The Zomato revolution has certainly changed the way we eat, doorstep delivery bridging the distance gap efficiently. Its backbone is the delivery boy network, the subject of both adulation and flak. Eateries, customers and portals must unite for a Common Code of Conduct to ensure the motivation and growth of this kitchen-to-table warrior. Else we may be staring at a miniature social revolution, more severe than simply a manpower crisis.
For starters, please do notice how this cadre is treated by restaurant managers, especially the well-heeled setups. They are made to queue outside in beggar-like fashion, gruffly handed over a package and summarily dismissed. I have noticed this in multiple establishments, their presence just about tolerated for the undeniable revenue opportunities. When they reach homes and offices, the reception is scarcely better, the contents are hastily accepted, and any delay is severely censured. In the rare occurrence of an employee succumbing to hunger pangs and behaving unprofessionally, social media is up in arms.
It is necessary to note that our attitude is much better with other new-economy intermediaries, who anyway work in better job cultures. The courier boy from Amazon appears more professional with the documentation and uniforms while Uber drivers define and not just support the core value proposition. Urban Clap has upgraded the stature of plumbers, mechanics and many hitherto underrated occupations. Even in food delivery, the Domino’s Pizza boy gets a better reception as he has been positioned as part of the core experience, delivering the 30-minute promise. The Zomato valet is however projected as an invisible middleman, what matters is just the food at the right price.
The first step in a Common Code of Conduct is to professionalise the services of the delivery men. A cross-category initiative undertaken by the leading players to issue licenses upon fulfilling certain basic criteria. Which includes training in communication, hygienic handling, safe riding and an overall commitment to customer centricity. Every member of the delivery fraternity can thus sport the affiliation badge, giving sustainable credence to an otherwise trying profession.
Important in this endeavour is the standardisation of attire including proper shoes, in affiliation with Bata perhaps, along with all-weather uniform clothes, brand partnerships totally welcome. It has also been noticed that the very people who bring us food often go hungry so a meal plan with preferred partners, including the cart-based kulcha man, will be most welcome. Essentially a thirty-rupee lunch or dinner package that takes care of the basic nutrition.
This protocol must extend to the restaurant as well, with a dedicated outdoor seating, albeit three or four chairs, for these emissaries of delight. Along with a bottle of packaged water, ideally chilled to be handed over with every order picked up. A tie-up with Sulabh Sauchalaya or perhaps the washrooms in the high-revenue aggregators like Galleria in Gurgaon, allowing free access to every badge holder. On a more serious note, health and life insurance provided by the association, even if deducted partially from their earnings.
The end customer must be goaded to be appreciative as well, a version of the service charge initiated as delivery gratuity. Prima facie voluntary, but a campaign motivating a 10% top-up for every order. A mutual rating system initiated like Uber, where both parties are empowered to assess the behaviour of the other. Thereby, imbibing a best practice that ensures a sustainable equilibrium, in society and transaction.
It must be noted though that the biggest enemy of the delivery boy currently is the employer, like Zomato and Swiggy. A condescending and derogatory marketing pitch urging customers to give them a glass of water or a tip to help their families. Gestures which amply betray a lack of genuine ownership over this valuable link in the value chain and a definite strain of marketing myopia. Domino’s Pizza never betrayed this disdain this for their elite delivery channel nor did Eureka Forbes, pioneers in a different age.
The Common Code of Conduct for delivery will give the food delivery industry a lift that it richly deserves. By aligning every member of the value chain through delight and gratification, initiating a culture most valuable. Next time you order on Swiggy do think about this and you will know what I mean.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: email@example.com)
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