BT EXCLUSIVE

Gojek on track to launch integrated suite of benefits for its drivers

The ride-hailing firm has been discreetly recruiting drivers for a programme that tests new products and services

Singapore

GOJEK is recruiting drivers for an innovation group, the latest in a series of recent initiatives that puts the Indonesian ride-hailing firm on track for an integrated suite of driver-support services to compete against rival Grab's Better 365 campaign.

The group, called GoBlazers, pilots new products and services with a select group of drivers to gather feedback from them and finetune the products tested.

Gojek began recruiting drivers for the invite-only group from November 2018, when it launched its beta ride-hailing service in Singapore. Since then, the firm has appointed some 20 driver partners to the programme. Gojek told The Business Times that it aims to grow this team to "hundreds" this year.

Participants in Gojek's GoBlazers programme must be active drivers and "community leaders", able to assist other drivers with the new features when they are officially launched. Drivers will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement to join the group, and are compensated based on the hours they clock for testing these new features and attending feedback sessions.

Feedback on the products are collected via Whatsapp channels, surveys and feedback sessions. Gojek's team of software engineers and product managers will be involved in the process to better understand user needs and implement relevant products.

The unveiling of GoBlazers follows a series of announcements about the firm partnering with companies to improve driver experience.

Revealed last month was Gojek's partnership with Singapore-based insurance technology company Gigacover for an earnings protection insurance scheme for its drivers.

The following week, Gojek unveiled a partnership with Doctor Anywhere, an on-demand video consultation platform that connects users to doctors for medical consultation.

On Wednesday, it announced an exclusive partnership with Esso and DBS to provide its drivers with competitive fuel rebates.

In response to speculation of a single programme encompassing all of the firm's driver-support services, a Gojek representative said: "We are close to finalising partnerships with a number of fantastic companies - including insurance and healthcare providers - to offer a comprehensive suite of benefits for all of our driver-partners. We will continue to announce more details in due course."

Rival Grab's Better 365 campaign, launched in December 2017, is aimed at improving drivers' experience through better support, increased earnings, better tools and a stronger community. For instance, GrabAcademy provides a platform for services like training videos while Grab Partner Guard is a personal accident plan underwritten by Chubb.

Jacinta Williams, a 62-year-old full-time driver in the GoBlazers programme, told BT that Gojek's "pause button" function was an idea floated by the group to the firm.

"Initially, when there was no pause button, it was impossible to take a toilet break as the pings (request to pick up passengers) came in non-stop," she said.

Once the function was in place, Mrs Williams spread the word via group chats. "I am in several group chats and in each chat, there can be more than 200 drivers. Sometimes they will even call me to make suggestions on improvements."

Other launched products and schemes that were first piloted with the group include the Heatmap function and "I've arrived" button.

The GoBlazers scheme is exclusive to Singapore; Gojek has driver programmes tailored for different markets.

Experts have pointed out that the heat to woo drivers is on, ever since Uber's merger with Grab last year caused the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) to rule that Grab had to cease exclusivity deals with drivers or taxi fleets. The Land Transport Authority followed up in January this year, saying that it wants to end driver exclusivity arrangements.