For those of you from somewhere other than the great state of Texas, you may be unfamiliar with the concept of Tollways. Tollways are these amazing privatized roads that make a commute much more bearable, as long as you have a Tolltag. Because the roads are privatized, you are required to pay for the right to drive. A little more than 5 years ago, the process of obtaining a Tolltag was pretty much a nightmare. There was only one office for the whole metroplex, and it was located in an awkward stop near a downtown area. And their hours of operation? You guessed it, 9 am to 5 pm… prime business hours. Couple that with the downtown location and horrible online service, and you’ve got a bunch of unhappy customers. When you finally received your Tolltag, it was a clunky square plate to adhere to your window using some gooey-velcro adhesive that generally didn’t hold up to the Texas heat. All of this to say, I was dreading the experience with a Tolltag purchase.
However, I must retract all the negative feelings and battering the North Texas Tolltag Association after my recent experience with them. First, they’ve added a second building in a more central location for making the initial purchase of a Tolltag, and added centers all over the metroplex for bill pay and updating your account. The website has been re-designed to offer information about new toll roads and construction, payment options, and other helpful information in an easy-to-navigate layout. The website also mentioned that the hours of operation had been extended from 7 am to 7 pm, giving business people plenty of time to make the trip. I was further impressed as I drove along looking for my destination that a branded sign pointed to the NTTA building that was by hidden trees. I appreciated the directions, as I would have passed it completely were it not for the sign. When I walked in, a sign told me exactly how to proceed, which makes everyone’s job easier. The NTTA forms and office boast a clever new Marketing slogan, “Stop throwing money out the window”. This is clever for two reasons: 1) you save money by pre-paying for a Tolltag, as the cost per entrance/exit decreases, and 2) because previously you were having to fish quarters out of your purse to toss into the meters as you drove through. It’s a great slogan, perfect for encouraging the purchase of a Tolltag by helping people understand that it saves you both time and money. I filled out my form and dealt with a very nice customer service lady who explained the new features of the tag. Then, she hands me this beautiful package with sleek branding, account information, and NTTA contact information. The package was about the size of an old-school cd case, perfect for keeping it handy in the glove box of my car. Finally, she finished by giving me a thin 3″X3″ plastic tab with adhesive all over the back, to place under my rear-view mirror. No more struggling to keep my tag adhered to the window, and no more clunky distractions out of the corner of my eye. This new design also eliminated an internal problem for NTTA. For years, people wanted to just buy one tag, and then use it among several vehicles that didn’t travel the Tollway on the same day. Now, if you remove the tag from the windshield, it automatically de-activates it. This is also nice because you don’t have to worry about your tag being lost or stolen, but still being used by someone else. I told the lady that I loved the new streamlined process, and to pass along the compliment to her managers. It was an AWESOME experience. And to top it all off? I made the whole trip in about 15 minutes, from exiting my car to re-entering my car, only 15 minutes! I was so surprised and pleased with my experience that I went home and told my brother and his friend about it… and they both said they’d had an awesome experience as well. This solidified my resolve to write a post immediately, proving that people do recognize and recommend a good customer experience, even for the most mundane tasks.
I’ve talked about good customer service on this blog before, and I must say, the complete turn around by NTTA hits the nail on the head. They really listened to what their customers wanted: more convenience in purchase locations, account management, and in using the tag. They really listened to their staff and examined internal problems to offer solutions that would not disrupt the daily operations and use of the tag. I think a lot of other businesses can learn from the tactics employed by NTTA, and we can all stop dreading the horrible experience, as it no longer exists.