Railways and Customer Satisfaction

By | Category: Travel rumblings

It is unusual that customer satisfaction gets mentioned by a government. It merits interest especially if it looks as though there is genuine interest rather than lip service in what passengers think. 

Lord Bradshaw who worked for various parts of British Rail in his career asked whether additional measures of customer satisfaction would be added to the requirements when companies bid for new rail franchises.

Since 1999 passengers have been asked twice a year on behalf of the rail consumer watchdog, Passenger Focus, a series of questions including being asked to rate satisfaction with a number of elements of the service provided. Called the National Passenger Survey, they ask about 25,000 passengers twice a year what they think of the services provided by the different rail companies. The survey results for last autumn are due to be published in early February and, as previously, we will let you know the results.

Anyway back to the plot. It appears additional targets on satisfaction were included in the September 2009 renewal franchise to Southern Railway. And Lord Adonis has said that these wider, exacting targets will be included in all future franchise targets.

It is quite difficult to measure satisfaction. The week that you ask people shouldn’t be one where there is snow creating major delays otherwise satisfaction levels slump and you are not being fair to the railway company. Equally, you don’t want it be just in quiet times so Passenger Focus tries to do it throughout the day to try and achieve fairness.

But remember the National Passenger Survey is not the be all end all. Each franchised railway company has a passenger panel that you can try and join as well.

And when you get approached over the next few months to fill in the Spring 2010 survey do just that. Because what Passenger Focus can’t measure is what you think of the rail service if you don’t tell them

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