The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is turning to third-party private consultants to investigate and solve its customer service problems. Last year, the TTC says it received about 31,000 complaints, an increase of 15 percent from the year before that. Fare increases, delays, rude employees and restrictions on token purchases are among the top complaints according to the transit operator.
However the biggest problem with Canada’s largest transit system won’t be resolved by spending the estimated tens of thousands of dollars on these private consultants.
A world-class city, such as Toronto, can afford to spend the big bucks to bring in only the best of the best to listen, consult and then advise the TTC on how to improve their customer service.
And when you pay the big bucks, you usually get what you pay for – exceptional advice.
But that’s just the problem with the TTC – they don’t listen to, or act on the advice from their customers. So spending tens of thousands of dollars they don’t have – they probably will raise fares to cover this expense – is money in, money out, and money gone without any result.
Many companies hire consultants to research, investigate, and resolve their various issues and concerns. But it is up to the company to implement the solutions their consultants suggested. And there are infinite examples of companies spending mega-bucks on high-priced consultants, only to ignore those consultants, try their own fixes, or worse, just continue doing business as they always have been.
Now no one can predict the future, so maybe – just maybe – the TTC will actually take their consultants word as the new way to win back customers.
But stop and think for a second, according to the TTC, they admit to receiving over 31,000 complaints from their customers. Not every complaint comes with a solution, and many of those complaints may be unjustified, or unfair. We all have bad days, and sometimes all it takes is that one last straw to break, and we’ll go off venting our rage, digging into whoever or whatever happens to be around at the time.
Though when you get about 31,000 complaints, some of them are bound to be valid, and many of those valid complaints may even have solutions impeded within them.
And that is the real cause for all the fuss – a serious lack of listening.
Canada’s largest public transit operator just doesn’t listen to its customers. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on complete strangers to figure out what is wrong with the system, and how to fix it.
If even just a handful of people call in to complain about a bus route which never follows the posted schedule, do you really need to spend thousands of dollars to figure out what to do? The solutions are simple – ride with the drivers on that route to figure out if the schedule is out of whack with reality, change it, and post the new schedule so that passengers know it.
If a number of people complain that a specific bus driver on a specific bus route is always rude, drives dangerously, and freaks out the passengers with sudden stops, running red lights and other pleasantries, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to solve this problem. Replace the bus driver – simple – done and it didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars in consultation fees.
Companies which listen to their customers – their complaints, concerns and kudos – succeed. They are the ones that know their customers, and know what they are doing right and wrong, so they can continue to do the right things, while working to improve the things which their customers can’t stand.
If anyone at the TTC is listening – which would be a pleasant surprise – don’t spend money on consultants to tell you what you already know or have access too. Just take the time to listen to your customers, and do what you can to make things right with them.