How IoT boosts customer satisfaction in transport sector

ONYEKORMAKA ASABOR writes on the contribution of Internet of Things to customer satisfaction in the transportation sector of Nigeria’s economy 

Networks between devices are rapidly expanding, and such networks are referred to as Internet of Things. Humanity is, by each passing day, seeing technology in the form of sensors embedded in more and more everyday things like automobiles to ensure that meeting customers’ needs is technology-driven. This makes devices capable of sensing and remotely communicating with each other, with users or a central system, solely for transportation purpose.

The advent of ride-hailing apps has revolutionised how city dwellers get around town in Nigeria. At the moment, there are some car-hailing apps that have really proved their fidelity in the market and are recommended for anyone who wish to travel in style and save money.

Given the influence of technological advances on Nigeria’s transport landscape, not few Nigerians in the upper and middle class would deny enjoying the comfort, speed and convenience in commuting from one part of a city or town to another through ride-hailing. The reason for the advancements and innovations that characterised the transport sector is not far-fetched, as most the middle and upper class Nigerians that once relied on painted commercial buses have found options in several companies that render ride-hailing services. 



This is when a commuter “hails” or hires a personal driver, online usually through a smartphone application, to take them exactly where they need to go. In essence, it is similar to a taxi service. But the difference is that the customer orders the ride from a ride-hailing platform; a third party between the driver and the passenger. Most times, the payment is made online.

In Nigerian cities such as Lagos, beside Bolt and Uber, there are several ride-hailing companies that offer convenient rides and serve as alternatives to the less-than-efficient public transport system.  They include across In-Driver, Rida Nigeria, Max, SafeBoda and Shuttlers.  Others are Soole Rides, Gaabia, Hytch Africa, Smooth-Ride and Lagos Ride.


How ride-hailing works

The customer orders a car through an app. The app sends their location and request to a nearby driver, who can decide if they want to accept the ride. If they accept the ride, the customer can see the car in their app as it rides towards them and the time it will take for the car to arrive. They also see information about the ride, such as a number plate and name of the driver.

In fact, ride-hailing operators are handy, and are always available on Google Android, Apple iOS, and web apps. A given app connects riders with nearby screened drivers, who provide rides in their private vehicles. Passengers pay competitive prices for the service, which is cheaper than taxis in many places.


Customer experiences

George Uzoka, a regular ride-hailing user, said, “It is very convenient to patronise ride-hailers because instead of struggling for taxis or buses on the streets or at the bus stops, or calling and waiting for a car service, at the comfort of your home or office with a smartphone, a car ride can be ordered from any location and have it in minutes. With the apps, any of the operators do not even need to ask for your address. They know where you are.

Because the passenger’s credit card is linked to the e-hail account, no cash changes hands. At the destination, the driver stops the car and the passenger gets out and walks away. A receipt is sent through email, with links to options for rating and tipping of the driver.

Financial Street gathered that the app includes a Split Fare feature that allows a passenger to divide a trip fare equally between his account and that of other riders. To use the feature, request a ride; before or during the ride, swipe up from the bottom of the app; tap your selected payment method; tap Split Fare; enter the names or phone numbers of other riders. It is done, as fellow riders are immediately sent a notification request to accept the split fare.

For the fare to be split, other riders must accept before the trip ends. Your trip fare will be divided equally between yourself and all other riders who accept. If a fellow rider chooses not to accept split fare or doesn’t have a valid payment method, you’ll be charged for both your portion and theirs. The split fare feature is unavailable for certain vehicle options, including Uberpool.


Safety of passengers

In terms of safety, CEO of Univasa Limited, Dr Ben Adeniyi, disclosed at a media parley, in May, that his company deals with an Internet-driven facility that allows ride-hailers and those of Lagos yellow taxis to verify the details of a driver, the vehicle and the owner before paying for a ride.

According to him, the ‘verify and pay’ barcode pasted on ride hailing vehicle or the ubiquitous yellow taxis in Lagos is a technology operated by the company and connected to a central data system for passengers to utilise for verification purposes.

On what led to the creation of Univasa, the online app for paying transport fares, and what he wants to improve on in the online commuting payment system, he said, “Over the years, we noticed that the e-hailing industry is quite saturated, where drivers, the sole providers, are tossed around by app owners with no concern for their welfare or concerns. So, we decided to provide a platform for driver-partners to feel respected, their views aired and their welfare accounted for with our various schemes such as insurance and car loans.

“Our major mission as an organisation is to be an enabler for service providers and customers by developing digital solutions to fulfil their every need. We also hope to be fully operational in at least 10 major cities in Nigeria by the end of 2023 with at least a quarter of the market share in trips. We have launched in cities like Ibadan, Ilorin, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Edo, Lagos and Abuja. Safe to say that we are getting there.”



It can also be recalled that the IoT came to the rescue in 2019 when the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, in conjunction with its partners, launched digital Passenger Manifest Scheme.

Four years ago when PAMS was launched, local transport operators rated the technology and healthcare initiative as the first of its kind in Africa. It was upgraded from manual to a fully digital system. The scheme provides Internet-enabled mobile manifest capture devices at the major NURTW motor parks for easy operations. 

The consultants said, “Drivers are expected to send PAMS Serial Number of their Manifest and the Number Plate as a text message to a dedicated Unstructured Supplementary Service Data code before leaving the motor parks.

Samuel Olufela, a transporter, added, “Never in the history of Nigeria’s transport sector has passengers found much added values in services rendered by transporters than now. As Information and Communications Technology continues to evolve or rather advance, more of the added values will come.” 

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