Customer Charter for seamless travel at interchanges

A customer charter sets the standards for a company regarding customer service. The charter is shared with all passengers and employees of the transport company so they work under the customer charter to assure the best customer service possible.  A charter explains different areas where passengers can expect service. Customer service goes beyond listening and helping customers, but also involves other elements such as information and privacy.

A customer charter helps to focus better the services of an organisation and helps to place the customers at the centre. It can be considered as a voluntary agreement between the public transport operators and its customers. It sets the standards that the customer can expect and explains what to do if there is a disruption in the service provision. It helps the organisation to clearly define what its services are. It also helps management to set out to the employees what is actually important. Often the customer charter is developed for the transport services provided, and is less focused on what the customer can expect at the interchanges. Now public transport services at some networks are separated from the infrastructure, the development of a dedicated interchange customer charter may be of use. Also, the increasing importance other services at larger interchanges might imply the need to develop an interchange customer charter such as this. Items that should be taken into account when preparing an interchange customer charter including: • Identifying the standards that a customer can expect at an interchange • Explaining to the customers how they can complain if the service is not correctly provided, or how to submit ideas on how services can be improved • The charter should be easy to understand and accessible • Both customers and employees should be involved • It should include a chapter on further service improvements and how they will be met in time • Linking the charter to relevant legislation, if any • The charter should be dated and it be updated at frequent intervals

All passengers of a transport company have access to the customer charter. This may be online or a physical copy. Regardless, customers expect the items stated in the customer charter to be provided and it is the transport company’s responsibility to comply.


NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration ++
Enhance intermodality ++
Enhance liveability ++
Increase safety and security conditions +
Increase economic viability and costs efficiency 0
Stimulate local economy 0
Increase environmental efficiency 0
Increase energy efficiency 0

Good practice

There are no examples known within the NODES project of specific Interchange Customer charters.

Application in NODES sites

The tool was tested for Thessaloniki’s interchanges The thorough study of the OASTh passenger charter revealed the complete absence of any reference to interchanges. The document refers generally to the services that OASTh is responsible for providing its passengers, with no particular responsibilities for interchanges. Under European Regulation 181/2011 and European Directive 2013/11, which has been in effect since 01.03.2013, there is a requirement to revise the Passenger Charter accordingly. This need has highlighted to the operator (OASTh) and the Greek Ministry of Transport by ThePTA. A particular reference will be made to interchanges in order to enhance the passenger charter

Other good practices

Customer charters are often part of wider public transport customer charters. In the UK’s Strategic public transport partnerships, in which the public transport services are separated from the interchange management, more details are available about how interchanges are maintained and improved. Nevertheless, this focus often on infrastructure improvements, with little focus on customer needs.

In the FIRST West England customer charter, the following references and statements are found in relation to the interchange:

  • The maintenance of up-to-date roadside or bus station information (where this is not undertaken by the Local Authority).
  • We will maintain travel shops in a good condition, ensuring that leaflets and other information are available and up to date • Where bus stations are under our control, we will endeavour to keep them clean and to have litter and graffiti removed as soon as possible. • All posters displayed at our bus stations and travel shops will be current, appropriate for the location and professionally produced. • We will not allow hand-drawn, written signs or written posters unless it is an emergency situation.

Potential interchange performance improvement

A good customer charter as such will not lead to a more smooth interchange, but it will help the organisation to take a first step and focus on what is really important.


Resources

A customer charter can be developed at relatively low cost. Most resources are related to building the relationship with the customer. This should not just be an obligatory process, but will demonstrate genuine involvement and putting the customer first.

References

Institute of the customer service

www.instituteofcustomerservice.com

FIRST group

http://firstgroup.com/ukbus/bristol_bath/help_contact/customer_care/index.php

Putting the Customer first

VanHagen DeBruyn The Ten Commandments def