Transport for London appointed Steps to design, deliver, implement and reinforce an engaging customer experience programme for all 26,000 drivers, managers and garage support staff on London’s bus network. The programme was to help the workforce adopt a more customer centric mind-set and to help bring about sustainable behavioural change within the industry. TfL works very hard to listen to, and act upon, feedback and complaints to constantly improve its services and shape transport provision in the UK capital. Customers are at the heart of what they do, and they strongly believe that every journey matters. With this strategy in mind, TfL receive a relatively small number of complaints given the number of journeys made however, there was a consistent theme noted in the feedback that TfL received from their customers. The Hello London programme is designed around the customer’s perceptions of the service that they receive and it focuses on the following themes:
- Buses not always stopping
- Drivers could be more helpful and acknowledge their customers
- Drivers could be better at managing conflict – and sometimes left customers with the perception that the driver had been rude or showed offensive behaviour
- Customers could be better informed about their journey by more driver announcements being made.
The project’s key objectives were centred on the four issues highlighted above. This is because the drivers themselves would all have direct influence on whether the feedback could be improved.
To kick the project off, a design team of 4 spent a month visiting 10 garages across the network, meeting over 150 drivers and operating staff. We also took the time to meet people from TfL’s bus directorate to understand their role on supporting the service, as well as engaging with the Trade Unions. This was really important to help us deeply understand the industry and each operator’s working culture. How did each company go about delivering customer service? What did that look like from a customers’ perspective?
TfL were clear from the beginning that a two pronged approach, one with an internal focus and one with an external one, was necessary to influence customer service behaviours throughout the businesses.
Therefore, we firstly delivered a programme for all garage managers and support staff. This event allowed all participants to share, discuss and challenge each other to fully understand their role in supporting drivers to deliver an excellent customer experience. This programme was delivered to 1,000 managers and support staff, and the “commitment to making changes to supporting the driver’s delivering excellent service” created by the participants was to be shared with the driver’s on their event. This link between the two programmes was imperative to starting a conversation between managers, support staff and drivers about changing the culture within their garages.
Secondly, we embarked on the driver-focused programme in June 2016. The scale is so huge – with a need to train 25,000 drivers, from across all 10 operating companies – that it will be completed at the end of March 2018. The course invites all drivers, 100 per course, to share their experiences and challenges of safely driving the travelling public around London 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 364 days a year.