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Passenger focus increasingly important

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Passenger focus increasingly important

Buses, routes and keeping to a tight timetable have always been the main priorities. But during the seminar entitled Who owns the relationship with the passenger?, the focus was firmly on the customer.
Once we’ve expanded public transport as far as possible, the industry is quite widely agreed that the next step is customer orientation,” said Henrik Dagnäs, Head of Marketing at Nobina.

The seminar was held by branding agency Magnusson & Kennberg Varumärkesutveckling. It all started with a staged protest march with children chanting, “We want friendly bus drivers!” And this was essentially the starting point for the discussion – to reach beyond procurement bids and production to talk about the ‘soft’ values.

“We started looking at it from the perspective of our citizen dialogue with upper secondary school students. They’re naturally good at getting the bus, but how can we keep them? It emerged that driver behaviour is tremendously important, so something really has to be done,” said Göran Gunnarsson (Centre Party) of the Transport & Social Planning Committee in Region Östergötland.

The question is, though, how can this be spread out into the organisations? And is it an issue for the politicians? Teres Lindberg (Social Democratic Party) is a deputy on the Swedish parliamentary Transport Committee, and she says that this kind of thing is very hard to manage from above.

 - We’ve just considered a bill relating to breaks and so on for bus drivers. But it could also create more problems; it’s more about dealing with people and personnel development. That’s how we can sort out the environment for personnel and passengers on public transport. I think sometimes we complicate the issue with all the regulations,” she said.

Christer Olsson, Head of Marketing at Kalmar Länstrafik, was asked whether politicians are doing enough to put the customer in focus.

 - Not really, it’s still very much about finances. They could do so much more if only they had the resources. There’s a lot to learn and more governance is needed around these values,” he said.

Linda Ekdahl of Västtrafik’s customer strategy team, on the other hand, said that a lot is happening at the moment, and that Västtrafik is placing more and more emphasis on the customer. The key is a stronger focus on the personnel.

 - You can’t have a good customer relationship if the staff aren’t doing their bit to maintain it. So the key is to lay the foundation that allows staff to do just that, and this in turn will generate positive human encounters with customers. Having said that, it’s not only about the human encounters, but the whole customer experience,” she said.

Caption: Henrik Dagnäs, Teres Lindberg, Göran Gunnarsson, Linda Ekdahl, Christer Olsson and Malmö’s friendliest bus driver Patrik Ramén took part in the discussion. But it all started off with a ‘protest march’ calling for friendlier bus drivers.



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