Case Study 2: Prevent Trip Start Delays, and Ratings Will Soar
Expresso (intercity division of Shuttl) is a private bus operator offering inter-city transport across North India. Most of Expresso’s customers book their trips through online travel agents such as RedBus, where they are able to choose from a list of operators for their specific route. Because there are multiple operators vying for the same customers, ‘customer rating’ is the most important factor: the highest-rated operators will have the highest likelihood of getting booked.
Expresso approached Intangles when it became clear that they required more detailed data and analysis to make sure their ratings stayed consistently high. “In this industry, bus operators like us rely on ratings to keep customers coming back. We have found that one of the biggest determinant of bad ratings is if a bus doesn’t start on time,” said Shailendra Barshikar, National Head of Operations at Expresso. “We found an interesting pattern: customers understand if the bus gets delayed en route due to traffic and other issues and at times also accommodate minor issues with AC or seat comfort, but it is ‘on-time trip start’ that is most important. If you don’t start on-time, you are sure of a poor rating.”
Mandate for Trip Delay Alerts
Expresso wanted a way to make sure that they received early and advanced alerts when one of their buses was going to be late in reaching the pick-up point, so as to be able to prevent start time delays to the greatest extent possible. Given that parking lots are typically located far away from pick-up points, Expresso bus operators have to ensure that the buses leave the parking lots in time to be able to reach the starting points at least 15 minutes before scheduled departure. If the vehicle is running late for reasons including, but not limited to traffic snarls, breakdown or delay due to pre-departure formalities, it is important for Expresso’s operators to be alerted of the impending delay.
Before using Intangles, the Expresso team had to carry out the arduous task of manually tracking schedules and vehicle location by calling the bus drivers and finding out their status or by deploying some field force in the parking lots. When the live incidents dashboard was introduced as a solution, it clicked immediately. With its real time updates, the dashboard was able to send the following alerts to the Expresso team:
- Parking not left for trip – Delay in departure from parking lot
- Vehicle maybe late for trip – Vehicles that are delayed in transit between parking lot and pick-up point
- Trip not started – Vehicle did not leave the departure point at the scheduled time
“We have empowered the Expresso team by providing them with a platform to upload information about their daily schedules, including information on routes and specific vehicles. The system starts keeping track of the trip start time and the vehicle that is supposed to be on that particular trip,” said Neil Unadkat, CTO at Intangles, explaining the mechanism behind the alerts. “Based on location intelligence, the system calculates when each vehicle should move out from the parking lot. About an hour before the trip, the system begins monitoring the vehicle. Depending on whether the vehicle has begun moving or not, and how far it is from the pick-up point, the system issues an alert to the command center at Expresso.”
With this information, Expresso operators can reach out to their drivers and investigate why the bus hasn’t left on time. This also gives them the time to work with the driver to solve the issue and take preventive action. The impact of automating the monitoring and alert process has been significant.
With the help of the dashboard, Expresso has seen a 50% decrease in late start times—the predictive alerts have enabled the team to solve multiple problems pertaining to traffic management and delays. As a consequence, they have seen better ratings, which has led to better customer satisfaction and retention. Moreover, the Expresso team now feels empowered to make effective and data-driven decisions.