Arriva London: Improving Customer Service

A picture of Pete, a RiDC panel member, waiting at a bus stop in his wheelchair
Arriva London
20 Jan 2021

Arriva LoArriva's company logondon came to us for support in improving the customer experience of their elderly and disabled bus passengers, after surveys showed this was down. 

Understanding the experience of their customers 

Exceptional customer service is key for both Arriva London and Transport for London (TfL) who contract them to run bus services in the city. So, after feedback in the 2018 TfL general passenger surveys showed some poor performance in the experience reported by elderly and disabled passengers, it was imperative for them to find out more. As a key customer market for Arriva London, they wanted to better understand the experiences of these particular passengers, in order to inform and target their bus driver management, training and recruitment. Thus changing the way these passengers were treated and improving customer service for all their passengers.  

“Alongside answers to our pre-determined questions, quite a few of the people who are doing the surveys have put down how it made them feel. That’s an insight you won't get on most surveys or audits, and it really makes a difference because that's what becomes relatable to the driver”.  

Ben Parry, Head of Driver Recruitment & Training, at Arriva London 

Recording the impact of good and bad journey experiences 

With a large, pan-disability panel of over 1,700 disabled people, many of whom live in London, RiDC was brought in to give Arriva London the detail they needed. Initially delivering a pilot of 60 mystery passenger journeys, we now continue to provide an ongoing monitoring programme of 720 journey reports per annum. These mystery passenger journeys involve disabled and older passengers with different impairments taking the bus on the routes which show the highest rates of complaints. They carefully record the customer service experienced and driver interaction, which aims to build greater understanding of disabled and older customers’ needs and the impact of good and bad journey experiences.  

“Our work with RiDC ticks a lot of boxes for Arriva. It has given us some great extra customer service feedback, plus some specialist detail around disabled access and elderly customers, showing exactly how we can make their experience better.”  

Ben Parry, Head of Driver Recruitment & Training, Arriva London 

Journey reports feed into manager’s dashboard 

Each RiDC individual journey report is fed directly into Arriva’s employee performance management system, providing daily feedback onto garage managers’ dashboards. This enables managers to review the reports alongside any complaints and incidents and take action immediately. 

Arriva now reports a marked improvement in overall customer complaints and customer experience scores from the same TfL passenger survey.  

Our research has enabled Arriva to quickly investigate poor service and build detailed understanding of the problems. Importantly, it has provided detail that drivers can relate to. 

“Transport for London award the bus routes and it has really helped us distinguish ourselves from our competitors as we can show we are going the extra mile."

"Like TfL we believe every journey matters, and this is what we're doing about it.” 

Ben Parry, Head of Driver Recruitment & Training, Arriva London

In 2019 Ben Parry presented this work at the RiDC Research Exchange.

Read his presentation: Please move down the bus! Delivering a better customer experience for all, here.