Paratransit is a straightforward system. Customers book a trip; they are picked up and then dropped off anywhere they need to be. Sometimes called community transport or dial-a-ride, paratransit promises individuals with limited mobility and disabilities more affordable, accessible, and equitable transportation.
Unfortunately for some paratransit customers, using a paratransit service can be a not-so-enjoyable ride. Still, there are some ways for paratransit companies to improve their customer’s experience.
- Adapt Technology
Keeping up with the advancing technology is crucial for paratransit companies. Traditionally, paratransit trips require reservations booked in advance via email or phone call. This removes the unplanned aspect of travel by the non-disabled customers.
In order to address this problem, paratransit providers need to implement sophisticated apps in order to create a seamless and responsive solution. Today’s mobile apps take instant reservations as well as the live tracking of vehicle locations via GPS.
Furthermore, robust dispatch solutions like Spare’s paratransit platform are designed to allow the seamless management of routes, schedules, and vehicles, preventing problems and issues, for instance, a new driver getting lost in unfamiliar territory.
- Add Customer Amenities
Providing timely and efficient service is the goal of paratransit operators. If this goal is met, then most of your customers will be satisfied. However, why should you stop at being timely and efficient?
Consider implanting some changes that can help improve the convenience and safety of your paratransit service. You can take several actions to improve service like placing paratransit stops signs at large complexes such as colleges and shopping malls so both operators and customers find the exact drop-off and pick-up points.
Also, you can improve the speed and safety of the boarding and exiting process by implementing a fleet retrofit program to replace the cumbersome scooter and wheelchair restraints. You can also consider developing an annunciator system placed in lobbies or other waiting areas telling customers that their vehicle has arrived.
- Simplifying Payments
Cash payments tend to slow down the boarding process and put the burden on the drivers. In manual systems, paratransit customers can pay by credit card at the time of booking. However, in order to pay by card, call centers should be PCI-compliant which adds complexity to the already complex process.
To resolve this, you need to implement an integrated system where customers can decide to add payment types—depending on the riders’ and company’s preference.
For users booking via call, companies can use an automated system that collects credit card data without the need for human intervention. Just to ensure the process runs smoothly, your call center agents can follow up on the payment progress in real-time via the admin interface.
- Streamlining Your Call Center
Booking a paratransit ride, a customer usually requires calling the company’s call center. Within that process, there are numerous low-value tasks that don’t need the expertise of a real person.
Thus, you need to automate your call center and redirect the costly human resources to higher-value tasks so your agents can concentrate on providing better customer service. For instance, instead of an employee inputting data with a call-in booking, users can be guided through the process via a virtual agent. The experience should replicate the flow of communicating with a live agent by presenting a series of prompts that can be answered via voice command or keypad.
- Registration Goes Digital
Customers should be eligible to receive services from specialized transit companies. This is particularly true in the US where paratransit is required by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
In a traditional, manual system, users fill out a form, get a medical evaluation from their doctor and send the form to be approved by the transit company. This process can take several weeks to complete particularly, if an in-person assessment is needed.
This can be frustrating to the customers and may cause delays. To prevent this, you can integrate the entire registration process into your software platform. Customers could fill out a form online. They can either upload a medical evaluation or notify a doctor to book an appointment. Then, video assessments should be implemented and the customer application can be evaluated much efficiently. This cuts waiting time for potential users and streamlining the registration process.
Paratransit may still be an underdog. However, with public transportation evolving and increased demand for specialized transportation, the future of this service looks bright. Furthermore, emerging techs can help enhance customer service by providing a more enjoyable experience and greater accessibility for persons with disabilities and mobility problems.