Since I work in a large city, I’ve decided to take public transit to work rather than battling traffic. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is under a lot of fire these days for very poor customer service. I have been taking transit for a long time and I’ve seen it all. A lot of it comes down to just using common sense even if it conflicts with a rule that at some point may have made sense. Here is a great example.
The TTC has a streetcar along a few routes that follow a “proof of purchase” rule during rush hour. That means that you can enter a streetcar through any door without actually paying anything but you need to show proof of payment if somebody asks. I take the subway downtown and then go topside and take the streetcar. On one of my recent trips I got downtown and realized I forgot to get a transfer (proof of purchase paper) when I jumped on the subway at the top of line. Before I exited the subway I took one. It looked something like this:
As I went up the steps to street level I see a streetcar, do my 100 meter dash and just make the streetcar. The driver asks for a proof of purchase (I entered through the front door). Out of breath and happy to have made the streetcar I happily flash my transfer. He tells me that “you can’t use that here. It says right on it that you can’t use that at this station”.
I respond “why not, first off, this isn’t the station, we’re on the street. besides that, I took the subway downtown and have already paid my fare. What difference does it make where I got my transfer?” He tells me that rules are rules and you need to get a transfer from where you first got on the subway. “Read the back of the transfer”.
I told him I know that but I forgot to. I then went on to say “does this really matter? You know I already paid my fare. If you don’t let me board, I’ll just get off and take the next streetcar. Is this really worth it?” He was fixated on the rules and wouldn’t let me stay on. I shook my head, stepped off and thought about test driving some cars on the weekend. I got on the next streetcar without any issues.
Here are some things to consider:
- What rules does your customer service team follow that just don’t make any sense? Have you surveyed your customers and/or team to find out what they may be?
- What type of training are you providing your teams on how to use common sense? How are you rewarding teams for going over and above for customers?
- Do you have a customer service culture that reinforces going outside the box for customers if it makes sense?
I hope this story helps – when all else fails, use your brain.