What Orange County can teach Houston Metro about saving money

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Generally when you are looking for bus schedule information you pick up a printed schedule or call the bus customer information center. At a cost of $2 per call, expenses for the call center was hovering around $144,000 per month for the Orange Country Transportation Authority. Since practically everyone has a mobile phone, the Orange County Transportation Authority came up with a clever way to reduce cost and still provide a convenient way to service customers.

In an effort to:

- To reduce customer dependence/reliance on printed schedule information

- To reduce the number of calls to the Customer Information Centre (CIC)

- To provide OCTA bus customers with immediate access to bus arrival times

- To create awareness and understanding of the Text4Next program

- To increase program usage and develop repeat use among OCTA bus customers

OCTA working with ExactTarget, came up with Text4Next, which provides SMS-based bus arrival times for customers based on bus stop and route number. Once a customer sends a text with their specific bus stop number and bus route number to the short code OCTAGO, ExactTarget’s processes that information, in conjunction with OCTA’s bus system scheduling platform, and sends the customer back the next three arrival times their bus will arrive at that stop.

By implementing this new text-messaging program, OCTA was able to provide customers with individualized bus schedule information at a more cost-effective level. Whereas each call to the CIC cost OCTA $2, the Text4Next service was developed, at a per call charge of $0.10 to OCTA, resulting in a substantial cost savings. Estimates show that the Text4Next program has saved OCTA more than $350,000 since its launch.

Come on Metro! It’s a strategy that has already proven to work, so let’s stop wasting time and get it implemented here. Let Metro hear your voice, reach out to them and tell them your thoughts.

Original story by Dan Butcher from Mobile Marketer.


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