Beyond Transit: Three Key Takeaways from LA Metro’s Cloud Deployment

A strategic approach turned LA’s transit cards into a wide range of uses through ‘transit accounts’ and opened up many new benefits for customers.

by TOMMIE FERN, SALESFORCE / March 21, 2019
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You may have seen a recent case study the Salesforce team published on LA Metro (if you haven’t, you should check it out – Metro’s story is pretty ingenious).

If you’re not familiar, LA Metro is one of 27 transit systems moving LA County's 10 million people. Their team layered Salesforce on top of their physical IT infrastructure in order to enable TAP cards – LA’s regional transit card – to interface with more modern transportation services (like Metro Bike Share, electric car charging stations, toll road payment system). Think of it as similar to, say, an EBT card working as a form of payment at any number of grocery stores. 

This strategic approach turned LA’s transit cards into a wide range of uses through ‘transit accounts’ and opened up many new benefits for customers. 

Here are my three key takeaways from Metro’s leadership:

1. LA Metro embraced change

While many industries have seen a fair amount of disruption over the recent years (membership clubs like Stitch Fix in the retail space, people-to-people digital wallets like Venmo in banking) perhaps no industry was redefined as much as transportation. Ride-sharing took the industry by storm, and is poised to do so again with expansions into areas like food delivery, autonomous vehicle testing, and more. 

Instead of being taken aback by this phenomenon, or doubling down on a dated business model, LA Metro adapted. They used the cloud to map in these newer services, effectively expanding the service portfolio (without the cost of adding extra routes, staff, train cars, buses, etc.) and delivering a better customer experience (check out the loyalty program Metro launched as a result of this work). 

This is the kind of route more organizations should take when the next smartphone-ready, app-based business model starts to surface – find an element of flexibility, and apply it in a way that keeps the mission relevant. 

2. LA Metro demonstrates what it really means to be customer-centric

In working with us on this case study, LA Metro spoke a bit about the “first and last mile” – the distance between someone’s home and the transit station, transit station to final destination. This was a big driver behind mapping in Bike Share services; how to make the first and last mile easier. 

The traditional transit organization is concerned about its on-time performance, its cleanliness, its overall service. But with this mentality, LA Metro is equally as concerned about the journey. It’s thinking about the fact that riders interact with transit services regionally, not system by system, and making decisions accordingly. 

Metro wasn’t required to find a way to integrate other modes of transportation; there is no state mandate or budget line item. But the team knew that by internalizing a regional, customer-first mentality, they would be better equipped to provide the kind of services that attract customers off the highways (a real thing, in LA, as I am sure you know) and into public transit. They knew they would be better equipped to – again – keep the mission relevant. 

3. LA Metro kept it simple with the cloud

To enable the TAP card to interface with all these additional services, LA Metro could have stood up a new server for each and every system to which it wanted to connect. But instead, the team took a cloud-based approach, using API-connectivity to integrate with any app, data source, or device.

This allowed Metro to start anywhere – stand up a connection like the Bike Share program, see how it goes, (they recorded 1,000 new Bike Share customers on day one, by the way), and then layer on new capabilities that help the team grow without sacrificing the ability to scale. 

Check out their cloud transformation:

That’s a quick preview from the popular webinar which breaks down this model. Tune in here for more insight.

The Customer Success Platform for Government

The Salesforce Customer Success Platform is how we tie together solutions like the ones LA Metro called upon in it’s model: Marketing Cloud (social listening, email campaigns, and more) Service Cloud, (contact center and case management), and our Platform services (app dev, advanced analytics) to connect every touchpoint which employees and / or customers might encounter in their day-to-day. Learn more in our upcoming webinar.

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About the Author

Tommie Fern is the Area Vice President, State and Local Government for the Public Sector Business Unit at Salesforce. He has developed his expertise in cloud sales, enterprise software, government, and CRM by working with departments and agencies on mission=critical, digital transformation projects. Prior to joining Salesforce, Tommie served as Vice President Sales, U. S. State and Local Government Cloud Applications at Oracle. He has a BBA focused in Marketing-Sales from Morehead State University.

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