One consistent component in all tolling environments, no matter what type of system is used to capture the transactions, is the back office. Whether a tolling organization uses all-electronic tolling, open-road tolling, invoicing or violation noticing, the back office receives these transactions and must appropriately process each using the applicable business rules.
It serves as the customer interface for the entire tolling program. Both back-office systems and the operations business rules and staff must work effectively to assure the highest levels
of accuracy and customer service.
The one area paramount to attaining the required standard is quality management (QM). Unfortunately, some toll agencies choose not to implement QM programs. Some implementing these systems cut back on QM as demands rise and staffing levels become challenging. This causes QM to become a box to be checked rather than the integral cog in the operational wheel. A complete QM program needs to include more than just monitoring phone calls and spot-checking processed work. A thorough QM program needs to assure compliance in all areas including: contract management, customer contact reviews, image process auditing, transaction processing validations, continuous report validation and key indicator trending. Other areas such as ITOLS, transaction rejects, image automation levels and accuracy, invoicing accuracy, and department of motor vehicle statistics, are also often overlooked by a conventional quality assurance (QA) system.
A solid program needs to include both the control and assurance of quality. Quality control provides the monitoring, auditing and validations necessary to assure benchmarks are being met. QA provides a way to assure they maintain consistency as program rules and systems evolve over time. Many people assume the two are interchangeable when in fact are distinct parts of a good QM program.
The other critical element necessary in any QM program is timely and valuable reporting. As with any back-office system, the ability to manage that system is only as good as the reports used to control the program. Quality controls and assurance can only achieve the essential consistency if they produce the information needed to allow management to make the necessary adjustments. Quality reporting needs to show compliance levels during operational periods, as well as quality trends over time. Management needs to be able to see the performance against key benchmarks and whether it is heading in the right direction.
Having a consistent QM program with a centralized quality reporting system also allows for timely and accurate responses to outside inquiries about program accuracy and levels of customer service. When a tolling agency must respond to a legislator calling on behalf of a concerned customer, a timely, accurate and thorough response leads to greater program credibility. When implementing a system, ask yourself could your agency produce real-time reports showing the quality and accuracy levels of your program over extended periods of time? Or, will you be sorting through numerous Excel spreadsheets trying to figure out what your quality levels actually are?
J J Eden is director of tolling at Aecom