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The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is an independent agency that manages the day-to-day operations of San Diego International Airport. Traffic volume is growing: the airport served a record-high 24 million passengers in 2018, with 1 million of those traveling internationally. The Airport Authority also serves as San Diego County’s Airport Land Use Commission, responsible for protecting public health and safety surrounding area airports.
One of the core business functions of the Airport Authority involves managing applications and providing permits for commercial vehicles entering and exiting the airport. Those include taxis and limousines picking up and dropping off individual passengers, as well as larger commercial shuttles.
In 2017 the agency provided more than 700 permits to operators, each one requiring an application form that ranged from 24 pages to sometimes more than 75 pages for large fleets. The agency sent applications via postal mail, resulting in upwards of 30,000 pieces of paper printed in recent years.
Not only was this process costly, it put a tremendous strain on staff time and resources. As the recipient of several awards for its commitment to environmentally conscious operations, paper-based applications ran contrary to the airport’s sustainability goals.
Because applications were filled out by hand, many were illegible and weren’t filled out properly. Corrections required the handwritten initials of the applicant, and missing documents like proofs of insurance further delayed approvals.
Furthermore, it wasn’t a great customer experience. Operators needed to pay their permit fees in person at the agency offices, which were only open three days a week. This delayed payments, which had an impact on revenue. Fees often took 30 to 90 days to process.
“The result was a time-consuming review process for staff and extensive wait times for permit applicants,” said Kimberly DeYoung, project analyst with the airport authority’s ground transportation department. “There had to be a better way.”
To address these various issues, Airport Authority operations team started by taking a hard look at their overall business processes from end to end, DeYoung explained. “We did intense work upfront so we could really re-envision the process.”
As part of its new digital permitting system, the company chose to adopt DocuSign Guided Forms, powered by Intelledox, to replace these static paper forms and build an all-new way to communicate with and engage its customers and internal staff.
Intelledox enables organizations like the Airport Authority to transform complicated forms into “wizard-style” interviews to capture signer information for an agreement. Questions adapt based on prior known information or previous answers. When the information is captured, the system can automatically generate the signer’s personalized signature-ready agreement in DocuSign, resulting in a faster, easier experience with fewer errors and less friction.
For the agency, a new process can begin online when the vehicle operator requests an application. This automatically generates an email with a personalized link to an application. The applicant opens the link and completes the interview, with different questions dynamically served based on the individual needs and profile.
Intelledox enables interview questions to dynamically adapt to the user’s needs
The applicant can upload documents needed, such as evidence of insurance, from within the digital interview. For example, if the vehicle is more than seven years old, the agency requires an inspection report. “Applicants would consistently miss that in the paper process. Here in the smart form, depending on the year of the vehicle, the question will appear or disappear as needed, so the application packages are more accurate,” DeYoung explains.
One of the features attracting the most positive feedback is the ability for applicants to submit information via mobile device, including photos of the vehicle registration forms or other documents, DeYoung said. “People love that. More than 80 percent of our customers now interact that way.” In addition, users can start and stop an application without losing their work.
When the agency receives completed applications, they go into a work queue so specialists can begin the review process. If all application requirements are met, the specialist marks the file as “approved.” If not, the specialist marks it as “Corrections Needed” and the system automatically generates an email back to the applicant listing the additional information required.
Once the process is complete and approved, the system generates a DocuSign email to the operator, allowing them to sign their application electronically and pay related fees online via a secure payment gateway.
“Our implementation time was so quick. We went from concept to roll out in just over six months. That really speaks to the quality of products we are using.” – Mike Anderson, Ground Transportation Manager.
Deploying the new process was speedy, which was important for the team. “Our implementation time was so quick. We went from concept to roll out in just over six months, said Mike Anderson, manager with the airport authority’s ground transportation department. “That really speaks to the quality of products we are using.”
In its first six months the airport authority sent out nearly 450 application links to charter operators, and permitted 820 vehicles. Once an application has been approved and the DocuSign email is sent, it now typically takes less than an hour for the applicant to sign and pay.
Average processing time per application dropped dramatically, from weeks to about 10 to 20 minutes. “We’re getting incredible throughput,” DeYoung said.
“Adopting Guided Forms has saved us countless hours by eliminating the need to handle permit applications by hand,” DeYoung said. “The end result is a more productive staff and happier, more profitable operators. Some of our operators are in Los Angeles so now they don’t have to drive here to complete the process in person. It takes less time, is more data accurate and our team doesn’t have to worry about incomplete applications” DeYoung added.
DeYoung said the ease of use of the Intelledox platform has also been a success factor for the agency. “You don’t have to be a programmer,” she noted. The agency recently changed its fee structure for permits and instead of requiring IT support, she was able to make the updates easily.
Because of the success of its initial project, the agency is looking at Intelledox to revamp processes across other areas, such as parking permits and other operations. “Because of the money we’ve saved, other departments can now see the opportunities for recapturing savings through this kind of digital transformation,” DeYoung noted.
“Adopting Guided Forms has saved us countless hours by eliminating the need to handle permit applications by hand. The end result is a more productive staff and happier, more profitable operators.” – Kimberly DeYoung, Project Manager.
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