No More Procrastinate, Do Urban Clap

My refrigerator developed a snag and I had been procrastinating to get it fixed. Not that I am lazy but I didn’t know who to turn to to get this fixed. There isn’t any reliable repair shop in my locality neither did I feel like going through hundreds of results on JustDial or Google Places to shortlist one mechanic who might as well turn out to be a dud! How about using UrbanClap? I had certainly heard about the app but wasn’t sure of its services. I reluctantly downloaded the app, but I was in for a treat!

For starters, app does go a long distance to build a sense trust for a suspecting new user like me. Features such as ‘Customer Protection’ promise of up to Rs. 10,000 and ‘Pay after Service’ help build trust in the system. UrbanClap has also done a good job of understanding various use cases and designed relevant user workflows. When I tap into ‘Refrigerator Repair’ service, the app asks me to choose my refrigerator type. It is assuring to know that I won’t be matched with just any repair person but with somebody who is probably an expert in the specific issue.

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I go ahead and book an appointment for a next day 9:00 AM slot. The repair guy shows up on time! I learn from him that UrbanClap is tracking his movement and if he doesn’t checkin at the right time, he will be penalized for reaching late. I probe him on his credentials. He has 10 years of experience in repairing appliances and was on-boarded onto UrbanClap through a formal interview process. He gets down to business and explains that thermostat needs replacement. UrbanClap has already provided him with critical supplies and appliance parts. He bolts a new thermostat and my refrigerator is up and running again.

Over the course of next two days, I use UrbanClap for more services. I had been pleading the society plumber to come over for some regular plumbing work. But he had been only paying the lip service. I book a plumber on UrbanClap, the guy shows up on time, brings necessary supplies to do the job and is done within half an hour. You can imagine the joy of getting a job done in a fraction of time, when it had been pending for months! Next day I was visiting my relatives. They had been looking for a carpenter to fix mirrors and couple of such other minor chores. They had pleaded with a few carpenters, asked security guard, knocked on neighbors’ doors, but no carpenter had turned up so far. I swoop in, book the service on UrbanClap, carpenter shows up with all the tools and the work is done.

Using UrbanClap reminds me of using Uber. In the old world, you had to plead to taxi driver, tolerate tantrums and negotiate on fair. In the new world, you push a button and a cab comes to you and drops you at the destination. UrbanClap experience is similar. In the old world of PCs, classifieds were a boon. In the new world of mobile, in the world of omni present location services and popular mobile payment solutions, it is no longer enough to show a list of handymen and their ratings, but the businesses are expected to automatically assign the right person for the right job while owning the end to end experience.

Though I have compared UrbanClap’s experience to cab hailing services, it’s perhaps far more challenging for UrbanClap to monitor the quality of service. Unlike transportation services, repair and home cleaning services are not standardized and definition of job done varies from person to person. Unlike Uber which can charge you for the petrol and the time spent in traffic, for a given service, UrbanClap can only charge you by hour. While cab customers are used to paying by distance, paying by hour for a repair service can be a new concept for UrbanClap’s consumers (It did worry me when my on duty carpenter got a phone call!). UrbanClap’s customer may not frequent the app as often as they hail a cab service (e.g. I have taken 200+ Uber rides in last one year and so far only made 5 service requests on UrbanClap). Sparse data on customer behavior may also be a challenge to identify rogue customers. On the other extreme, if customer happens to use the service frequently, there is a chance that the customer and the service provider may collude and start transacting off the platform as happened with the SF based service provider Homejoy. It will also be a challenge for UrbanClap to match the formidable service levels of LG and Samsung in the appliance repair category. As I found later, if instead of tapping UrbanClap, had I called Samsung Service, they would have not only charged less but would have provided an original part. Nevertheless, UrbanClap has the opportunity to work with many other brands (such as WhirlPool, Voltas etc.) who may be looking to provide an efficient and cost effective services to their customers.

Overall I am really happy to have a service like UrbanClap. It does bring the swag in booking a repair service. You no longer need to plead a handyman or negotiate with him on price. If you have got a repair work, don’t procrastinate, just tap a button to get the job done. Probably they should run an ad, ‘No more procrastinate, do UrbanClap’. Should be a hit!

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Product, Internet and Data Anlytics

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