Mobile Applications Case Study
Road America Speeds Response to Roadside Emergencies with Mobility Solution (Cont'd)
We have a lot of businesses within our control and management, so it’s important that we have a solution that crosses all clients. These elements make this a very unique and valuable application.”
- Dennis Fantis, President, Road America
About Road America
Road America Facts
Lower customer anxiety and decrease operational costs by pinpointing locations of customer emergencies quickly and precisely
AT&T Location Information Services uses multi-carrier mobile device data to locate users
Automatic location can boost service quality, speed response time, provide higher customer satisfaction and help cut costs
Roadside assistance solutions
Assists more than 40 million customers on behalf of 120 corporate clients
Headquartered in Miami, Road America is a leading business-to-business provider of roadside assistance solutions, serving customers of client companies with everything from directions and fuel to towing and tire changes. Road America works with a network of service providers to cover a range of vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and commercial trucks. Founded in 1978, Road America has grown to serve all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of MAPFRE, a multinational auto insurance and roadside services company.
Clients in need of roadside assistance call Road America’s 24-hour Response Centers, where Assistance Coordinators determine their needs and dispatch service providers. Rapid, accurate identification of the caller’s location is critical, yet stranded drivers don’t always know where they are. An existing solution relied on computer mapping programs that were updated quarterly. The result was sometimes lengthy telephone interactions with customers that delayed the dispatching of service providers increasing costs and lowering service quality and customer satisfaction. Its parent company MAPFRE initiated a search for a better way to locate drivers in need. Road America could envision the solution, but couldn’t find the technology to create it.
Working with AT&T, Road America launched its LocateMe® service, utilizing AT&T Location Information Services, as part of the incoming call process at Road America Response Centers. Given caller permission, the caller’s location is identified through the very device they’re using to call, be it landline, cell phone or smart phone. LocateMe service enables Road America to access cellular and/or geo location data from multiple carriers’ networks. The solution reduces wait times for callers and helps service providers get there faster, increasing quality of service. And Road America has seen a decrease in average call time, which means Assistance Coordinators can move along faster to help the next caller.
Setting the Standard for Customized Assistance
Road America provides roadside assistance solutions to client companies, such as vehicle manufacturers, car clubs and insurance and fleet companies, who offer the services to customers and members as a way to add value to their own business. Road America specializes in assisting owners of high-end automobiles, motorcycles and RV’s, which often need special equipment for vehicle towing. The company sets high standards for service providers, who must meet a thorough list of requirements.
Safety is impacted by the speed and accuracy of rescuing that customer and getting them off the side of the road.”
- Dennis Fantis, President, Road America
“We’re working with the largest industries and the largest companies within those industries, that have millions of customers that they’re trying to retain and build value with,” said Dennis Fantis, President. Road America’s services are often tied to new vehicle purchases, insurance policies and other benefits packages. The company serves a range of industries including financial, manufacturing, insurance and telecommunications.
When trouble strikes, the Assistance Coordinators at Road America’s state-of-the-art Response Centers in Columbus, Georgia and Miami, Florida connect the stranded driver with the closest and best qualified service provider. Road America receives calls from motorists who are signed up to receive their benefits, determines the driver’s location and needs, and then dispatches help. There is no room for delay or error. “Speed and accuracy drive quality, efficiency and satisfaction,” said Fantis.
From greeting customers to selecting service providers, Road America is focused on providing high quality, customized solutions. “When drivers call for help, the script that is read and the presentation of the information is completely tailored to that particular client and the way that they want us to treat that customer,” explained IT Director Enrique Santos. Each client company receives at least one dedicated toll-free number, so Road America Assistance Coordinators know immediately which program callers are using.
Seeking a Better Answer to “Where Are You?”
The speed, accuracy and reliability of Road America’s services depend on quickly pinpointing the driver’s location, yet callers don’t always know where they are. That’s part of Road America’s job. “Imagine that you have broken down in the Mojave Desert and you have an Assistance Coordinator here in Miami or in Columbus trying to figure out where you really are so that he or she can relay that information to a selected provider that’s close to you,” said Santos. “It’s a very challenging thing.”
Road America has long used technology to help determine driver locations, but it was not optimally accurate or efficient. Until recently, Road America employed a computer mapping program to estimate callers’ locations. Program data was updated by the software company, leaving Road America with potentially outdated and incomplete information. The method caused longer wait times for drivers – a matter of both convenience and safety. The faster drivers can get back on the road, the safer it is for them. “The side of the road is a dangerous place,” said Fantis. “Safety is impacted by the speed and accuracy of rescuing that customer and getting them off the side of the road.”
In addition, the map-based location method compromised the company’s efficiency. “If we get bogged down on a call, that starts to slow the average speed of answer,” said Fantis. “To be profitable in this business,” Santos added, “we have to create efficiencies everywhere, so that the overall cost of receiving and dispatching a call continues to go down.” Its parent company MAPFRE mandated that Road America seek a better way to locate clients in trouble.
Creating the Solution
The breakdown location process had been a consistent concern, and Road America knew what was needed. But that solution didn’t yet exist. “Nobody had anything even in the works that could do what we wanted to do,” said Santos. So Road America contacted a number of providers, including AT&T. AT&T was able to use the Location Information Services platform to help create a cross-carrier location solution. Road America was more than ready, and implementation was easy. The company began a trial and within months went public with the solution.
LocateMe integrates AT&T Location Information Services into Road America’s initial point of contact with drivers. “LocateMe and our AT&T relationship kicks in at the most critical part, which is the receiving of the call,” Fantis explained.
More than 70 percent of help calls come from wireless devices. LocateMe enables Road America operators to access network-based CellID, Enhanced-CellID and Global Positioning System (GPS) location data to pinpoint the caller’s location, relying on information from the telecommunication device they’re using. Wireline phone locations are identified through a database. An added benefit: the solution costs customers nothing. It uses the devices most people already have with them while driving.
LocateMe operates across multiple devices and carriers, not solely AT&T products and network. “We have a lot of businesses within our control and management, so it’s important that we have a solution that crosses all clients,” said Fantis. “These elements make this a very unique and valuable application.”
Improving Quality of Service
For drivers calling in, the solution means shorter wait times, improved quality of customer service – and privacy. Customer privacy was a main concern for AT&T. “AT&T did a very good job in insisting that we have in place the mechanisms to ensure customers give us the authority to find their location using their phones,” said Santos.
Callers are prompted by an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system as to whether they want LocateMe to be enabled. If they say no, the Assistance Coordinator who then answers will explain the benefits, how it works and ask again. Assistance Coordinators explain to callers their privacy will not be compromised. LocateMe does not track customers, but provides a one-time only access to cellular data. “Most of the no’s that we get initially from the IVR convert to yes at that point,” Santos said.
The LocateMe system accesses the caller’s GPS-identified location or calculates their location in relationship to the nearest cell towers. The process is automatic for the Assistance Coordinators. “When the Assistance Coordinator opens the screen to confirm where the customer is, they already see a map and a little vehicle icon pinpointing the address that has been returned by the LocateMe service,” explained Santos.
Road America Assistance Coordinators can then greet callers already knowing who and where they are – a comfort to people stranded in unknown places and hazardous situations. “Because initially you’ve got them happy, that greeting creates a big advantage in customer service,” said Santos.
Expanding the Solution
In the short time the LocateMe solution has been in place, average call time has already been significantly reduced. “We are predicting that it’s saving from one to three minutes per call,” Santos said. Shorter call times allow operators to take more calls and help more customers. This reduces costs and gives Road America the ability to bid against the industry’s higher volume competitors.
Road America is continuing to extend the reach and use of LocateMe service. The last step in the call process is dispatch confirmation – Road America calls drivers back to let them know when the service provider is expected to arrive. The company has already identified a way to more accurately track service providers on route to motorists and give those motorists detailed updates as they wait, “so you’re not there waiting without getting any information,” Santos explained.
Finally, LocateMe also has the potential to enable Road America to actually help manage the efficient dispatch of service provider vehicles. “We can pinpoint which one is the closest truck, find out if that truck can do the service and help them navigate to that location much faster,” said Santos. That will be the next step. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”