Driving Excellence: Turning Customer Service into Customer Satisfaction

Driving Excellence: Turning Customer Service into Customer Satisfaction
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Driving Excellence: Turning Customer Service into Customer Satisfaction
By Mark Aesch

Sometimes you can’t just tweak an existing element of your business if you want to improve; you need to swallow hard and reimagine it from scratch. A great example of an internal process change was when I was the CEO of the Rochester transit agency.

Conditions on our buses were a real sticking point for us – and I mean that literally. Sticky floors, chewing gum sticking to our shoes, and used candy bar wrappers sticking to the seats. Former senior executives hard sought to tackle the problem by telling our drivers, “If you have been assigned a dirty bus, you have my permission to not drive it off the property.” Our buses were still disgusting; we knew that, and now we knew exactly what our customers thought, too. Our Customer Satisfaction Index scores around bus cleanliness were distressingly low. Given that bus cleanliness was a key part of the customer experience, we realized that it was well within our Excellence in Customer Service strategy to do something about it.

We assigned the project to a mid-level team and they immediately took strong ownership. I could have assigned this task to a senior team but purposefully didn’t. Two reasons. The leadership folks were taxed already. The more important reason, was that I wanted to give a group of employees in the middle of the organization the opportunity to work as a team to solve a problem that all the senior bosses dating back for year had been unable to lick. This was a major opportunity for them to show off their game- and they knew it. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

Over a period of months, we wound up designing a new, best-in class process for cleaning our buses. The total cost of the implementing the program came just under a half million dollars. And the results were worth every penny. We nearly tripled our bus cleanliness scores. Whereas customers at town meetings used to trash us over the conditions of our buses, from then on all we heard, with very few exceptions, were compliments. Our buses used to be rolling embarrassments for our organization, a glaring shortcoming. The conditions of our buses, and interiors especially, became a point of pride, symbolizing our organizational success. One of our longtime customers said it all: “Riding the buses is just so much more comfortable than it used to be. I no longer have to worry about my three-year-old niece picking up a piece of chewed-up gum. It’s like they didn’t even care before. Now you can really see the elbow grease they put in to clean these buses.”

This victory was our victory as an organization. We did it as a team. And the mid-level employees that designed the solution were put front and center. For more on how to transform your organization culture – and revolutionary results Order Your Copy of Driving Excellence today.

Agency Spotlight

The Port Authority of Alleghany County in Pittsburgh, PA, recently implemented the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) process to help drive customer-focused improvements. Bus cleanliness was identified by customers as a key driver of customer satisfaction. The Port Authority immediately sprang into action on both the operational side and perception side. Taking advantage of the snowy winter weather to educate their customers about the measures they take to keep buses clean, and actually showing the process in the form of a short video, is an excellent way to begin shifting customer perceptions of cleanliness to match with actual performance. The next survey results and CSI will tell!

Measure What Matters

The only way to know what the customer expects from your service is to ask them. TransPro’s process conducts focus groups with customers to determine what matters most in their experience as your patron and then translates that feedback into a meaningful survey and a customer satisfaction index to measure and report back survey findings. The CSI is a powerhouse for data-driven decision making.

How The CSI Works

TransPro’s CSI measures actual performance against customer impressions to determine how efforts by an agency stack up to satisfaction levels. Gaps in the two are a red flag that action needs to be taken.

The CSI is comprised of metrics weighted to reflect what survey results revealed as most important, and measures both actual performance and customer impressions in those categories. An overall total provides a comprehensive assessment of your service, including an indication of where training programs or specific initiatives are working, and where more efforts are needed. A properly designed CSI is a tool that can be used to help hold teams and individuals accountable for their role in the customer experience.