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Tolling Points

Toll Agencies Use Data to Drive Smarter Strategy

By: 
Bill Cramer

With customer data in hand, and new tools available to make better use of it, tolling agencies have an unprecedented opportunity to build stronger relationships with their customers and their employees who keep the toll facility up and running.

And as moderator of the data management panel at IBTTA’s New Media, Communications & Human Resources Workshop, October 18-20 in Cleveland, Malika Reed Wilkins says she’s looking forward to sharing the techniques and insights her own agency has used to boost its visibility and operational efficiency.

“At the end of the day, we are using research to make sound business decisions for our organization and deliver the best customer experience we can,” says Wilkins, Director of Marketing and Communications at the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) in Atlanta, Georgia.

“You have to be strategic about it,” she adds. “When the people on our roads are paying for a premium service, we owe it to our customers and our employees to give them the best experience and use data to help drive those decisions.”

Different Audiences, Different Profiles

During the panel session, Craig Bettmann of Shaumburg, IL-based Cogensia will explore how tolling agencies can segment the different target audiences in their customer pools.

“Firms such as Cogensia are taking trip data from your lanes and matching it to a wide database of psychographic and demographic information to come up with user profiles,” Wilkins explains. For agencies offering special promotions, or offering enhanced services like mobile apps, “you can explore a certain segment that may be more prone to participate. It really digs deeper into the types of people who use your roadway at different times,” including their demographics, product preferences, and price sensitivity.

Services like Cogensia’s “are really going beyond run-of-the-mill customer data, like how many people have transponders and which ZIP codes they live in, to help entities build real customer intelligence,” she adds. Case in point:  when SRTA introduced an incentive to encourage transit usage during peak periods, 182 of the 260 users who accepted the offer were identified through a Cogensia profile for price-sensitive customers.

Tracking Progress Over Time

Agencies can also use new data techniques to track customer and employee satisfaction over time. Dr. Chris Lewis of Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies will focus her presentation on the importance of benchmarking customer and employee satisfaction to promote operational improvements that make a difference to key stakeholders.

As an academic institution, “they have a plethora of tools and resources right at their fingertips,” Wilkins says. “It’s been especially important for us to remain consistent in the survey instruments we use to gain insight from our employees and customers year after year.”

Tolling Technology Makes It Happen

While many tolling agencies would have trouble maximizing the use of their data without outside expertise, the data itself is only available because of the technology transformation that has swept the industry in the last 10 to 15 years.

Without the sheer computing power and data-gathering capability in a modern back office, data consultants would have far less raw material to work with, which means participants who attend Wilkins’ panel session will have as much insight to share as they stand to gain.

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