We were appointed 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. Customers are at the heart of what TfL do, and they work hard to listen to, and act upon, feedback. There was a consistent theme noted in the feedback received around customer service and although this was a relatively small number of complaints given the number of journeys made, they were keen to make improvements based on their key value: that every journey matters.
Therefore, the customer experience programme we created (named ‘Hello London’) was designed around the customer’s perceptions of the service that they receive and it focused n 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.
Ensuring the programme would bring about sustained behavioural change was a priority, and that meant the programme had to be relevant and tailored to resonate with each participant who attended. Therefore, we spoke to 150 drivers and operating staff, as well as key personnel at TfL’s bus directorate, the trade unions, passenger groups, to build a thorough understanding of the current culture of the London bus industry.
In order to make the shift to a customer-centric culture, we firstly delivered a programme for all garage managers and support staff in May 2016 (1,000 participants in total). This allowed all participants to share, discuss and challenge each other to fully understand their role in supporting drivers to deliver an excellent customer experience. The “commitment to making changes to supporting the driver’s delivering excellent service” created by these participants as part of the programme was to be shared with the drivers’ during their sessions – and this link between the two programmes enamelled the start of a conversation between managers, support staff and drivers about changing the culture within their garages.
We then embarked on the 2-day driver-focused programme in June 2016, running all the way through to March 2018, training over 23,000 drivers throughout this period. This vast scale programme invited all drivers from the 10 operating companies, 100 per session, 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.