National Customer Service Week gives us a chance to highlight all the great work we are doing here at SYPTE to serve the people of South Yorkshire and also to reflect on what we could improve.
Firstly, I want to recognise the achievements of our people in delivering high quality customer service. Collectively, we deal with hundreds of thousands of customers every year, whether face-to-face at our Interchanges, over the phone at Traveline, via social media, post or emails. We get plenty of positive feedback and I’m proud that our travel information and advice keeps people on the move across the region every day.
Inevitably, we also get complaints and it is in dealing with the people who are frustrated, unhappy and sometimes angry, that we perhaps see our best customer service. Acknowledging when things haven’t gone as well as they should, finding explanations, sharing feedback and solving problems is all part of providing good customer service. It’s something I know we do well here at SYPTE and with the introduction of our refreshed Customer Charter I believe we can continue to do even better. I am grateful to everyone across the organisation who plays their part in listening to, understanding and supporting our customers, so they can get the best out of our public transport network.
But, in the current climate, we also need recognition of the challenges we face. Delivering excellent customer service against a backdrop of declining patronage and reduced funding for public transport is no easy task. Increased awareness of the environmental impact of transport and the drive to clean up the air we breathe adds another layer of complexity.
We also need to keep up with new technology. The latest advances offer us big opportunities, our social media channels along with the Traveline team give us a direct route into conversations with customers, where we can be friendly and informative, answering queries and solving problems immediately. But there is no doubt our customers expect more of us because of new technology. We all want accurate information at our fingertips and have come to expect immediate results. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to use enhanced technology to give people easy access and more choice in terms of ticketing and information across all modes of transport.
We know investing more in public transport, and enabling people to choose active travel, is the answer to so many of these challenges. If we give our customers what they want - reliable, affordable, clean and safe options to travel to work and for leisure - we will drive up patronage on public transport, get more cars off the roads and reduce air pollution.
So, we need to continue to make the case for more investment in vital transport infrastructure and innovative projects like Tram Train. To do this we must harness the support of our customers, employees and policy makers. With the right investment and commitment, we can create a transport network that responds to the needs of our customers, connecting people and places across South Yorkshire and beyond.