Roadside assistance is a service that assists motorists (and cyclists) whose vehicles have experienced mechanical failure leaving them stranded. The service coverage may include jump-starting, battery replacement, unlocking, repairing, re-fuelling, flat tire changing, pulling out a stuck vehicle, or the last resort of towing the vehicle to another location.
Currently there are many roadside assistance providers and levels of options available. Some of these may better suit your travelling lifestyle than others, so do your homework. Smartphone technology is being used to improve access to roadside assistance since the service is generally needed from the side of the road, possibly in stressful emergency situations, and perhaps in remote areas.
Several benefits of applying mobile app technology to roadside assistance are;
• a subscriber doesn’t need to hunt for the service agent phone number,
• your contact and car detail information is already stored in the app,
• you can provide a GPS location to the service agent, and
• back and forth communication with the agent is made possible.
Depending on the roadside assistance provider you use, the technological advancements can differ amongst them. This article describes some of the roadside assistance smartphone options available and explains how the Windshieldink mobile app can play an added role in helping roadside assistance providers enhance service to their customers.
Here are some of the current ways of acquiring roadside assistance coverage.
Automatic Coverage is provided by many car manufacturers and certain insurance companies. Some of the coverage plans provide mobile app solutions. For example, smartphone apps are available from manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Subaru, Volvo, Toyota, and Mazda. Insurance providers such as RBC and Desjardins also combine roadside assistance with mobile app technology. There are many others out there so be sure to check with your car dealership or insurance company to see what is already available to you.
Subscription Based Coverage is provided by a third party by which you purchase and pay a monthly membership fee. These can include plans from such providers as the Canadian Automobile Association, AAA, AXA, Canadian Tire and Costco. Smartphone apps are provided by CAA and AXA, however Canadian Tire and Costco do not. In the latter companies a person must call their 1-800 phone number and describe the car issue and breakdown location to the call centre.
Pay as You Go apps also exist whereby you don’t need to subscribe to a prepaid or monthly plan but can use the app to access independent roadside assistance agents. You simply pay for the on-demand service. New apps working in this domain include Urgent.ly, Honk, Available Tow, and RapidTow. These apps allow you to request service, communicate with an agent, confirm a price, and track the progress. Some of these apps are fairly new and are competing with each other for market share so may not presently cover all regions.
Your last option is to use Google Maps on your smartphone to search out nearby service stations, give them a call, explain your situation, and take the matter from there.
The Windshieldink mobile app and platform can play an indirect role in roadside assistance. Windshieldink is a free app that allows you to makes yourself reachable via your license plate number should an issue arise with your vehicle. The Windshieldink app also provides an additional means of messaging using a simple Connects ID which allows any business, including roadside assistance providers, to make themselves reachable to the public via the same smartphone app. Using a fictional roadside assistance business, this is how it would work.
Joe’s Towing Co. provides roadside assistance in the Sudbury, Ontario region and they created a Windshieldink Connects ID called #JOETOW (learn more about Connects). Their customers now know that anytime their car breaks down, they can use the Windshieldink app and input #JOETOW in the #ID field, Ontario as the origin and send their message directly to Joe’s Towing Co. There is no need to remember a phone number nor do an online search for their business. The Windshieldink in-app notification pop-up contains Joe’s Towing’s message (see image below) and allows the customer to email their message, contact information, and GPS location directly to Joe’s Towing Co. Joe’s Towing can then call them back directly to discuss the situation. Windshieldink simply provides an easy avenue to connect the two parties.
A grander vision of this concept could conceivably be to create an entire network of Ontario roadside assistance providers, that would all use the same simple Connects ID, for example “#TOW”. Any person driving in Ontario that breaks down simply needs to remember #TOW, origin is Ontario, send their message and GPS location, and a central dispatcher can dispatch the nearest available service truck, whether it be Kingston, Timmins, Thunder Bay or any other location in between.
An independent roadside assistance network such as this can easily function in any or all provinces across Canada. For example, if you are travelling in Ontario and require roadside assistance, all you need to remember is #TOW (Origin = Ontario). Alberta could be #TOW (Origin = Alberta). The following infographic explains the concept and how simple it is to use.
The Connects technology is already being applied in Ontario. A person can now send a pet cruelty email alert to the OSPCA simply using the Windshieldink app and inputting #SPCA in the #ID field, and Ontario as the origin in the app Send Message screen.
Modern technology provides opportunity to develop unique solutions to today’s problems. New apps and technologies are coming online regularly and people are looking at novel ways of using these platforms to grow their businesses and improve their services outreach. Windshieldink is one of these new platforms that has arrived targeting driver road safety and convenience.
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