SouthWest Transit Gets Face-to-Face with Customer Service Kiosks

If the vast majority of your customers used your service the same way, every day, no matter what, you’d be tempted to rest on your laurels. But that’s not how SouthWest Transit is built. The transit system was created in 1986 when three southwest Minneapolis suburbs decided they needed better service for their tax dollars and opted out of Metro Transit. Since then, SouthWest Transit has consistently leveraged advancements in technology to be a national model for what public transportation can be. Their new video-chat customer service kiosks are just the latest way the agency is living out its motto: “Expect the Best.”

Why Video Chat?

While most of SouthWest Transit’s ridership comes out of its main hub, they have smaller satellite stations that are each staffed one morning per week. Of course the lobbies are outfitted with a customer service phone, but CEO Len Simich knew they could do better. A trip to the bank gave him an idea for how.

Everybody has used an ATM, but how about an ITM? Interactive teller machines are gaining popularity, especially in less populated areas. With the touch of a button, you can be face-to-face with a real, live person, even if the bank you’re at isn’t staffed.

A well-placed webcam and VoIP handset transform an interactive kiosk into a video-chat kiosk. Video-chat kiosks are popping up in all kinds of retail spaces, blending our digital and physical worlds. They are a cost-effective way to make a personal connection with your customers.

Live Chat Options

SWT Video Chat Customer Service KiosksSouthWest Transit wanted customer service kiosks that give their riders lots of options for how to connect and get their needs met. Not everyone is comfortable with video chatting, and for some questions, a simple text chat will do. But public transit newcomers appreciate a friendly face guiding them through the system. SouthWest Transit was looking for a versatile kiosk solution to give every type of rider a better overall customer service experience.

IT Manager Jason Kirsch found Advanced Kiosks online. He liked the layout, features and price of our Freestanding Kiosk. Advanced Kiosks engineers recommended integrating the customer communication platform Acquire.  Acquire allows SouthWest Transit’s customer service team to screen share and co-browse. Reps can see exactly what riders are seeing, help them navigate the website, and even show them how to read maps and schedules.

SouthWest Transit’s web design firm customized user interfaces for each of the three stations outfitted with customer service kiosks. A simple touchscreen menu allows users to choose from video, audio or text chat. The Acquire platform embeds easily into web pages and will be incorporated into SouthWest Transit’s new mobile app.

Beyond Chatting

Video-chat kiosks have taken Southwest Transit’s customer service to the next level. These machines also offer all the form, function and flexibility of any Advanced Kiosks product. For this project they opted for basic black enclosures and then had the company that wraps their buses do full graphic wraps for the kiosks. These graphics can be changed out for rebranding at any time.

SouthWest Transit doesn’t just use their customer service kiosks for live chatting. The kiosks keep riders updated on route alerts (especially important this time of year), advertise special events, and take SouthWest Prime reservations. SW Prime is a popular, low-cost ride share program that provides last-mile service on demand.

Our pre-installed Zamok Kiosk Software Suite makes updating kiosk content easy and efficient. “We push updates from one place and they automatically populate everywhere. It’s a one-stop shop,” Jason raves. “We pretty much set it and forget it. Zamok is so intuitive, we haven’t had to play with it at all.”

We enjoyed partnering with SouthWest Transit to integrate Acquire-enabled live chat into their new customer service kiosks. If you have a revolutionary idea for improving customer outreach, give us a call. Advanced Kiosks engineers love to innovate!


Written by Amy Robison, contributing author

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