London firm launches world's first "Talk/Don't Talk" service

New research reveals Britain’s quirkier side as London minicab firm launches the world’s first “Talk/Don’t Talk” service.

The research undertaken by greentomatocars wanted to understand how many of their customers preferred to travel in silence and whether they would feel comfortable asking their drivers not to talk or to change the radio station.

It was found that only 10% of people in London would be very likely to say something; a statistic which has encouraged the firm to be the first in the world to introduce its own driver muting system.

“It’s quite straightforward really,” says Jonny Goldstone, managing director, greentomatocars. “Customers who use our service are paying for a quality experience which has a low environmental impact. If that means they want to travel in silence then we want them to feel comfortable saying so. That’s why we’re introducing a simple device which helps them take control.”

The “Talk/Don’t Talk” initiative is being trialled in a number of cars. On entering the car, the customer can flick a sign which tells the driver whether or not they’re up for a chat. If successful, the initiative will be rolled out across the rest of the fleet.

“It’s vital for companies to understand the value of pro-active customer care. We might not enjoy complaining, but that doesn’t mean we’re always happy with the service, which is why it’s so enjoyable when firms like greentomatocars work to take away the need for us to either lose our cool or suffer in silence.” Judi James says.

Jonny Goldstone continues: “It’s a bit of fun but has a serious underside. People are more likely to tell a waiter they don’t like the food or ask for the service charge to be removed than they are to tell a driver that they would prefer to sit in silence. Our customers pay for our service in the same way they pay in a restaurant so we want them to feel equally comfortable.”

Over a third of Londoners (39%) have taken a journey where they didn’t want the driver to talk and 40% have felt obliged to join in conversation rather than say what they thought – that they wanted to travel in silence.

“It’s not easy,” adds Jonny Goldstone. “British taxi drivers are renowned all over the world for being amongst the best talkers and our drivers are no different. Other nationalities have no problem asking our drivers not to talk but we’re typically a nation of reserved people so anything and everything we can do to help is all part of the service. We pride ourselves on recruiting drivers based on personality as well as experience. They’re all trained in customer service, which includes gauging the moods of passengers – this is quite rare in our industry”

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