E-tolling started out as a pretty simple concept – you use the toll roads, you pay for using them. However, largely because of the way that Sanral has handled its communication with those who should be paying, they are now refusing to pay, on principle.
The aim of e-tolling system was:
- To ease traffic congestion on the highway for people travelling to and from work
- To move goods between producer and consumer more efficiently
- To reduce toxic vehicle emissions
- To generate funds to pay for roads upgrades prior to the soccer world cup.
However, it has failed to achieve any of these goals as traffic congestion has become worse, if at all possible, and those who are using the toll roads are refusing to pay for doing so.
In fact, Gauteng’s e-tolling system is steadily deteriorating into an embarrassing fiasco.
Where did it all go wrong?
How exactly did Sanral alienate all road users so rapidly? It all comes down to poor communication.
- Users of the system felt railroaded by Sanral without being given any real opportunity to object to e-tolling
- They also weren’t given many alternatives to using the toll roads
- Sanral criminalised non-payment from the outset, sending threatening SMSes to road users before they’d sent them accounts for road usage
- When accounts are sent, they are rife with inaccuracies
- There’s no clarity on how and where road users can establish what they owe Sanral.
What it all comes down to is that Sanral is alienating the very people upon whom it relies for its success: the e-toll users. And angry customers don’t pay.
How they should have done it
When communicating with your customers there are some basic rules that you should follow. Here are some ways in which Sanral could have improved its communication surrounding e-tolling:
- Listen actively – The most important step in the whole process is listening actively to what your customer is saying, he of she wants to be heard, and to air their grievances
- Keep the customer informed – By communicating with customers openly and honestly throughout the process on both positive and negative aspects of the e-tolling implementation, people would have been more receptive to the system
- Be consistent in your message – Nothing is more disconcerting to customers than hearing two conflicting versions of the same message. They don’t know which version to believe
- Tell the truth – People won’t spend money with people they don’t trust. Remember, people will forgive many things where trust exists, but will rarely forgive anything where trust is absent.