Responsibility creates a competitive advantage on the taxi market

Cabonline Finland Oy CEO Teemu Romppanen believes that societal responsibility will be an even bigger competitive advantage for businesses in the future. Taking care of music licenses is one way of showing that such responsibility is accepted.

– It is not good enough to be OK, because the perfect customer experience requires going the extra mile, and the driver must also put their personality on the line to guarantee personal service.

His voice makes it apparent that Cabonline Finland Oy CEO Teemu Romppanen is not speaking about the customer experience for the first time.

Romppanen has been the CEO of Cabonline Finland for about two years now. He has been working at various taxi business tasks basically ever since the legislation governing the industry was overhauled in 2018.

Cabonline brands in Finland are Kovanen and FixuTaxi.

After the 2018 amendments, there has been plenty of talk about the way the taxi business is going. Romppanen admits that the changes have created challenges too, but he sees a lot good in the loosened regulations.

– For example, it was not possible previously for the consumer to order a fixed-price ride, so the consumer could never know what the final price of the ride would be. Now the customer can find out in advance how much their trip will cost by using for instance a taxi service application.

Taxi customers additionally have many more opportunities to vote with their feet.

– If you look at customer order placement opportunities for example, the present-day customer has many more choices available.

The increasing freedom of choice means that the customer experience needs to be accounted for much better than before. Being just OK is not good enough anymore.

– What to do when an order is placed, when to notify the customer of arrival, how to dress, should doors be opened for the customer or bags carried, what music to play, what kind of lighting to choose. The concept has been carefully thought out from the point onward when the customer is received, Romppanen says.

What if customers only paid for part of their taxi ride?

Romppanen will not bargain when it comes to the customer experience, but taking care of legal obligations is even more important. These include music licences, which ultimately need to be taken care of by each taxi entrepreneur alone.

When music is played in a taxi on the radio or otherwise, a music licence is needed.

Romppanen believes that not getting the proper music licenses is usually due to lack of awareness rather than conscious decision. Listening to music in a taxi may not always be thought of as public use of music, although it is.

Romppanen compares having a valid music license to the customer paying for their trip.

– Not paying for music is a little like a taxi driver picking up a customer and then not receiving payment for the whole trip from the customer. Taxi drivers are paid for the full trip, and similarly a music licence comprises a part of the income of music makers.

– I started looking into the legislation governing music licences when I saw the music licence invoice for the first time after starting this job. Veterans of the industry did inform me that yes, taxis need to take care of such things.

Just like any other factors impacting the customer experience, the use of music in Kovanen and FixuTaxi cabs is carefully considered. The ultimate decision if music is played, and what style of music if any, is ultimately for the customer to make.

– We can start with playing relaxing music. The customer should however always be asked if music should be played or not. This is where the driver needs to be able to interpret even silent signals: the most important thing is to respect the customer’s preferences.

– Acting on feeling plays a big role here. When it comes to Kovanen cars, you can think about how it feels to sit in a black Mercedes illuminated with LED lighting. The music should fit the first impression that is being created. Classical music for example works well here.

According to Romppanen, they receive plenty of positive feedback about their music.

– Young party people especially who use FixuTaxi cabs seem to think that the drivers and music are super good.

The customer experience and societal responsibility are not just theoretical terms for Romppanen, but competitive factors that can be seen on the grassroots level and that affect sales directly. Romppanen’s Master’s Thesis at the university was about how societal responsibility affects the sales figures of businesses.

– Cabonline wants to be the most responsible taxi industry operator in all Nordic Countries. The significance of societal responsibility is becoming more and more important in the world of business as well as in consumer choices.

Besides, Cabonline services are used by many artists as well.

– When even artists use our services, we need to be sure that they get the compensation they deserve for the music being played in our taxis.

Speaking of artists, it is of course necessary to ask what the CEO himself listens to on his free time.

– I listen to the radio for at least an hour a day during my commute. Music is of course also a part of working out and spending free time with friends. Let’s say that Spotify’s Top 50 Finland list is pretty well known to me.

– I especially like the music of Gettomasa, since I work with Mercedes cars myself, Romppanen laughs.

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