Get Customer Satisfaction Solutions with Customer Service Technology!

Learn how other companies are leveraging information technology to provide smoother, faster customer service.

Customers today want more than a good product at a competitive price. They want hassle-free shopping and a way to save time. If you can deliver those things, your customers will reward you with their loyalty.

Stuck for a solution? Perhaps the information technology (I.T.) department can help. It’s where Mobil Oil and the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority turned for help.

It may be the world’s largest oil company, but Mobil Oil still faces stiff competition in the marketplace every day. Gas is pretty much a commodity product. It sells on price. To differentiate itself — and to win the loyalty of customers — Mobil turned to its I.T. department. The result: Speedpass — a wireless system that cuts down on the time customers spend at the pumps.

The Speedpass is a miniature radio device — in this case either a key chain or a windshield-mounted unit — which identifies and authorizes the account of the person purchasing the gas. To fill up, a customer simply waves his key chain unit or just pulls up to the pump. No more punching buttons or running inside to pay. It’s fast and it’s easy, and that’s what people want today. Mobil makes Speedpass available to all customers for free if they fill out an application.

Although it may only shave 45 seconds off the gas station experience, when it’s cold outside or people are in a rush, every second counts. And customers have rewarded Mobil for this convenience with loyalty. Since Mobil launched a major expansion of Speedpass in July, over 2 million people have signed up. More than 3,500 Mobil stations are Speedpass-equipped. Speedpass can also be used in Mobil car washes.

Mobil will not say what its return on Speedpass is, but a spokesperson says customers are pleased and loyalty couldn’t be higher.

The success of Speedpass has convinced Mobil to explore further areas of development for this technology, such as routine service checks and oil changes.

The New York MTA faced a different dilemma. While the MTA doesn’t have to deal with competition, it had a huge problem with commuters holding up traffic at New York area bridges and tunnels. With lines growing long, frustrated commuters have come to take out their anger on tollbooth operators. The MTA needed a way to address congestion — and indirectly — to improve quality of life in the metropolitan area while cutting down on the cost of collecting the fare. The solution was another I.T.-inspired gadget — the E-Zpass.

Introduced about a year ago, the E-Zpass is a small box that is placed on the windshield behind the rearview mirror. At the tollbooths, there are designated E-ZPass lanes; only those with the box may enter, as there is no toll collector to accept money. As the car pulls into the tollbooth, the E-ZPass in the car communicates with the tollbooth and the toll is deducted from the account that is imprinted in the box.

There is no stopping, no money changing hands and, typically, no waiting. A trip that may have taken an hour with dollar bills and tokens, through the E-Zpass lane today takes minutes, making for less congestion and happier commuters — a big plus for the MTA.

While systems like E-Zpass are not inexpensive by any means, the benefits are great. If you are stuck for a way to give customers what they want today, ask the I.T. department — perhaps they can help.

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