Formerly UrbanClap, Urban Company (UC) is India & UAE’s largest at-home services provider. They have over 27,000 professionals on their roster and over 10 million downloads from the Google Play Store alone.
Most UC services are high-touch and involve a professional called a ‘Pro’. These men and women visit customer homes and visits could often take well over 30 minutes. Given Government restrictions as well those placed by Resident Welfare Associations, UC faced a significant challenge in resuming services. All this came at the onset of the busiest time of the year for the company, which was looking to double its business between February and April.
New SOPs for a New Normal
From late March 2020, the company channelised all their efforts towards a company-wide mission called Mission Shakti. The OKRs and KPIs of the entire company were changed to ensure safety became the #1 priority. This meant the fairly gargantuan task of establishing a new SOP for all home visits, as well as revising individual SOPs for all high-touch jobs. Most importantly, it meant training the Pros to comply with these new SOPs.
“There is a 14-point Standard Operating Procedure that each Pro needs to follow. From ringing the bell and sanitizing it, to wearing PPE, maintaining distancing, to sanitizing the place before they leave, SOPs for respective jobs were changed wherever needed.”Sachin Gupta, AVP Product, Urban Company
Daily Partner Health Checks
Pros need to do a daily temperature check and send a picture of the thermometer through the app. Machine learning detects the reading, and Pros are allowed to access jobs only if they have a normal temperature for three days running and display no other symptoms of illness. They also need to share their daily Aarogya Setu (the government-mandated contact tracing app) status to rule out secondary sources of infection.
Sanitise all Surfaces
Partners now carry sanitiser and sanitise all surfaces they touch, before and after touching them. This includes elevator buttons, door-bells, door-handles and any furniture surfaces inside the customer’s home.
Proof of PPE Usage
Once the Pro arrives at the customer’s home, they take a selfie to show they are wearing a mask. They also need to send pictures of themselves wearing gloves and carrying hand sanitiser. Only once this is done, does the app allow them to take the job OTP from the customer. The company also conducts surprise spot checks.
Distancing and contactless services
Wherever jobs allow, the Pro maintains a safe distance from the customer. For high-touch jobs like salon services that involve physically touching the customer, new SOPs include additional measures for safety, such as sanitising all tools and surfaces before and after the service, donning a a fresh set of gloves and mask before starting the job and using contactless techniques as much as possible, like using a roller for applying wax. For eyebrow threading the Pro now puts the thread around her neck to create the required tension in the thread. The Pro is even required to carry their own disposal bag. Gloves must be worn at all times, even for nail services.
Once the SOPs were established, the challenge was to train Pros, who typically come from diverse backgrounds. Mandatory training was carried out to stress the importance of these measures, as well as to familiarise Pros with the revised app flow.
Customer-side app changes
Before starting a job, each customer is now required to provide a self-declaration of their health. They can view the self-reported temperature of the Pro they have hired and can provide a new hygiene rating, in addition to the usual service rating.
It is almost certain that all companies that involve some amount of service provider-customer interaction will take steps to reassure customers. Just two months ago, providing the temperature of your chef on food packaging was an innovation. It is de facto now. The future points to one where hygiene will become – well – hygiene.
It will be very interesting to see how customer behaviour evolves post lockdown. Will UC, with its pumped-up and standardised hygiene procedures become more attractive than your neighbourhood salon / handyman? Or will there be safety in familiarity and personal assurances? Only time will tell.