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77 cies are likely to consider 511 as a marginal component of their 4.2 Recommendations customer information strategy. Recommendations are included in three main categories. The first category presents the 511 decision-making guidance Implications of Telephone Information for transit agencies that is the primary product of this study. Strategies of Non-Transit Organizations The second category of recommendations pertains to transit Not unexpectedly, it was found that, as in the transit agencies' telephone customer information strategies overall, industry, the complexity and sophistication of the telephone focusing on the use of advanced technologies and techniques. information strategies of non-transit organizations varies The third category presents recommendations for implement- significantly according to the size of the organization and their ing the results of the study. call volume. Large organizations with high call volumes gener- ally use more technology and make greater utilization of a wider 4.2.1 Guidance for Determining range of performance measures in managing their operations. a Specific 511 Strategy Also somewhat expectedly, it was found that overall (espe- cially for large organizations), non-transit organizations gen- Overall, the decision of whether, and to what extent, a tran- erally take greater advantage of a larger number of advanced sit agency will participate in their region's 511 telephone in- technologies than do transit agencies. That is partly because, formation system is not one that can, or should, be made by in comparison to transit organizations, some companies have the transit agency alone. As elaborated in the discussion that follows, the ultimate decision will take into account a number More resources to spend on customer information, of factors pertaining both to the transit system and the 511 Greater senior management support for technology in- system. Therefore, the most fundamental recommendation vestments, is that transit agency consideration of 511 should be con- Greater awareness of the latest call center technology and ducted within the context of a dialog with the 511 system practices, and administrator. Specific issues and considerations to be included More experience with successfully adopting new tech- within that dialogue are noted in the discussion that follows. nologies. The guidance presented in this section all pertains only to decisions regarding 511 telephone systems. Although this study Indeed, the recently completed TCRP Project J-09 Task 12 did not focus on 511 websites, our research suggests that 511 provides ample evidence of the lagging technology adoption administrators and transit agencies have approached web- and success of many transit agencies compared to their private- site decisions and telephone decisions very differently. This sector counterparts. (63) guidance also assumes that the 511 system in question does The differences between transit and non-transit call center not have a live operator. Full automation--that is, no live sophistication may also reflect, to some extent, differences in operator--was one of the original defining attributes of the 511 how organizations view customers and the use of technology concept. Only 2 of the 42 operational 511 systems in the United to assist them. Overall, although both transit and non-transit States have operators. organizations are increasingly turning to technology to try to In their guidance, the 511 Deployment Coalition identifies automate as many customer information requests as possible, the two potential categories of transit participation in 511 as transit agencies seem to use technology somewhat less inten- (1) minimum information (referred to in the remainder of sively. This may be related to the previous factors (funding, this discussion as basic information) and (2) additional infor- agency support, etc.), or it may be that transit agencies are mation. The results of this study indicate that the considera- even more concerned about customer satisfaction, and poten- tions and options related to transit 511 participation do align tial adverse customer reactions to being denied easy access to closely with these two distinct categories and, therefore, the a live operator than are non-transit organizations. guidance that follows is organized around them. Overall, findings in this area hold no real implication on transit 511 activities per se. That is because, as described ear- General Recommendations on the lier in this chapter, technology and other aspects of call cen- Applicability of Basic and Additional ter sophistication are not a requirement for 511 success or Transit Information on 511 correlated with individual transit agencies' 511 decisions. However, these findings suggest that many transit agencies According to the results of this study, as summarized in may benefit from greater utilization of technologies and more Figure 10 and consistent with the 511 Deployment Coali- sophisticated performance metrics in their telephone cus- tion perspective reflected in their guidance, most transit tomer service operations. agencies will probably derive sufficient benefit to warrant