A pioneering customer service course for bus drivers has helped slash complaints and drive up passenger numbers and satisfaction levels for bus services in the Liverpool City Region.
As part of the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance, Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach have jointly developed the bespoke training course, supported by more than £100,000 from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
As part of Liverpool City Region’s efforts to become both autism and dementia friendly, the training helps raise awareness of the specific needs associated with these conditions.
Since it was established in 2017, the course has been delivered 127 times, with more than 1400 drivers now trained – more than half of all bus drivers in the Bus Alliance area.
Since the training was introduced, the number of complaints relating to driver attitude on Stagecoach has dropped by 17%, and by 20% on Arriva.
And in 2017, passenger numbers grew by a further 6.6%, over and above growth in the previous two years of 9.7%, while overall satisfaction has gone up from 90% to 92% (5% higher than comparable regions) and satisfaction with how helpful drivers are and how they greet passengers is 5% better than other cities and increasing.
Speaking about the improvements, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, said:
“We know that the attitude of the bus driver is the biggest influence on what makes a great journey for customers. We also know that driving a bus in a busy urban environment is a highly skilled and complex job, requiring enormous patience and confidence.
“We have analysed what passengers have told us to create a really good training course that is enabling drivers to give great service, however stressful conditions may be, and the evidence shows that it is working.
“Providing a better experience for every passenger on our buses is at the heart of supporting the Bus Alliance’s key outcome targets of driving growth and improved customer satisfaction.”
Arriva Merseyside Managing Director, Howard Farrall commented:
"We are delighted with how well received the customer service training course has been. Passenger satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do at Arriva and so it is essential that our drivers receive the highest level of training in order to provide an exceptional service to all those who travel with us.
We are also extremely encouraged to see that the new scheme has increased passenger numbers and changed the perception of bus travel for the better, something which we hope to see grow in the future in order to help reduce air pollution and congestion in the city centre."
Stagecoach Managing Director, Rob Jones, said:
“Ensuring all our drivers are committed to delivering an outstanding passenger experience is at the heart of our business. We’re delighted to have worked closely with our Bus Alliance partners to create and deliver this innovative training programme. This builds on the training our drivers receive and will help ensure that customer service for people travelling by bus in Merseyside is second to none!”