That moment when you’re stranded for a ride in an area that isn’t usually covered by a taxi service is never a good one. You’re flapping your arms around looking for a cab, and if you’re lucky, your fare won’t be based on the driver’s whim. For Matea Malikanovic, hailing her first Careem two years ago in Doha when she was stuck without a ride in just a few minutes was a welcome surprise that soon after changed her career path.
A truly global citizen, Matea moved to the Middle East five years ago, leaving her life in Sarajevo to make Doha her new home. After her first Careem experience in Doha that turned the Economics graduate from Georgetown University into a loyal Careem customer, Matea connected with the company’s General Manager and joined the Careem team as Marketing Manager in the GCC. Today, she heads all things fun at the company that is bringing stress-free rides to everyone here in Kuwait, and Matea is constantly thinking of new and bold ways to live the startup’s ethos and be Careem to customers and captains alike. When she’s not working, Matea is learning Arabic or soaking up the sun.
A typical day for the marketer at the Careem HQ in Dubai is usually very hectic but always exciting. Matea usually starts off her mornings by first catching up on emails and connecting with colleagues, she explains, “Our central marketing team a.k.a. ‘Basecamp’ works with us on the cities, or ‘Mountain Peaks’, on network-wide initiatives like our most recent stunt video with a man being ‘catapulted’ from a rooftop in Dubai.” Upon assuring us here at bazaar that no humans were harmed during the filming of this fun stunt, Matea highlights the importance of utilizing digital marketing and working closely with a talented digital team to check on the performance of Careem’s advertisements and social media channels. Fun and games aside, Matea’s responsibilities also include strategizing with Careem’s team to assess the company’s strengths and pinpoint how they could always improve their services, “scouting for new opportunities and ways to impress our users is a daily goal for me.”
In working with a company that focuses on the well-being of its employees to always deliver an impeccable service to its customers, Matea tells us that Careem Captains, the wonderful drivers you meet on a regular basis in Kuwait who come from all walks of life, are offered high monthly performance bonuses to supplement their income on a purely merit-based approach. Because Careem prides itself on the value of the people they work with, captains are vetted carefully, given extensive training on customer satisfaction, and Matea, along with other Careem employees, actually ride with Captains on a regular basis to provide them with feedback and support. Matea explains, “The initial training session [given to Careem captains] is followed by a four-week onboarding process. Each week focuses on a different aspect of customer service and maintaining high operational efficiency, which, in turn, ensures that customers get a ride quickly and smoothly.”
Social activities for Careem Captains are organized on a monthly basis as well. From a game of football or cricket to breakfast and lunch meets, hard working captains are always recognized and rewarded for their hard work. Perhaps an awesome example that illustrates this point best is Careem’s ‘ANACAREEM’ campaign that was launched during Eid Al Fitr in a way to say thank you to the valued Captains. Matea adds, “During this campaign, we doubled the value of trips taken during Eid and passed them on as a tip to our captains.”
As a marketer, Matea truly believes in transparency, and this is reflected in the usage of the Careem app. Matea informs us that users can track their rides in-app, have access to their full trip history and receive a detailed fare breakdown by email. “Additionally, our website allows users to make bookings on behalf of others and get updates on their trip status. We see instances where parents make such bookings for their kids on school days. Quality management is our key metric and is something we are very vigilant about. Our fleet team gets live updates on all complaints or low ratings and ensures any problems are resolved; We strive to ensure that both our customers and captains have a great experience.”
As for us users in Kuwait, Matea tells bazaar that a big part of Careem’s mission is to listen to customers, which is predominantly why Careem rolled out their cash payment feature and is planning on introducing K-NET as a payment feature for Kuwait customers to further enhance ease of payment. Matea also says that the company is working on expanding its availability across all areas in Kuwait, with more offers coming to users in our beloved K-town. At this point in our conversation, Matea begins raving about her Kuwait visits, especially focusing on Kuwait’s fantastic foodie scene, and we ended up quickly arranging for a Careem Captain to take us to the bustling Avenues for a meal. While choosing between sushi or pizza for lunch, Matea leaves us with this note, “At Careem, we are very excited about growth prospects in Kuwait and making it easier for everyone to get around. But for now, I say we settle on pizza.