September 10, 2018

DCTA Revamps its Customer Service in the Heart of Cowboy Country

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DCTA in Denton, TX, operates 120 fixed-route vehicles on 22 routes across a service area of 200 sq. mi. Image: Benjamin Huttash.
September 10, 2018

DCTA Revamps its Customer Service in the Heart of Cowboy Country

September 10, 2018

DCTA Revamps its Customer Service in the Heart of Cowboy Country


DCTA provides service to Denton, TX, a mid-sized university town in the Greater Dallas area. In the past, the agency’s customer service team found their customer calls to be persistent and needlessly long. With Swiftly, DCTA has seen a marked decrease in call volume and a dramatic drop-off in call length.

By the numbers

  • Call volume has decreased 20% year over year due to their accurate feed and the Swiftly app
  • ‘Where’s the bus’ calls have decreased from 10 minutes to under 3 minutes year over year
  • Visibility of their network has increased from 30% to 100% of their fleet year over year

Cowboy country meets college quad

Denton, TX, is a city about as Texan as they come. Built around an old brick courthouse, named after a wild west pioneer, and host to one of the region’s most beloved rodeos, there’s no mistaking that Denton is in the heart of cowboy country.

But Denton is more than just boots and bolos. With almost 50,000 students enrolled at the two universities located within its city limits, Denton is also a by-the-book college town.

This leads to some pretty unique challenges for the team at Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA), the region’s public transit agency. Any disruptions to the customer experience are felt two-fold throughout the community.

‘We’re only as good as our tools’

That’s why keeping customers satisfied is especially important at DCTA. “Our number one goal here is to provide good customer service for our riders,” says Tammy Motteler, Director of Customer Programs at DCTA. “And just like anyone, we’re only as good as our tools.”

But for years, DCTA’s tools made it difficult to fully understand the whereabouts of the agency’s bus fleet, leading to confusion for locals and students alike.

Now with Swiftly, DCTA is providing clearer transit service to their community.

70% invisible with 10-minute delays

In the past, much of the time DCTA’s customer service team simply didn’t know where their vehicles were. Vehicle tracking devices were never installed on their University of North Texas (UNT) buses, which make up about 70% of DCTA’s system. “We just couldn’t see those vehicles,” Motteler says. “A huge portion of our university population depends on transportation. If a customer called looking for a vehicle, it was a real process trying to figure out where they were.”

It could take up to ten minutes to resolve simple ‘where’s the bus’ inquiries, if reps could resolve them at all. Students sometimes even missed classes because of DCTA’s lack of visibility.

A schedule set in stone

Beyond their customer service woes, DCTA had less control over their vehicle schedules than they wanted as well. With their routes so tightly connected to university class schedules, the planning and ops teams found it challenging to determine timepoints that would serve non-university riders while also keeping students arriving to classes on time. “UNT is the one that drives the schedule for a lot of our vehicles,” Motteler says. “So if there were a change in schedules, it was difficult to get something that worked for everybody.”

With these issues persisting for years, DCTA’s customer service team knew it was time to spur some change.

100% visibility and 5x increase in productivity

That’s why the team at DCTA is blazing new trails with the help of Swiftly. Swiftly has transformed the way DCTA handles customer service by giving the team control of their own data and delivering the most accurate real-time information possible.

“It used to take about 10 minutes to resolve ‘where’s the bus’ questions. Now we can help them out pretty much right away.”

With Swiftly, now the customer service team has an up-to-date understanding of every vehicle’s location in their fleet. Instead of location information available for only 30% of their fleet, dynamic maps now show 100% of DCTA’s vehicles. The length of calls has plunged as well with precise location information at DCTA’s disposal. “It used to take about 10 minutes to resolve ‘where’s the bus’ questions,” Motteler says. “Now we can help them out pretty much right away. We can just check the software and answer them in about two or three minutes.”

DCTA has also seen a 20% dip in call volume since they implemented Swiftly. With the Swiftly app, riders can answer their own questions before they need the help of customer service.

Flexible schedules on the horizon

DCTA can now quickly and easily review any on-time performance issues that might be consistently coming up as well. Swiftly’s GPS playback feature allows the team to understand exactly where along their routes scheduling issues are occurring. And while they haven’t conducted any in-depth analyses yet, they hope to use Swiftly to support the schedule building process for upcoming semesters.

Riding off into the sunset with Swiftly

With these upgrades, Motteler is dead-set on improving the customer experience in her corner of the Lone Star State.

Swiftly increased the visibility we have and therefore our level of customer service,” she says. “It’s really important for us to provide for the customer. That’s what we do. And Swiftly helps us do that.”

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