E-Business: An Investment in Success
From The Texas Roundup, newsletter of the Texas Parking Association
Published: December 17, 2008
There are many benefits to investing in e-business including a higher level of customer service without
an increase in staff. Customers can do business at the time which is most convenient for them; they
are not restricted to our office hours. Automated processes also make for quicker turnaround time
since online payments, appeals, and purchases are posted immediately. According to Associate
Director Peter Lange, “You should start by implementing a good web site with up-to-date information.
The first e-service should be citation payment.” The introduction of online citation payments allows the
department to work through any obstacles of taking credit cards online before launching other
services. Citations are easy to process and involve very few business rules. The next recommended
service is online appeals. “This goes along with citation payments and lets you work the kinks out of
logging in customers to your e-business site”, suggests Lange.
This service allows the customer to either pay the citation or appeal. The next step suggested is the
addition of an easy permit sale such as the summer or commuter permit. This easy sale uses the
credit card payment process that was put in place for citations and the log in process utilized for
appeals. The log in process pulls all pertinent data on the customer which makes the transaction
easier, faster and more accurate because the customer is not typing the information into the system.
Such an example is the New Student Conference permit, whereby over 5000 students log in and print
a permit to use for their conference parking. No mailing of permits is required and students may log
back in should they forget to print and then reprint the permit for display on their dashboard. These eservices
are combined into one product named “My Parking Account”. This personalized product
serves as one-stop-shopping for the customer when paying citations, making appeals, buying a permit,
sending correspondence to the department, and even requesting payroll deductions. Contact
information is automatically updated through the University’s student information system and the
human resources system.
Customer Assistance, under the management of Debbie Hoffmann, has also experienced greater job
satisfaction for the frontline staff as a result of an increase in e-business.
“Their role becomes expanded to more than simply cashiering – they are now able to focus their
attention on more complex situations and are empowered to make decisions to solve issues for these
customers” explains Hoffmann. The customer assistance staff are now able to take on a wider span of
responsibilities as a result of more down time on the front line. Moving the annual permit registration
process to the web is another example of reducing the demand on personnel while increasing the level
of customer service. Over 36,000 permits are automatically processed by Transportation Services and
fulfilled by Weldon Williams and Lick (WW&L) within a 2 week period each year. “Our customers are
provided more time to complete the process, offered more options, and receive greater service than
ever before”, says Hoffmann.