowns were lifted. In doing so, no stone was left unturned when it came to safety and hygiene. The initiatives included free PPE kits, daily temperature checks, safety training, health insurance, and sick leave for all professional service partners.
Moreover, the company’s SOPs required professionals to change their masks and gloves with each service. To augment security levels, UC’s facial recognition technology was repurposed to ascertain compliance at all times. Taking customer and partner safety concerns to another level, the company also introduced a first-of-its-kind paid leave program. This was meant to ensure that partners did not fear any loss in earnings when reporting symptoms.
Testing, hospitalization, and service claims were also managed for the service partners. Apart from free health insurance, Urban Company led by Abhiraj Bhal, Varun Khaitan, and Raghav Chandra contributed to a relief fund. Consequently, even if partners fell ill, they were taken care of extremely well. Backed by these initiatives, in January 2021, Urban Company’s consumer NPS (Net Promoter Score) rose by 10 percentage points since the lockdowns. Business touched 140-150% of the pre-COVID peak while there were no complaints from amongst its five million customers served, with not a single one claiming that they even suspected contracting COVID due to any Urban Company service professional.
Of course, UC clarifies they are not yet done with their stringent safety protocols and will continue making investments in safety and hygiene throughout 2021 and even 2022 if needed. With an ongoing pandemic, the company realizes the battle is only half won.
Urban Company further launched a viral initiative called ‘#WearASmileCampaign’ which humanized face masks across India.
Masks kept everyone safe during the pandemic however they covered human emotions. All Urban Company’s service professionals wear a face mask with a smile. As a small step to retain humanity in all their service interactions with customers.
Commenting on the initiative, Tarun Menon, Director – Marketing, Urban Company said, “For our service professionals, masks hide their faces, making them unrecognizable; hiding the individuals behind the masks. Through the pandemic, we’ve heard stories from around the world that have reaffirmed our faith in the indomitable human spirit. Our intent with this small change to the masks our service professionals wear is to make the face mask in itself a little more human, with the smallest of reminders of that unbeatable human spirit – a smile.”
Brands such as OYO, Big basket, Ola Money & Pharmeasy extended their support to Urban Company’s unique initiative.
Besides Urban Company was one of the first organizations who changed the app’s icon and display pictures across social media to reflect their logo with a mask.
“It’s a very simple idea, but quite thoughtful. Wearing a mask with a smile adds warmth to our covered faces and will bring some happiness to the customers we are servicing. I’m sure all service professionals will participate in this initiative with equal enthusiasm, ensuring it becomes a resounding success,” said Pinky, Service Professional – Urban Company.
AI and Training:
In addition to health, hygiene, and safety concerns, Urban Company has highlighted its use of AI (artificial intelligence) in core systems for driving greater operational efficiencies. This is imperative when an entity is accountable to both users and service providers and, therefore, needs to embed empathy as part of the organizational template. UC uses an algorithm for pinpointing availability, another for predicting if any service professional is likely to take leave on a specific day, and a third for rating and quality assessment of professionals. These advantages of AI are allowing the home services start-up to automate parts of its operations while scaling up sustainably too.
Additionally, standardization remains the name of the game since the platform handles beauticians, electricians, plumbers, painters, and massage therapists, among a slew of other service professionals. Undoubtedly, designing a platform with multiple variables and stakeholders is no child’s play.
Abhiraj Bhal, CEO of Urban Company reveals that major investments go into training and skilling people to fill the services gap. Since top-quality talent is not easy to find, training is essential for promoting robust customer satisfaction. Considering the rising demand from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, Urban Company now aims to train a million professionals within five years.
Today, Abhiraj Bhal, Urban Company CEO notes that the platform fulfills between 25,000 and 30,000 services per day. Given that there are more than 20,000 professionals who earn 100% of their revenues from Urban Company, this seems like a satisfying scenario for service professionals as well as customers.
Prioritizing Internal Customers:
Internal customers or employees are often ignored while creating initiatives or strategies to serve customers better. They have a relationship with, and within, company, either through employment or as partners who deliver your product or service to the end-user, the external customer.
Abhiraj Bhal Urban Company CEO & his Co-founders Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan-led Urban Company are often in the news with regards to their unique and thoughtful employee-oriented policies, processes & initiatives.
Urban Company was recently in the news after introducing an unlimited mental health leave policy on Mental health day which allowed all employees to take unlimited sick leaves in case they’re suffering from any kind of mental or physical illnesses. UC further engaged with a mental health platform to make the top psychologists of the country accessible to their employees.
Urban Company in August of 2020 announced its third and largest ESOP sale of 5 million$. Under this ESOP program, 180 employees were made eligible to liquidate their vested ESOPs which were then purchased via a secondary transaction by an Urban Company investor VY capital.
“This is our third and largest ESOP sale event and re-affirms our commitment towards creating a world-class ESOP program,” Urban Company CEO, & Co-founder & Abhiraj Bhal said.
According to Abhiraj Bhal, about 450 employees or 40 percent of the company’s full-time staff have ESOPs – from customer service representatives to its senior vice presidents.