The ‘Human Touch’ is still the most effective way!
We have two new bridges in Louisville, Kentucky that cross the Ohio River and connect us to our Northern friends, and beyond. Thing is, with new bridges, you must pay for them. The bill goes to a combination of federal monies, local schemers in our state capitol and folks like you and me.
One of the ways that folks like you and me pay for the bridge is with ‘tolls.’
It used to be that you paid the toll by stopping at a booth on one end of the bridge and gave a nice person some quarters or you just threw them in the funnel. Well, today they have figured out how to use that old friend of customer service, technology, to get the tolls paid. Now they have a doodad on the bridge that talks to your license plate, or some piece of your car, and automatically bills you. Finally, a way to use technology to aid and comfort the customer. You don’t have to stop at the toll booth anymore and give the quarters to the freezing, or melting, person in the booth.
Not so fast………
I traveled across our new bridges a couple of times—-mostly just to see what these marvelous, and they ARE marvelous, new structures look like. When I have gone across the Mason-Dixon Line to Indiana I am automatically billed by the doodad seeing my license plate.
What a great deal! I don’t have to stop at the toll booth and just look at all the time this new technology is saving me.
Not so fast………………..
I just had a feeling this was all too good to be true. And, I was right. A few weeks after my first trip over the new bridges I get an invoice from River-Link, which I guess is the billing network for bridges because River-Link billing is in Austin, Texas, not Kentucky. I pay the bill. One month later I get a SECOND TOLL NOTICE written in that favorite color of late payment—–RED.
Problem is, I already paid the bill so everything will be ok as all I have to do is call them.
Not so fast…………………………
You cannot call them. The phone tree options do not include anything like “for all other inquiries, please hold”. They only have options for the things they WANT you to call for. NO OPTIONS for problems. I cannot handle these kinds of phone traps so I find magic on my red SECOND TOLL NOTICE. AN ADDRESS!!!!! They have an office I can drive to!!!!! Guess where it is? ACROSS THE BRIDGE!!!!! Now they’ve got me. I must keep building up bridge charges in order to pay the bill.
I drive to the offices of River-Link and take my number 96 and sit down with all the other crazed bridge violators. It looks and feels like a police lineup for bridge offenders. When I get there and pull number 96 they are on number 71 so I steady myself for a bloodbath.
Not so fast……………………..
They call my number and I report to a gentleman with ‘Chris’ emblemized on his shirt. Chris checks the records on his bridge computer, looks up at me and says “sorry sir, this was a glitz. Sorry for the trouble, I have taken care of all the charges, including the late fee AND the two trips across the bridge you have not been charged for yet.”
Even if the system is lousy
Even if the system is not well thought out
Even if the system has glitzes
Even if you have to drive to a rival state to fix things
If you get a smile and warm, considerate behavior, it’s as good as a booth