January Issue

Mobile App Eases Anxiety of Stranded Motorists

Car crisis? Agero's Roadside Connect system lets customers know where the tow truck is and when it will arrive

Customer service being stuck on the side of the road with your car broken down is no fun. And waiting for a tow truck can be more frustrating than waiting for the cable guy.

Agero, a company that provides roadside assistance and other automotive services, is trying to take the guesswork out of when help will arrive. "Consumer expectations are evolving, and [services like] Uber have changed the landscape," says Jeff Blecher, senior vice president of strategy at Agero. "We said, 'There's a better solution here.'" Agero's Roadside Connect system aims to make roadside assistance easier for all parties involved: stranded drivers, tow truck companies and Agero employees who dispatch the service trucks.

If a driver is having car trouble, he can call Agero, use OnStar-like services or file a request through the Roadside Connect mobile app. Agero's contact center then assigns an available and nearby truck best suited for the specific problem, such as a car accident, flat tire or dead battery. The tow truck company can view the alert, which is tagged by location, vehicle type and problem type, and send out a truck for service.

While waiting, the stranded driver can use the mobile app to track the truck's whereabouts on a map in real time. "Seeing that in real time reduces their anxiety level in a stressful situation," says Blecher.

Agero sends a text message notifying the stranded driver when the service truck is 10 minutes away. Then the mobile app uses geofencing technology to detect when the tow truck arrives, and shows Agero employees that help is on scene.

It's an example of a business "embracing location-based services to improve customer experience," says Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski. "It provides [consumers] with peace of mind."

Since the launch of Roadside Connect, which won a 2014 CIO 100 award, Agero has improved the location accuracy for tow trucks by 90 percent through the use of GPS and has reduced the customer wait time by eight minutes.

In mid-November, Agero enhanced the system with predictive analytics about storms that could affect local driving conditions. This helps Agero anticipate higher call volumes and respond faster to customer requests for assistance.

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