Team messaging provides “minute-to-minute” coordination between field techs and HQ for smart bike-sharing operations
CycleHop logo
Now we’re doubling in size about every year. And pretty much everything we do filters through RingCentral Video in some way, shape, or form.

Eric Trull

Regional Director for Florida, CycleHop
For smart bike operator CycleHop, RingCentral Video is an essential tool for ensuring customers enjoy a smooth ride.
Using the RingCentral Video mobile app on tablets, field operations staff members who spend their whole day working out of a van or at job sites in 15 cities across the US and Canada stay in constant communication with CycleHop’s central operations center in Tampa, where employees use RingCentral Video on PCs. Together, they coordinate daily activities like repairing and maintaining bikes and replenishing the supplies at bus, subway, and train stations. When the operations staff gets a report of an issue like a customer with a flat tire or a mechanical breakdown, they use RingCentral Video to dispatch a field worker to handle the repair.
“RingCentral Video is used for the minute-to-minute communications,” says Eric Trull, CycleHop’s Regional Director for Florida. As employee #1 at the company, back when it rolled out its first major operations in Tampa four years ago, Trull established many of CycleHop’s logistics and management systems, including the use of RingCentral Video. “Now we’re doubling in size about every year,” he says. “And pretty much everything we do filters through RingCentral Video in some way, shape, or form.”
In cities like Atlanta, Orlando, Ottawa, and Santa Monica, citizens who use the public transportation system can use an app from CycleHop LLC to reserve a bike that will be waiting at the bus or train station for them to ride the rest of the way to their destination. CycleHop uses RingCentral Video in combination with RingEX™ as its business phone system and for online video meetings with screen sharing.
Santa Monica, California

Smarter biking

Under contract with municipal and regional transit agencies, CycleHop provides its services under many different names like Breeze Bike Share in Santa Monica, Juice in Orlando, or Grid in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona. In other cases, CycleHop’s customer is a university or a corporation making bikes available on its campus.

CycleHop says it is the largest smart bike operator, taking advantage of smart technologies like GPS locators and digital locks built into the bikes it uses, which are made by Social Bicycles. One advantage of these bikes is that riders do not necessarily have to return them to the proprietary rental racks CycleHop maintains at bus, subway, and train stations. As long as the bike is secured properly, a rider can lock it to any bike rack, and CycleHop workers will pick it up in a van. This turns out to be an important advance in smart bike technology because otherwise riders who arrive at a station where the racks are full are stuck waiting for an opportunity to return the bike. It also means someone who rides a bike home from the train station can end their ride by securing it somewhere near their home, rather than figuring out how to get it back to a public transit location.

Integrating and automating

That said, a huge priority for CycleHop’s operations team is to track its inventory and make sure the bike racks at each transit station are never empty nor too full for bikes to be returned. When CycleHop’s bike inventory system detects either of those conditions, it generates an alert that is relayed to the RingCentral Video operations team conversation for that city. The inventory system sends an email notification to a mailbox monitored by Zapier, a cloud service that integrates with many other cloud services. Zapier, which is one of the out-of-the-box integrations with RingCentral Video, in turn creates a notification in the matching team messaging conversation. As a next step, Trull wants to use the RingCentral RingCentral Video APIs to create a direct connection between the inventory system and RingCentral Video. But so far the Zapier solution is working just fine. “I’m a huge automation geek, as is most of the company,” Trull says. “The more we can streamline operations across the company, the better it is for all of us.”

Whether a message is automated or posted by the operations center staff, it appears in a RingCentral Video conversation where field technicians can write back with questions. Or, as a way of showing they have seen an issue reported and will respond to it, they use the “like” button — as simple way of marking a message about a customer or operational issue to show they will take responsibility for handling it.
I’m a huge automation geek, as is most of the company. The more we can streamline operations across the company, the better it is for all of us.

Eric Trull

Regional Director for Florida, CycleHop

Staying on task

CycleHop also makes extensive use of RingCentral Video Tasks for assigning work to employees, such as maintenance tasks that must be performed on a recurring schedule.

“I’ve used Slack before, but it doesn’t really work for me,” Trull says. Specifically, team messaging without the built-in task management included with RingCentral Video strikes him as an incomplete solution, he says. “I need that checkbox in there to be satisfied.”

In every city, there are specific contract requirements for cleaning and safety checks. The list of tasks checked off in RingCentral Video gives the company a way of documenting that it has completed those chores, Trull says.

Because RingCentral Video Tasks are essentially messages with assignments and deadlines attached, whenever Trull or other managers want to make sure everyone, or everyone in a specific city, has seen a specific message, they structure it as a task assigned to multiple people — specifying that should only be marked “done” when everyone on the list has checked off their portion of it.

In addition, RingCentral Video gave CycleHop the tools it needed to operate at two very different scales: at the national level and as part of local teams, he says. Nationally, RingCentral Video is part of how CycleHop manages and tracks more than 6,000 bikes and keeps its customers satisfied. Locally, RingCentral Video helps each team coordinate its activities. When on-boarding a new city, university, or corporate client, CycleHop often invites its customers into a RingCentral Video team conversation used specifically to plan the product launch.

Beyond that, RingCentral Video connects field operations staff members in many different cities — even in places where there are only one or two of them — so they can compare notes on how to address their common challenges. “It helps them feel like they’re part of a team, not just themselves and a manager working that city,” Trull says.

Most of all, RingCentral Video helps the CycleHop team focus by giving them specific channels for specific types of work in specific cities, lowering the risk of important messages falling through the cracks as they can tend to do in email. Trull said he discovered RingCentral Video at a time when he was “wearing a few too many hats” while trying to set up the customer operations center, and it helped him impose order on his work communications. “I could not imagine working without this,” he says.