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Tolling Points

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Mike Pellegrino, Shimmick

The tolling industry, along with its customers, has experienced tremendous growth and change in the last several years. Following are examples of some of the more significant changes:


Younger Generation: with their social media and digital proficiencies, they are quickly becoming the largest demographic of an agency’s customer base. Just look around you next time you are at a restaurant, a sporting event, or your own dinner table. This is not a commentary on how we are losing our face-to-face communication skills but rather a growing dependency on social media through devices such as smartphones, digital watches, tablets, and laptops. Smartphone reliance and a shift from live calls to digital are becoming the norm and not the exception. A newer generation prefers to order their food online or on their phone and have it delivered to their doorstep via an app. The days of calling up a restaurant and placing an order are becoming less commonplace.


SMS Text Messaging: this form of communication has replaced the live call. Sometimes I think these devices in our pockets are basically for texting, surfing the Web, and ordering a pizza - and in those rare cases, they just happen to make and receive phone calls.


Technology: technology used to be an intimidating word, but more and more people, and companies, are embracing technology as we accept the fact that it can enable us to engage, connect, empower, and enhance our lives. The driving question we should be asking is ‘how well do we use the technology’ that is available to us to improve what we do instead of ‘why should we use it’ to improve what we do.


Customer Experience: agencies are beginning to realize they are no longer in the tolling business but rather in the customer experience business. They are defining how this will help them perform more uniquely in their marketplace while their customers demand better service, better technology, and better experiences.


Proliferation of Surveys: the days of filling out a survey postcard and dropping it in the mail are long gone. Technology has made customer surveying so much simpler and easier to use, resulting in an increase in customer participation and valuable customer feedback that can be widely shared with anyone with an internet connection.


Balancing Fact Versus Fiction

Balancing these changes in technology, efficiency, and customer-centricity are becoming a primary focus for tolling agencies, system providers, and contact center operators, however, agencies sometimes feel that they can only choose what’s behind Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3. What some don’t understand is that these priorities are not mutually exclusive and they can deliver on these changes; along with efficiency and quality experiences. Toll Authorities will ask themselves: ‘do I sacrifice the customer experience by focusing on lower costs, do I spend money on technology, or do I spend more money to provide a better customer experience?’


It’s Hard to Argue With the Facts

The reality is that customer contact centers are actually delivering more efficient operations while at the same time improving customer satisfaction outside of the transportation community with tremendous success. A recent study shows that customer experience leaders that have implemented AI and automation in customer operations reduced customer wait times by 23%, improved visibility into customer engagement by 23%, and enhanced their analytics capabilities by 20%.


Now, just imagine combining these focus areas with an experienced tolling operator who has the in-depth knowledge and expertise to recognize and mitigate pitfalls in the early stages that are specific and inherent to the tolling environment.  By implementing valuable lessons learned from similar toll programs, a seasoned toll operator knows what tools and processes are necessary to obtain performance levels desired by clients. They are in the best position to provide agencies with the proper guidance to improve operational performance and customer service quickly and effectively to levels they've yet to think were possible. The results would be a powerful gamechanger.


Customer Experience Technology for the 21st Century

Since technology, efficiency, and customer-centricity are mutually INCLUSIVE, agencies must demand 21st century proven technologies and methodologies from their operators. This approach will improve process efficiencies, lower operating costs; AND truly deliver a better overall customer experience to an ever-changing tolling customer.


For example, nothing annoys customers more than long wait times and endless IVR loops to complete simple tasks. When they finally reach a live agent these calls are costly, and yet avoidable. On average, companies can expect to deflect 20% of their simple-to-moderate task call volume away from their live agents to a more user-friendly, app-like text messaging solution, which has significant cost savings to their operations. It also allows the customer to resolve their issue or request much faster by using a form of communication they prefer. This technology and these results are being experienced today by many highly recognizable companies across the US.


Where Do You Go From Here

As you struggle to decide the most important priority that you should focus on -  technology, innovation, efficiency, cost savings, or service - remember that you can have your cake and eat it too. Bon appetit!

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 13:15


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