In Focus: Country Manager Zomato UAE, Oytun Calapover

6 years ago by

In an interview with, Oytun talks about how Zomato, a leading online food delivery service in UAE, upholds a customer-centric demeanor that has resulted in loyal customers having a strong affinity for their brand.

In Focus: Country Manager Zomato UAE, Oytun Calapover

Q: How is Zomato different from other online food delivery services?

Oytun: Zomato gives users access to the largest selection of restaurants in the UAE to order online from. Not only do we offer the widest variety of choice to our users, we also do this at a neighbourhood level – to ensure that most users have accessibility to a variety of choices across cuisines and price points. In addition to that, I think what’s different about Zomato is that most of the users who place orders on our platform have a deeper relationship with Zomato and have been using the platform for years – thus have a very strong affinity for the brand.

The other differentiation compared to other delivery services is our negligible cost of customer acquisition. Our spending on customer acquisition and marketing is minimal. We have a strong search and discovery product wherein users generate a lot of content on Zomato – reviews, ratings and photos – leading to strong network effects. These users provide a large organic acquisition channel for our food ordering business.

We also have long standing relationships with all our restaurant partners and have, over a period of time helped them improve their own delivery capabilities. We believe working with restaurant partners and building the ecosystem is the right way to scale the ordering business.

Q: What is Zomato’s formula for making customers want to come back?

Oytun: With more and more players entering the market, what will set one apart from the other is the overall customer experience and unit economics. All metrics of customer adoption of a product, the frequency of use and the end conversion will be driven by the quality of service a product offers. In any business, you are only as good as your customers think you are.

We have put customer delight at the front and centre of our online food ordering business right from the get go, and have the highest customer satisfaction rates due to our bullish focus on core factors like customer support, the overall experience of the online ordering flow and minimising the order failure rate to less than 0.5% among other things. This has led to a significant growth in orders and retention in our own context.

Q: How important do you believe being customer-centric is and to what extent do you believe Zomato is a customer-centric organization?

Oytun: I think we are obsessively customer focused – and in our case there are 3 customers – our end users, the restaurant partners who work with us, as well as our people, the ones that help build Zomato. We must all remember that the consumer will always have a choice in terms of which services to continue using; and the only reason why customers will continue using your services is because you put them first.

Q: What do you think is the best strategy for handling disgruntled customers?

Oytun: Listening patiently and being prompt in providing a real solution. Fluff is pointless; it goes a long way to be honest and transparent, and not pass the buck. The truth is that more than just a quick response (which is a given) we understand that when things go wrong our customers want us to understand their issue and try to solve it for them to the best of our abilities. This is only possible by creating a culture of ownership that ensures that – each and every Zoman goes above and beyond to try and resolve queries while at the same time trying to resolve the issue from root. And I am very proud of this culture that we have been able to create at Zomato.

Q: What sort of training programs do you have in place for your customer service team and what soft skills do you focus on?

Oytun: Like all support teams we have comprehensive process training programs which help our support team understand processes, policies and benchmarks. However, unlike most other training programs, on their (support teams) first day on the floor we tell them explicitly to ignore everything that they have learnt, if those learnings ever come in the way of creating a good customer experience.

The focus of our training then is not just quality and processes, but much more on the intent to solving issues and sustaining our culture of customer obsessiveness. On soft skills, I think we look for people who are patient, kind and result-oriented to begin with.

Q: What challenges do you face in ensuring every customer has a good experience with Zomato?

Oytun: Given that the online ordering industry is still in a comparatively nascent phase, we face the kind of teething issues one would expect everywhere – logistical challenges, training the restaurant staff etc.

Q: What mediums of communication do you offer to your customers when they want to get in touch with a Zomato representative?

Oytun: We have always encouraged open communication with our users though emails, calls, as well as through social media channels. For the food delivery business while there is this – we also have in app (in web) real time chat so users can speak to us real time, allowing us to solve for issues as soon as they creep up.

Q: What are your future plans for offering better customer experience?

Oytun: We are always listening to our users and running customer surveys and focus groups to better understand our value proposition for the customer as well as get their perspective on how they interact with the platform. In his recent email to all of us, our founder Deepinder said, “The only objective all of us should have while we build Zomato is to be useful and helpful – to our users, and our merchant partners.” I think constantly remembering that, and keeping that at the center of all our actions as an organisation allows for us to keep evolving the product in the right direction.

About Oytun Calapover

Oytun Calapover serves Zomato as country manager of the UAE. He leads Zomato’s dynamic and ambitious UAE team in their pursuit of aggressive growth and profitability targets in a very competitive market. Previously Oytun led Zomato’s Turkey operations for 3.5 years and took part in the company’s global growth and international expansion initiatives.