“Samsara is a game changer. It takes us to another level of providing service to our customers.”
Tracy Hodge-Raimer, Executive Vice President, Windy City Limousine
Windy City Limousine & Bus leverages Samsara to provide real-time location information to customers, keep passengers safe, and increase efficiency.
- Live Sharing links give customers visibility to their vehicle location, and helped reduce dispatch call volume by 30%.
- Dash cams capture video footage of harsh events and help improve driver safety.
- One consolidated platform increases efficiency, helping save 500 hours of internal phone communication monthly.
In 2006, a group of experienced executives in the passenger transit space banded together to start Windy City Limousine & Bus with the goal of building an organization with a “customer first” mentality. Today, the Chicago-based company is the sixth-largest passenger transit company in the US and the fastest-growing ground transportation company in the country. With more than 350 vehicles in their fleet and a strong customer focused mission, Windy City decided to partner with Samsara to provide a next-level customer experience.
“We really wanted to have a company with great customer service. Everything else came second,” said George Jacobs, CEO and Founder. “Whether it’s letting them know where their vehicle is without having to speak with the chauffeur, whether it’s keeping our over-the-road chauffeurs safe — Samsara has helped us get there.”
Empowering employees and customers with real-time information
Windy City’s dispatch department was spending a lot of time on the phone with customers inquiring about vehicle location. Beyond fielding calls regarding one-off car service jobs, the team also handled recurring calls for group events and regular corporate shuttle routes. During peak commute hours, passengers for these corporate shuttles would often call every 10 minutes to check on the arrival time for the next shuttle.
Before Samsara, Windy City had GPS tracking on their vehicles but regularly struggled with data accuracy. Whenever a customer called to ask about their vehicle’s location, the team had to call or text chauffeurs directly to get up-to-date information.
“Ironically, we were actually delaying the vehicle by asking chauffeurs where they were,” said Jerold Bean, VP of Events and Meetings. To safely answer the phone, chauffeurs needed to stop driving and pull over on the side of the road. “Once you tell the customer, ‘I have to call you back,’ you’ve already slowed down the process. In the ten minutes it would take us to find out where the vehicle was and get back to the customer, we risked the vehicle pulling up to them in the process.”
With Samsara’s real-time data, the dispatch team is now able to log into their dashboard, locate each vehicle in seconds, and quickly report a location or estimated arrival time to the customer while they’re on the phone.
“It was single-handedly one of the best decisions to move to Samsara,” said Kathy Kahne, President of Windy City.
“The tolerance for waiting has changed. We have to invest in things that will give that instant information to our customers,” said Bean. “Because of the Samsara dashboard, our customer service agents can avoid transferring calls to dispatch.”
Windy City was able to achieve a 30% decrease in dispatch call volume, freeing up dispatch resources for other tasks. To provide additional visibility for their customers, Windy City leveraged Samsara’s Live Sharing capability to send unique links to customers with live location and ETA information.
Timing can make or break a customer experience, especially for companies that largely manage event-based itineraries. Windy City is intimately familiar with their customers’ businesses and unique challenges. Whether it’s a daily shuttle, corporate VIP car service, or buses taking fans to college football games, Bean has seen how a tool like Live Sharing has revolutionized the way they communicate with customers.
“We’ve been able to go a step further and avoid that initial phone call altogether,” said Bean. “Samsara has given us the tools to empower our customers with real-time information.”
Windy City now proactively uses Live Sharing as a differentiator to gain a competitive advantage in the bidding process, and supplies unique links to customers while working out the details together prior to the trip.
Keeping customers safe with dash cams and data-driven driver coaching
Passenger safety is critical to Windy City’s mission to provide high-touch customer service. As part of their focus on safety, the company utilizes a rigorous training process for new chauffeurs before they even begin driving. When employees are out on the road, Windy City leverages Samsara data to fuel their safety coaching program and provide targeted feedback based on actual driving behavior.
The team’s top priority for every trip is for passengers to arrive at their destination safely. In fact, many customers cite a commitment to safety as a big factor in their decision to choose Windy City.
“I am blown away by how educated our customers are about safety,” said Bean. “All the time I hear, ‘We checked you guys out and we see that your scores are good.’”
Prior to Samsara, Fleet and Compliance Manager Jamie Smith relied on customer feedback or triggered events from their dash cam system to monitor safety. The majority of his job focused on reacting to events that had already occurred—sometimes waiting 7-10 days to receive video footage of a particular incident. Now, Smith can access video footage of harsh driving events instantly in his Samsara dashboard, and knows that if he needs additional video footage, he’ll receive them within minutes of his request.
This fast turnaround gives Smith and the chauffeurs an opportunity to address issues as they happen and coach on specific instances quickly instead of waiting for a police citation or customer complaint.
“Samsara is helping us be proactive instead of being reactive,” said Kahne. “We have the tools to drill down and make it concrete with examples that we can give to chauffeurs. It’s made everyone a lot more aware.”
Samsara has enhanced Windy City’s coaching program with detailed contextual information, and gives them the ability to break an incident down into sections. When coaching drivers, the team leverages video footage from Samsara HD dash cams along with the chauffeur's driving behavior — incident graphs with accelerator and brake pedal information — right in the Samsara dashboard to provide more detail during the session.
“Samsara gives us the ability to elaborate on our coaching,” said Ryan Kaczmarski, Director of IT at Windy City. “There’s trust in the data, and we know what we need to fix and improve on from a customer standpoint and a safety standpoint.”
Beyond event-based coaching, Smith has seen how transparency around performance has positively influenced the safety culture at Windy City. After enabling gamification in the Driver app, Smith saw his chauffeurs reach out to ask how they can change their driving behavior to improve their safety score ranking.
“It literally changed the way our chauffeurs approached what they do,” Smith said. “It’s cool to see people want to extend their professionalism, training, and knowledge so that they can do their jobs better. And that’s inspiring.”
Windy City’s safety efforts can also be seen in their CSA scores. Smith said that most of the individual scores for each of the FMCSA’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories have been cut in half, some by almost 75%.
“It’s amazing,” said Smith. “We’ve always cared about safety and we had good safety scores. With Samsara, we’ve gone from good to great.”
Reducing downtime through proactive maintenance
Another aspect of providing excellent customer service involves ensuring vehicles are functioning at peak performance. Nobody wants a limo or bus breakdown en route to a customer, or while on a trip.
“Customer service is so important to us,” said Jacobs. “Our promise to our customers is: if we have an issue, we will fix it right now.”
Windy City’s dispatch and maintenance departments are able to leverage live engine diagnostics and fault code alerts from Samsara. This information helps them keep on top of potential problems, diagnose issues faster, and make informed decisions on the best solution to resolve the issue or recover the vehicle.
“If there is a vehicle breakdown or a vehicle is disabled, we’re able to log in and see what kind of engine codes are being thrown up,” said Kaczmarski. “They’re able to call the chauffeur and not ask too many questions because they already know the answers.”
What used to take 30-45 minutes on the phone can now be communicated in one to two minutes, and these savings add up: Windy City has eliminated 500 hours of internal phone communication monthly.
“The efficiency we have had with Samsara is going to have an immense effect on the company overall,” said Executive Vice President Tracy Hodge-Raimer. “Now we have all of these hours that we can reinvest into customer service and other parts of the company.”
Putting the focus on customers
Improvements in Windy City’s fleet operations have positive internal implications that ultimately benefit their customers.
Real-time visibility into vehicle location and the ability to share unique links empowers customers with the information they need, when they want it. Driver behavior data and dash cam video give credibility to their safety coaching program, increases their effectiveness, and elevates the overall safety of passengers. Reducing maintenance response time leads to increased vehicle uptime, which translates to more availability for customers and a smoother journey.
“Samsara is a game changer. It takes us to another level of providing service to our customers,” said Hodge-Raimer.