The app also includes discount offers from more than 340 partners, such as bicycle rentals, taxis, shops and theaters. The app uses geo-location data and the offers change as users who have opted into sharing their location move around the city.
An opera house, for example, might have a number of unsold tickets that it can sell through discount offers that are pushed out to users who are within a certain distance from the theater. Acknowledging that people can get irritated by push notifications, the app is set up so that users only get one notification every 36 hours.
The app also keeps track of the kind of offers users are clicking on, and those deals rise to the top of the list the longer someone uses it. When the app was introduced several months ago, the number of users was capped at 20,000. STM reached that number four months ago and its new goal is to get all 2.5 million Opus cardholders to download the app, according to Bourbonniere.
“The name of the game for us is to influence our riders’ behaviors,” Bourbonniere commented. “Until now, we knew [the passengers’] names, but we didn’t have many ways to talk to them. Now we know their names and we can see what their behavior is and we can advise them.”
STM’s legal advisors informed the organization that it could not store demographic information such as the number of children in a user’s household or individual preferences in its database. The solution, Bourbonniere said, was to create two databases.
“One database holds the critical information in STM’s CRM system, and anything that is not mission critical is sitting in Germany,” Bourbonniere explained. “That information on its own is useless, but when you receive an offer from us and say, 'I want that,' it’s almost like an atom smasher. In the fraction of a second, the information from the SAP server in Germany is combined with the information from our database to deliver a bar code for you to redeem your personalized offer.”
The connection lasts only long enough for the user to receive the offer, while protecting him or her from the potential risk of consolidated personal information, Bourbonniere added. So far 50% of users have opted into sharing their location and other data, according to SAP and STM.
“Canada has very strict privacy laws,” Bourbonniere said, “But people are willing to share their information as long as they’re receiving something relevant in return, which is what we’re doing.”