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TTC seeks outside help on customer service

January 20, 2010 04:01:00
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

Weeks after TTC riders were seeing red over a fare increase, token shortages and a major subway disruption, transit officials are preparing to appoint a blue-ribbon panel of private-sector experts to help improve customer service.

Although he wouldn’t say who would be on the panel, TTC chair Adam Giambrone suggested at least one airline industry representative might be among those appointed in the coming weeks.

Riders and other city councillors on the Toronto Transit Commission will likely also play an advisory role, he said.

“The TTC has technology in place to inform its customers, directly, of service disruptions. Managing the face-to-face interactions with customers, however, is more challenging and we believe requires a thorough review,” says a memo before the transit commission Wednesday signed by Giambrone and TTC chief general manager Gary Webster.

The memo also refers to customer complaints “regarding the attitude and behaviour of some employees that are inconsistent with the expectations we all have.”

“We’ve worked on building an expansion of the transit system, working on improvements to the TTC … This is one area that remains unresolved,” Giambrone told the Star.

An outside consultant would also be hired to review customer service training, customer interaction, complaints and technology at a cost likely in the tens of thousands of dollars, he said. “What is key is that you do need an outside, fresh perspective,” he said.

City Councillor Peter Milczyn, who sits on the transit commission, has also recommended the TTC refocus its entire business through a customer service lens.

“A new approach to both our marketing and our delivery is overdue. The slogan ‘The Better Way’ has become not just stale but ridiculed by many,” he wrote.

The TTC had about 31,000 complaints between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2009, about 15 per cent more than the previous year. That is attributed largely to the fare increase.




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