Editorial Archive

A Message from The Customer Advocate, CCO Chris Upfold

12/12/12 11:56 PM

Chris’s TTCast – 12/12/12

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Town Hall returns to City Hall

Hi, I’m Chief Customer Officer Chris Upfold and I’d like to provide you with a progress report, which was initially presented at our Customer Town Hall on November 15th.

We’ve heard clearly and passionately from our customers on a wide range of topics over the past year. So I’d like to take you through some of the progress that we’ve made as a result of the comments we’ve received through our Customer Service Centre, and from queries and questions we hear at our town halls and other customer meetings.

We’ve come a long way in the past year and I want to let you know how we’re doing:

On cleanliness: We’re now cleaning all of our trains at the end of the line before they re-enter the morning peak service. We’ve changed and refurbished all of our washrooms, and we’re cleaning them on a much more regular basis. We heard very clearly, especially at our inaugural town hall a year ago, that people didn’t want to use our washrooms. And the cleanliness of those washrooms is a real testament to how far we’ve come.

We’re also focussing on the cleanliness of the inside of our vehicles and the outside as well. Since that first town hall, we’ve brought our wash racks back into service for our trains so their exteriors are cleaner than they ever were before.

It’s really starting to show up in the commendations we’re getting from our customers. We’re turning things around. Where we used to get a lot of complaints, we’re now getting compliments. So what else have we done?

On fare purchase: For example, the last time we were at City Hall last year talking to our customers we had eight stations where you could buy a Metropass using a debit or credit card. From the end of December we’ll have every station be able to use a debit or credit card with the Collector to buy your Metropass. And as we work through our processes, and we improve things, we’ll look to offer more and more products at our booths because we know this is the service our customers expect from us. It’s a fine balance, but we need to get there.

We’ve also spruced up our Collector Booths. Yes, Presto is coming and there’ll be a lot less need for booths in the next few years. But right now they are shop fronts. How those booths look speaks largely to our credibility as an organization.

We’ve heard from our customers they want a smart card. A slow and progressive role out of Presto is underway and will be largely implemented by 2016. In fact, the TTC is already the second largest user of Presto. After GO Transit, we’re next with around 12,000 taps a day at the stations where we have it.

Talking to our customers: We’ve heard from people contacting our Customer Centre that they wouldn’t hear back, or they heard back too slow or too late. Part of that was because of the hours we kept – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week. So we doubled our hours of operation. The Customer Service Centre is now open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. We’re taking comments how people want to contact us: through Twitter and we’re taking all of our comments online. We’ve committed to get back to everybody. Right now we’re getting back to more than 90 per cent of people in five days or less. We’re also doing explainers on YouTube when we need to have major service diversions.

Tracking progress: It’s a critical part of our transformation, and we’re really focussed on tracking our progress and on being entirely honest and transparent. Our daily scorecards are posted on our website, and we wrap all of them up in a monthly scorecard that sits at the front of Andy’s CEO Report at each Commission meeting. We drive those measures into our divisions and down to every level so we know how every route is performing at any time of day. When we can measure we can change and we can improve. 

On customer satisfaction and measuring it: We’ve expanded our Customer Satisfaction Surveys and we’ve brought in a Mystery Shopper Survey. We now have more than 1,100 mystery shops a quarter and asking the same number on our Customer Satisfaction Survey of people going around the system and understanding on how we’re doing. That gives us a wealth of information to manage our people and our service.

And we’re focussed on really partnering with our customers. We’ve had a couple of ad campaigns explaining how our customers are our partners in keeping the system running. We need to be partners in keeping Toronto moving, and we can’t do that without the co-operation from our customers.

On the Request Stop: We’ve expanded the program as a result of direct feedback from our customers. Although previously it was open to women only on buses between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., it’s now available to anyone that feels vulnerable.

So although we’ve done a lot in the last year, what’s coming next? Clearly, we need to keep providing more service and better service, and continue to manage that service well. When we held our first town hall we had just been through some tough rounds of budgets and we had withdrawn some service. This December, despite those cutbacks, we’ll actually have more hours of service on the street than we did a year ago – and more hours of service that we ever have. We clearly have more customers and we know it’s still busy out there. But we are continuing to expand our service.

Wi-Fi is coming to our stations. We’re looking at uniforms to instill pride in our staff and customers. New, low-floor streetcars begin to roll in 2015 and enter customer service; we have nearly 30 Toronto Rockets on the Yonge-University-Spadina line; and articulated buses are arriving next year to help manage our capacity.

And in January, again as a direct result of feedback from customers, the 192 Airport service will have luggage racks to provide the customer service that our customers are asking for.

And starting in the next few weeks on the 94 Wellesley route, we’ll test a new model of bus stop poles and a new model of maps to provide the information that our customers have been demanding.

So in short, we’ve heard our customers and we’re responding. And it’s with help from you and partnership with everybody that we’ll continue to get better and better. Happy holidays, everyone!

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