Monday, 18 November 2013

Bus running late? Grab a coffee!

Sometimes the simple ideas are the best, and this moment of inspiration from my Velvet colleague Mikey deserves a mention.

At this time of year rush hour traffic doesn't need much help to be a nightmare, but last Thursday was especially bad.  A combination of factors meant that it was taking buses on the A around two hours to complete the scheduled 75 minute journey from Eastleigh to Southampton, on a freezing cold night.

Mikey was in the office watching the tracker, monitoring the slow progress of buses around the network and tweeting regular updates to the world.

One trip was causing us particular concern, the 1645 A from Eastleigh to Southampton which was due to return as the 1810 from Southampton.  As this bus passed through Hedge End on its way into Southampton, some time after it should have left to come back, Mikey tweeted this...
Velvet A: Customers waiting for 1810 from Soton - H'End, get in the warm, grab a coffee, keep the receipt and driver will reimburse the cost
This was done without any prior consultation, discussion or planning, just an idea from Mikey in that moment to try to minimise people's pain.

And the best bit is, some people did exactly that.  They went and got a coffee, and our driver Martin reimbursed them.  Mikey had texted Martin when he made the decision and luckily Martin picked up the text when he was in town.  But Mikey was confident that even if he didn't, the worst that would have happened would have been Martin phoning him to try to understand why people were presenting him with coffee receipts.

As with most customer service initiatives, it is impossible to quantify the exact benefit of that decision, but at the very least it hopefully helped reassure some of our regulars that we certainly do care about them and will do our best to look after them even when things are going wrong.

I am lucky enough to be present at the UK Bus Awards tomorrow (not winning anything I might add). But for me, that kind of split-second customer focussed decision deserves an award in itself!