I've wondered about these issues in my current position at work. I receive, as many transit agencies do, complaints of bus drivers behaving in a rude, non customer friendly manner. Transit customer service bulletins dictate that employees provide customer friendly service. What are the minimum and expected behaviors that should be displayed. Is discipline appropriate if an employee is not "friendly enough?"
While it is difficult to define and measure customer friendly service, unacceptable behavior is obvious.
- Cursing and/or using profane vulgar language/gestures at customers, even if provoked.
- Raising voice / screaming at customer
- Ignoring reasonable requests from customers for directions/information
- Failure to provide explanations for delays/disruptions if known
- Failure to assist when required
- Speaking to the customer in a dismissive fashion
- Prejudging a customer based on past experiences
- Treating customers differently based on sex/race/physical disabilities
- Putting schedule before service
If a customer boards and says good morning to a bus driver and the driver ignores them, while clearly rude and unfriendly, is it an offense that justifies discipline?
How a bus driver interacts with customers reflects on the operating agency as a whole. A bus driver has the ability to make or break a persons day with a simple greeting at boarding or departure. While the primary function of a bus driver is to operate the vehicle safely, it is not their ONLY function.
Multiple complaints about a bus drivers behavior is usually an indication of an angry/aggressive employee. When a complaint comes in, it is often the customers word against the drivers. Managers need to be alert to angry customers who may have missed a connecting bus and are now displacing their anger on the bus driver with an exaggerated complaint. In general, the bus drivers face is the face of the company and the only face the customer will see.
Bus drivers operate with very little supervision unique in comparison to an office or factory worker who generally have direct supervision a majority of the time. When transit supervisors conduct "check rides", they are generally observing safety skills. Customer service should also be evaluated at every chance. Though difficult to measure consistently, obvious customer "un-friendly" service should not be tolerated and always addressed appropriately. Perhaps first through retraining, then through discipline.
What is your experience with friendly customer service in bus operations?