Accessible, easy and affordable - simple objectives perhaps for Auckland Transport, when designing a public transport system suitable for more than 1.6 million residents.
Yet the execution of such a mission statement is fraught with complexities and roadblocks, both literally and figuratively in a city bursting at the seams.
Especially for visually impaired customers, who struggled to extract the benefits of an AT HOP card, an electronic fare payment card designed to simplify travel across Auckland.
Despite the advantages, visually impaired customers were challenged when reading the digital balance displays on buses and trains.
Logging onto and using the AT HOP online portal could also be difficult because the content was not optimised for screen-readers.
As a result, visually impaired users travelling within New Zealand’s largest city were left unsure of how much money was on their card, or if they’d tagged on or off correctly - this could lead to mis-tags or being caught out with low AT HOP balances.
To overcome such challenges, Auckland Transport turned to Qrious, the Spark-owned data and analytics specialist.
Already users of the Qrious UbiQuity marketing automation platform, the council-controlled organisation asked the provider to develop an automated programme that would help accessible customers easily stay on top of their AT HOP balances and journeys.
“Visually impaired AT HOP customers need to access accurate and relevant information about their accounts, so we created an automated text and email series to ensure that these customers get the information they need in a way that works for them,” explained Nathalie Morris, CEO of Qrious.
According to Morris, Qrious worked closely with AT HOP to create a “centralised and secure database” to send user and travel information to the UbiQuity platform.
The teams then developed accessible email and TXT templates using "clear, scripted language" that would make sense when read out loud by a screen reader.
“Customers can choose how and when they receive these AT HOP updates, and know that, thanks to the logic built into the communications templates, each message they receive is unique and fully personalised to their account,” Morris added.
The new system is now “up and running”, backed by strong feedback from the public.
“This project was a huge challenge for us, not just in terms of working through the data, but also ensuring the email templates and language use was right,” added Kash Chitnis, campaign manager at AT HOP.
“The team at Qrious were great at working through these challenges with us, asking the right questions to get the right results. And the customers are just thrilled with it.”