Delivery of good customer service is vital to future of the bus industry. This Award is designed to promote its delivery and improvement by rewarding excellence, best practice and innovation in this essential area.
The judges were looking for:
- an organisation that has set a new standard to deliver customer satisfaction, or
- a particular creative solution, developed by an organisation or team, which had vastly improved the passenger experience, or
- an initiative that had improved the journey experience for a particular passenger group
Ideally, the winner of the award sets ambitions for the future and thus blazes a trail for others in the industry to follow.
Winners: trent barton
Putting Passengers First: A Customer Obsessed Culture
The judges felt that this entry fully justified trent barton’s international reputation as research-led and customer-obsessed. It is clear that this is rooted in a genuine passion for customer service, and that therefore the company “gets it right” more consistently and comprehensively than its peers.
The company cites long term dedication and investment in recruitment, coaching, delivery and monitoring as the means by which it has embedded the precept of seeking to delight customers in its culture.
The judges particularly praised the empowerment of staff – as evidenced by the ‘money back guarantee’ – allowing drivers not to charge at all if they, or customers, deem service to have disappointed.
The judges also praised TrentBarton’s willingness to innovate, to do things thoroughly and to deliver improvements year on year.
Runners Up: Arnold White Estates and partners
Dash Direct, Leighton Buzzard
The Dash Direct Service was introduced in April 2010, providing a high quality, high frequency service, linking both new and existing housing in Leighton Buzzard to a wide range of destinations, including employment, education, retail and leisure, plus the High Street and the Railway Station. In 12 months, it became one of the most popular services in Bedfordshire and carried 10 times more passengers than its predecessor.
The judges thought that this project represented a genuine advance for customers. The partners had thought the project through properly, and they particularly praised the availability of real-time information in the home.
The project is directed by the Southern Leighton Buzzard Steering Group, which is a partnership of public/private sector parties, including Central Bedfordshire Council, Leighton Linslade Town Council, South Beds Friends of the Earth, Stuart Michael Associates, Arriva and Arnold White Estates.
Arriva North East - Quorum Business Park: A Partnership for Growth
Arriva and Quorum Business Park have been working together to increase public transport use for employees based on the Business Park by offering a range of assistance and enhanced products.
The judges liked the fact that the partnership has delivered travel planning for employees, a dedicated bus service linking to the local Metro station, and fast, specially branded buses from Newcastle, Cramlington and Blyth. The judges noted that the services run at times convenient for shift start and finish times on the Business Park and offer reduced prices for regular travellers.
Centro - Walsall's Voluntary Multilateral Agreement
In April 2010, Walsall saw the launch of the UK’s first ever Voluntary Multilateral Agreement between the public and private sectors in a metropolitan area to improve bus services for passengers.
The judges were pleased to note the reported result of increased passenger volumes (4.5%) and higher levels of customer satisfaction (up by 2%). It reinforces the benefits that customers can gain from partnership in the industry.
Lothian Buses - Customer Service
Rather than focusing on one initiative, Lothian Buses recently commissioned an extensive and wide reaching review of its customer services processes, procedures, standards and outcomes. Spearheaded by existing customer service staff, many standard-improving processes and internal changes were identified and subsequently implemented.
The judges praised this approach, and particularly liked the fact that this is an ongoing process, with continual monitoring of standards and development of further internal improvements to enhance the customers’ experience when interacting with Lothian.
Stagecoach UK Bus – CitylinkGold
Citylinkgold is a premium luxury coach service linking Glasgow with Inverness and Aberdeen, developed to meet the needs of the commuter market in the current economic times. The journey includes an at-seat service free drinks and snacks.
Given the recession and the reduced option of First Class rail travel amongst business travellers, Stagecoach set out to provide a solution which simultaneously encouraged modal shift: and CitylinkGold was born.
The judges liked the development of the service as a luxury product which offers a differentiated alternative travel option to existing train users or car users.
Judges' Overall Verdict
The judges were pleased to see the volume of entries in this new category in its first year: however, they felt that, probably because of the newness of the award, some entries had not been thought through as they might have been. However, the best showed genuinely original thinking and really did show strong evidence of being customer-focused.
Who could be nominated?
Entries were welcomed from operators, authorities and others specifying and securing services, partnerships and tourist agencies.
… and by whom?
Nominations were accepted from all eligible organisations and self-nomination was acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
Decisions were based on the quality of the submissions made and the extent to which they address the criteria. Therefore, nominations should:
- Describe the project or organisation that is being submitted for the award
- Show how the nominee has achieved one or more of the following:
- Delivery of outstanding standards of service to bus passengers
- Improvement in the standards of its service to all its passengers
- Improvements to the journey experience of particular groups of passengers
- Show why the nomination is innovative and likely to influence others in the industry
In assessing and comparing entries, judges took into account the nominees’ underlying approach to customer service standards, which were judged on the factors set out below. These should therefore be addressed in the entry:
- Employee training and involvement: the extent to which staff are involved in the delivery of excellent customer service and in the development of the standards by which the organisation judges itself
- Service delivery: how the organisation goes about achieving consistency of delivery and measurement of standards
- Recovery – how the nominee goes about restoring the customer confidence when performance falls short of the expected quality
- Customer information and contact: the approaches used by the organisation to ensure that customers are:
- treated with respect and integrity
- kept informed
- provided with easily accessible points of contact
- provided with clearly documented, published and auditable complaints procedures
- Customer research - the extent to which a company:
- seeks to discover the needs and expectations of its customers with some indication of the results of such a strategy.
- bases its strategy on customer feedback
- measures its achievements (and/or failures) by research and monitoring and uses results to modify or improve its approach