It starts with the customer and what they care about.
Whether it's buses, trains, shuttles, vans or cars, public transportation is an essential part of getting around large cities and connecting small communities. However, the experience of using public transportation can vary greatly depending on the quality of service provided, safety, perceptions and much more. That's where the concept of customer experience (CX) comes in.
CX refers to the interactions that customers have with a business or service provider. In the context of public transportation, it includes every touchpoint that a passenger has with the service, from planning their trip to purchasing tickets, boarding the vehicle and reaching their destination.
According to Aaron Weinstein, a leader in public transit CX with years of experience developing CX guidelines and initiatives for large west coast agencies, public transit must strive to be reliable, safe, on-time, clean and user-friendly. This will allow them to achieve the goals of enhancing mobility for marginalized populations and luring people out of their cars to address the climate crisis. Aaron has conducted hundreds of surveys to identify transit rider pain points and has worked across organizations to remedy them.
Providing a positive customer experience is crucial for public transportation providers. Here are some reasons why:
When passengers have a good experience using public transportation, they are more likely to use it again in the future. Moreover, satisfied customers are likely to share their positive experiences with others, leading to word-of-mouth recommendations and increased ridership.
A good CX can enhance the reputation of a public transportation provider. Positive experiences can lead to favorable reviews and feedback, which can help build a positive brand image. This, in turn, can attract more customers and drive ridership growth.
A good CX can improve operational efficiency. When passengers have a smooth and hassle-free experience, it can lead to fewer delays, faster boarding times and more efficient use of resources. This can translate to cost savings and increased efficiency for the transportation provider.
Transportation providers should identify Key Experience Indicators (KEIs). KEIs can allow a public transit agency to measure CX. These should be based on customer survey data and can assign hard data to perceptions of on-time performance, cleanliness, real-time information, etc. This allows an agency to prioritize the top CX pain points.
KEIs also help transportation providers to better understand diverse customer needs. Different customers have very different CX needs. Agencies can create surveys with cross-tabulations to understand the unique needs of riders. Such as those who identify as women, different racial groups, those with different technological literacy and much more across their ridership. CX can help agencies better understand the needs of riders who might not have unlimited data or a smartphone. For example, when changing service, part of the messaging can be “please share this info with people you see at the bus stop.” Agencies could also have a toll-free number people can call or send out ambassadors around the time of the service change.
Providing a positive customer experience is critical for public transportation providers. It can lead to customer satisfaction, loyalty, a positive brand image and improved operational efficiency. As such, public transportation providers should prioritize CX as an essential component of their overall business strategy.
For more tips on improving customer experiences for transit riders, visit www.TransitCX.org and check out Aaron’s blog.