As you embark on the sometimes challenging and time-consuming process of a software implementation, Ecolane wants to help head off as many obstacles to success as possible. The most important factor for a positive implementation experience is communication. Our team stresses from the kick-off of a project that communication to clients is crucial to success.
Like any other business change, implementing new transit software is easy in theory, but requires time and important resources. Success is often related to how much your staff and customers understand the new system. You can easily end up exchanging your new software’s benefits with poor adoption rates, unhappy customers, and other major headaches.
Most transit agencies realize the importance of notifying and training their staff for new transit software, but we want to be sure that every agency is aware of the significance of riders being aware of a change and how it will affect them.
Here are 3 reasons you must include customer communications in your transit software implementation plans:
- A heads up on user-related changes: Your agency’s staff will experience the most direct effects of any software change, but your clients will also be impacted by this transition. Namely in the following ways…
Changes in the reservation process – Much of your client base is used to the reservation process of your existing legacy system. So, as your Ecolane implementation happens, when Mrs. Smith calls for her usual trip, the reservationist will be asking her new questions. This is the perfect time to inform clients of the change and how they will make the process more efficient and accurate moving forward.
Changes in pick-up/drop-off times – As schedules become more efficient, longtime riders who are used to being picked up and dropped off at the exact same time may see a change in those times. This is important to communicate to clients ahead of time, not only so they can adjust their schedules accordingly, but so they are ready and waiting at the new time a driver is set to arrive. In this instance, an agency can explain to clients that they are not reducing the quality of service, but improving the ability to serve the community at a broader scale.
Changes in the enforcement of existing policies – Every transit agency offers documented operational policies to its riders. An example of this may be a suspension of ride privileges after a certain number of no-shows for trips. With the real-time data Ecolane provides, this information reaches management faster and can therefore be enforced almost immediately. This may be a change for some of the client base, and it is important they understand how this may affect them moving forward.
- Preparing users for operational changes: New transit software can change how your agency operates especially if your agency has not had a software update in the past. This may mean clients interact with staff they aren’t used to, such as a new driver than “the one who always picks me up” or a reservationist that is asking for additional information to properly book a trip. Also, in some cases, clients may be alarmed to see a tablet mounted by the driver on their first trip after Ecolane MDT is installed. An agency should be sure that the drivers are comfortable enough to explain that this is helping them be more efficient, safer, and accurate with their trips.
- Conveying the reasoning: Changes always come with some cost. The software change will cause operational changes for your agency, as well as affect the way your client base utilizes your service, so be sure to communicate the reasoning behind this to your base. All stakeholders need to be aware that despite initial challenges or growing pains that may arise during the transition, this change is for the greater good of the community because it better serves the agency’s customers—the people who depend on public transportation and paratransit services.
Because the transit industry is so dynamic, it is critical to the success of your business to include customers on all changes relative to and resulting from the new software implementation. These changes not only affect how your business operates, but also how your customers plan ahead. Leaving your customers in the lurch can result in customers who are confused about the new scheduling procedure, frustrated with changes they know nothing about, customers who miss pick-ups and drop-offs, and eventually as a result, perhaps lost customers. But this can be avoided by simply keeping an ongoing communication and discussion with riders before, during, and after a new software implementation.
See for yourself how you can increase efficiency and promote rider safety and independence using the most advanced scheduling and dispatching software available on the market. Schedule your risk free-demo.
Ashley has been with Ecolane for several years, having started in the accounting department and advancing into her current role as Customer Service Liaison where she coordinates and communicates activities, training, protocol, and other information between Ecolane and the clients. In addition, she helps to mitigate potential service issues and troubleshoots emerging service problems. Prior to joining Ecolane, she worked in retail management, where she developed her skills customer service, client-relationship building and client-relationship management.
Ashley is an avid sports fan. She watches most national sports, played soccer for 16 years, and has coached several youth leagues over the years.
About the Author
Read Ashley's blog articles for perspective, opinion and information on transit and paratransit issues.