Opportunity in Adversity. Glass Half Full Thinking at Arriva Trains Wales (@ArrivaTW)

Here’s quick follow up to the post about Arriva Trains Wales and their journey to improved customer service.

Last week saw another blip on the tracks. On Tuesday morning damaged signaling cable caused significant disruption. I know because I was due to meet people who were stuck at Newport (and I picked it up through Twitter).

It was interesting to observe that those people making use of Twitter (following the various train companies and Twitter hash tags #) were far better informed (and less stressed) than those who weren’t, but that’s another story……

What has grabbed my attention is the request ATW put out on Twitter for feedback on how communication worked during the disruption.  I think this approach is interesting in a number of ways. My observations:

  • You have been horribly delayed in your journey (not actually ATW’s fault), but they have tried their best to communicate with you while it was happening;
  • They have been honest and open about the limitations of their current communication  methods (no live tweeting on the disruption, see picture below);
  • But they do care about how they communicate with you, so they are asking how things worked on Tuesday so that they can make things better;
  • Sending this ‘how can we get better’ message takes some the heat out of the situation (in my opinion);
  • Gathering feedback in a structured manner while the issue is still live should capture information that is ‘fresh in the mind’, so it’s probably more accurate;
  • In my view, this is better than something six months down the track when a generic customer service questionnaire asks a potentially vague question about ‘communication during disruption’; and.
  • How good is your memory of the communication aspects of the event likely to be in 2 weeks time, let alone 6 months? This (almost) real-time feedback has got to be more useful.

I really like what ATW are trying to do here. It’s a good attempt at trying to engage with service users through Twitter as part of the improvement journey. Even though it was a difficult situation they have seen an opportunity to try and make things better. Real ‘glass half full’ thinking, nice one ATW.

I wonder if any other public service providers might have a go at something like this?

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. During disruption, service users really appreciate knowing what’s going on. Twitter offers an opportunity to do that.
  2. Being open and honest about your limitations and asking for information on ‘how do we improve’ is a good way of engaging service users.
  3. Gathering feedback while the situation is still ‘fresh in the mind’ should provide information which is more accurate than a survey months later.

Open and honest communication with @_LaurenCook_. Followed by a few screen shots of the survey. A wide range of communication channels available. I count 12!

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here: https://whatsthepont.com/churchill-fellowship/

4 Responses

  1. Arriva have done loads to improve customer service – guess the question is how do they capture that feedback from those not using Twitter (who, as you say, were the more stressed ones). However, keeping tweeters happy is obviously paying off, they are the ones who can vocalise their issues with the service and get it seen by a lot of people!
    The idea of instant feedback is great – even if they don’t really act on it, just by giving commuters a voice it will increase their engagement.
    Look forward to more updates about this!

  2. An excellent post, thank you for the share … and yes I agree, lots of brownie points for AWT! I’ve sent South West Trains a tweet suggesting they take a peek at your post!

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