Can the TTC adopt a customer-service approach?
In March of this year the TTC formed a Customer Service Advisory Panel in response to increasing friction between the paying public and a transit commission that appeared at best indifferent to their customers needs. Not exactly a big surprise when you consider the TTC is a monopoly that serves a market referred to in industry parlance as "no choice riders."
The panel had a daunting task and was encouraged to review current plans and processes related to customer service, and front line (operator) employee hiring and training (initial and re-certification), including the possible introduction of a customer Bill of Rights that would address employee as well as customer expectations.
The panel consulted with the public as well as TTC employees, including meetings and focus groups. The result of this effort will be a public report (scheduled to be released sometime in 2010) that is intended to provide recommendations concerning expertise and resources needed to achieve success, which I hope means "happy customers."
The report may outline organizational changes that could include members of the Commission and management, as well as private citizens to address specific areas of interest. The findings and final recommendations of the panels’ review are sure to provide fodder for the mayoral candidates as they debate the intricacies of public transportation policy in the city.
It’s important that TTC management and their political masters recognized the urgency of the situation and struck the "blue ribbon" panel earlier this year. The chair of the panel works in the hospitality industry and seems a natural fit for the challenge at hand.
What remains to be seen is how well the initiatives and tactics used in a true customer service oriented industry will be received by TTC management used to customers held captive in a transportation market that offers little choice and increasingly less service.