'Where's my ride?': Using AI to enhance transport management

Posted by Nuvizz Support

As anyone familiar with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant already knows, simple verbal commands add an extraordinary level of convenience to our everyday lives. These digital assistants can tell us the weather, read the news, order dinner, play music and much more thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. It raises the question: What if transportation management brokers harnessed this capability to improve the customer experience and lower overhead at the same time?

For example, let’s say a non-emergency-medical-transport (NEMT) passenger is waiting to be picked up for a doctor’s appointment and she wants to know where her ride is. Instead of trying to get on the phone with the company that brokered the trip, she can get a response by verbally asking “Where’s my ride?” As quickly as Siri or Alexa might show her results to “What’s the weather?” that passenger can get a real-time response with a current location and an estimated time of arrival.

That’s the power of AI in Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). The combination of cognitive science, speech recognition and machine learning enables transportation brokers and providers alike to leverage bots that can answer simple questions such as, “Where’s my ride?” or even, “Schedule a ride for this Friday at 2 p.m.” With AI-based features, customers have unprecedented speed and accuracy at their fingertips.

Case in point, here are the top three ways to enhance the rider experience with bots:

1. Real-time driver location, aka, ‘Where’s my ride?’

In nearly any type of transport management, a transportation provider and/or broker establishes a competitive advantage by exhibiting superior customer service. This doesn’t just mean being responsive to riders when they want to know where their driver is; they also need to accommodate communication over the passenger’s preferred digital channel. Your organization might not have a high-volume contact center at its disposal – but with bots, it doesn’t need one.

A digital MaaS solution leverages bots that can respond to queries over multiple channels, including:
– Text message.
– Facebook.
– Email.
– Interactive voice response (IVR).

For brokers, offering this level of convenience increases the probability that a certain rider will choose its service again. For providers, showcasing a higher caliber of customers service increases the chances of being selected by brokers to take on new business. And for customers, it’s a more pleasant trip experience.That’s a win-win-win.

2. Bot-based trip management

Speaking of customer service, the cost of commissioning a contact center service to answer “Where’s my ride?” queries, but also to help book trips and, if necessary, cancel them, add up fast. According to IBM estimates, businesses spend $1.3 billion every year on responding to an estimated 265 billion customer calls. The kicker is that 80 percent of these queries are simple enough in nature to be handled by a chatbot. Whether you’re handling customer service calls in house or outsourcing them to a third-party provider, it’s quite possible you’re spending more time and money than necessary on service calls, when you could just use bots.

With MaaS, passengers can make initial trip requests using the same channels referenced above. They can create new trips, update times for already created trips, find out where their driver is, add a stop on a current trip and cancel a trip without requiring any human interaction.

The result is higher-quality service at a lower cost to your organization.Bots make it easy to get trip updates and ETAs with just a few touches of a screen.

NEMT blog
Bots make it easy to get trip updates and ETAs with just a few touches of a screen.

3. Will-call activation

In NEMT, it used to take up to an hour to fulfill a request for a return trip from an appointment. This is primarily because there were too many manual processes involved in dispatching a driver to the patient’s location. But with bots at the helm, return trips can be orchestrated in 5 to 10 minutes. This is possible for several reasons:

– Riders can make a return-trip request within seconds over a channel of their choosing.
– A digital MaaS platform centralizes driver management, so it’s always clear whose available and nearest to the passenger pickup point.

That’s not all. MaaS also makes it easy for drivers to record the exact time that a trip begins. This means historic customer information is saved so the platform can predict if certain NEMT passengers wrap up their visits faster or slower than others. Over time, this information can be helpful to brokers as they attempt to coordinate driver schedules and work around inconsistencies in dropoff and pickup times.

Better customer support starts with bots

The biggest challenge in modern transport management is customer support, and not just because it’s expensive for brokers and providers. Patients who lack a real-time view of their trip status are taking it on faith that someone is coming to get them and bring them wherever it is they need to be.

RydeBot, a central component of the WellRyde people movement platform, can eliminate that sense of uncertainty. At the same time, they also push the bulk of customer support overhead onto the patients since they can handle the vast majority of customer queries – whether it’s scheduling a new trip, learning the status of a trip in progress or activating a request for a return journey. And of course, WellRyde’s Rydebot is pre-configured to handle these types of requests through the rider’s preferred communication channel.

Accordingly, brokers and providers can focus their time, money and effort on finding new ways to enhance operational efficiency and deliver a winning customer experience for their riders.