Who Gets to Decide?

Who Gets to Decide?
Who Gets to Decide?
By Nicole McCleary, Project Leader

Who gets to decide what’s important to the customer? As a transit agency when was the last time you asked your customers what is important to them? TransPro recently engaged in multiple conversations with service industry leaders to learn about their approach to customer service and how it has changed from pre COVID-19 pandemic to the present.

What we learned was that it is actually a dance between the customer and the service provider in which customer satisfaction, reviews, sales and in our case, ridership can provide important information on what customers believe is important. So how do transit agencies address what is important to the customer when they are also dealing with a rapidly changing environment during the recent past and are unsure of what the future will look like? Through conversations with service industry leaders TransProvians gained some great insight.

As we come out of the pandemic, transit agencies that can measure and articulate value beyond the number of people they move will gain more support that will enable their long-term success. One key to responding to current conditions is to ask, “How I can help my customer?” This one question then turns a customer focused problem into a mutual issue shared by both the agency and the customer. This will essentially provide the agency with more of a customer focus. By examining customer priorities and concerns through their lens, different solutions may evolve. Having a schedule may not be as valuable to your customer as providing real time information.

Focusing on the customer and deliberating on how the service you provide increases or decreases your customers’ level of satisfaction and wellbeing will also assist in making transformative changes. Knowing that your bus is coming in 5 minutes through real time information may garner greater satisfaction from customers than expecting the bus to be there in 3 minutes and it arrives 2 minutes later. This also leads to developing more trust and investment in the service provider.

Taking action that shows that the service provider cares about the customer and understands what they value will also have positive impacts on the customer satisfaction. However, taking action is not enough. If the customer does not know you are taking action, did anything really happen? No, it didn’t. If customers do not know that you are implementing changes and why those changes have been identified as important efforts can go unnoticed, and customers can feel as if their concerns are not being heard. To validate customer service changes that have been identified as priorities and high value, share improvements. Service industry leaders have identified marketing as a great way to let customers not only know that you care but demonstrate that you recognize there is room for improved service and have implemented changes based on their values. In efforts to assure your customers that they are being heard, market transformative changes. Inform customers of measures to ensure safety, improve transit service and increase access using various media tools such as social media, local media outlets and other sources that increase your reach.

As transit providers and community leaders assess the pandemic’s impact, we have an opportunity to build a better future with a strong transit focus, based on how we responded to the changes compelled by COVID-19 and how we respond to the shifting needs and priorities of our customers.