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Coggeshall is a small town based in Essex, England and is home to approximately 4,000 residents. Located approximately 100km away from the center of London, it houses many working class residents who commute to and from London on a daily basis. As public transport is a necessity for the majority of commuters, the Coggeshall Parish Council prides itself in being well serviced by public transport to see to the needs of its residents.
One such service is the Coggeshall Community Bus service which started running in 1982 as the first community bus scheme to be launched in Essex. This service operates on a non-profit basis and is run solely by volunteers. According to operations director, David Turner, the Coggeshall Community Bus provides an invaluable transport link in and around Coggeshall as well as to and from the Kelvedon Train Station which is the nearest station to the town.
Due to the time sensitive nature of public transport, it is imperative that the Coggeshall Community Bus remains a trusted and reliable form of transport for commuters. With this in mind, Turner decided that the best way to ensure this reliability was to keep customers informed of any delays, schedule changes or timetable updates to the bus schedule. After considering email, Facebook and Twitter as notification channels, Turner decided on SMS as the preferred communication tool. The other channels required that each customer either have an account registered or an app installed onto their mobile device. SMS was already available and accessible on all mobile phones and was not dependent on any third-party communication service.
Turner started using BulkSMS.com in 2007 by integrating the SMS API script into the Coggeshall Community Bus website. This integration allowed for customers to register, de-register or change their mobile numbers on the Community Bus website.
The customer contact information is then automatically updated on the BulkSMS Web to SMS platform and Turner is able to send SMS messages to the entire contact list as and when there are any schedule changes. Turner also makes use of the Mobile to Group feature in order to send SMS messages to the predetermined contact list via his mobile phone when he is away from his desktop or has limited access to the internet.
“We currently have 340 commuters on our contact list, so the ability to send a message to this number of contacts in a few minutes is absolutely priceless. The beauty of this SMS solution is that everyone, by default, has SMS setup on their phone. By simply requesting mobile phone numbers, we have a bulletproof method of contacting our regular commuters.” Says Turner
When asked whether or not SMS has improved their customer satisfaction levels, Turner insisted that their customers are constantly impressed at the level of contact that SMS allows between themselves and the Community Bus Service volunteers “Our community members have complete confidence that they will remain informed when faced with any service interruptions or alterations.” Says Turner
According to Dr. Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com “SMS remains a trusted and ubiquitous channel for communication. It is encouraging to see how the Coggeshall Community Bus service has integrated SMS into their communication systems due to the simplicity, reliability and immediacy that SMS messaging offers in alerting commuters to changes in the bus schedule.”