ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Customer Service

Bus Services staff helping to keep transit clean

.

Keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been our priority. Across the system, we’ve enhanced our cleaning procedures, equipped buses with temporary barriers and reinforced physical distancing measures.

The servicepersons on our Bus Services team have been fundamental in this effort – their dedication, adaptability and incredible work ethic have helped Coast Mountain Bus Company deliver transit services to thousands of people who rely on us. Read more »

How TransLink Learned to Connect the World to the Olympic Games One Tweet at a Time

Few people know that the 2010 Olympics played a major role in getting the ball rolling on connecting our customer with transit information in real time via Twitter. The games inspired the Twitter pilot project in Fall 2010, and laid the foundation for how we communicate online with over 200,000 customers today. We sat down with Derek Zabel, Manager at Compass Operations Solutions and one of the main initiators of the Olympics pilot project on Twitter , to take a walk down the memory lane and see how everything started. 

 

Derek Zabel talking on the phone at CMBC office, 2015

Derek Zabel at Coast Mountain Bus Company’s office, 2015.

TransLink’s Twitter was around for so long that it’s difficult to imagine TransLink’scustomer service without it. Can you tell us more about how it all began?

Back in 2010, I was working on the Media Relations team with Coast Mountain Bus Company. Winter Olympics brought thousands of people to Vancouver and our team worked hard to make sure we could engage with the visitors and our regular customers in a timely and efficient manner.

The idea was sparked by our Director of Communication at the time, Ken Hardie. He wanted to connect to customers on a completely new platform. So during that time we had some discussions between Ken, others and myself – what can we do to equip people with as much information about transit as possible?

Twitter during that time was a place for people to get information from news media. Initially we planned to use Twitter to communicate with the press. But when we looked at the other transportation agencies, no one was really utilizing Twitter for customer service, so we kind of took a risk.

What were your team’s main objectives with getting Twitter running?

We really wanted to ensure that our customers would have all the information they needed at their fingertips.  We wanted to inform them about all the different service delays, numerous buses that we brought in to try to get people to various venues. And, most importantly, we wanted to make sure we can engage with them almost instantaneously. If anyone had a question about transportation or logistics for the Olympics events, we were on top of it and ready to respond. Our main goal was to make sure everyone could get to their end destinations, whether it was a hockey game, training locations or their homes.

How was the Twitter Team set up?

During the Olympics, I was an acting Director of Communications for a couple of weeks and had a small team of about four people. We would come in at 6 o’clock at night and would leave at about 6 in the morning. That was because various events in the city, including hockey games, were happening in the evening. We each had Tweet Deck set up and we had all those different streams lined up. We’d pick up hashtags and reply to people who’d mention us.

What were you main challenges?  

Having small teams communicating with thousands of new visitors was one of the main challenges. At the end of the day, Olympics for us was really about engagement and connection. We wanted to leave a good impression about Vancouver and our transportation system and ensure our customers’ experience of transit was as seamless as possible so they could enjoy the events. It was a real chance for our organization to shine. Of course, service delays and changes happened too. But our task was always to respond to customers instantaneously. Even if they were saying something about it negatively, it did not matter. We would reach out to them saying “You know we’re sorry you cannot get on that bus, but there is another one coming and it has more space or something like that”.  And I think that made a very good inroads to our customers and helped us to navigate through the major challenges.

What do you think was the legacy of this project on how we communicate with customers today?

Our initiative was so successful that it encouraged TransLink to roll out a month-long Twitter pilot project later that year and was subsequently handed over to the Customer Information team. After the Olympics, a lot of organizations were reaching back to us with positive feedback. I think we broke the ground on trying to engage with customers socially and in real-time fashion for a lot of transportation agencies across the world. We started with a few hundred followers and ten years later our Twitter following is phenomenal.

Today our Customer Information team provides updates about TransLink buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, Handy DART, and WestCoast Express, responding to over 100 questions on Twitter daily and keeping an eye on important alerts. Do you follow @TransLink on Twitter? Perhaps you were around in 2010 and have a story about your engagement with us on Twitter? If so, let us know – we’d love to hear about it! Who knows, maybe we’ll get the Olympics again.

 

 

How a resourceful transit supervisor reunited a lost wallet with its owner

Transit supervisor Todd Hancock doesn’t consider himself extraordinary or even a Good Samaritan. He says he simply did what he believes was the right thing to do.

The passenger had one foot in a floatplane at Vancouver International Water Airport in Richmond when transit supervisor Todd Hancock appeared with his lost wallet.

It was the culmination of a frantic search for the 24-year Coast Mountain Bus Company veteran that began at Bridgeport Station when Jinder Gill, a transit operator, turned the wallet in to Hancock.

Understanding the importance of reuniting a lost wallet with its owner, Hancock tried what he could from his vehicle after calling it in to T-Comm. He tried searching the owner’s name online, hoping to find a phone number, to no avail.

“I thought if I contact him in some way to let him know we have his wallet then that could offer some sort of relief,” says Hancock. “Takes a little bit off his mind.”

He then received a call about a bus needing attention at the airport and headed that way. After taking care of the bus, some quick thinking by Hancock made the reunion possible.

“I thought that since the wallet had come off our C92 [which operates between Bridgeport Station and Sea Island South],” says Hancock. “Maybe by chance the Seair or Harbour Air locations had a customer looking for their wallet.”

Hancock asked the attendant at the Seair counter if someone matching the name found in the wallet had come through. Sure enough there was.

“A woman behind me said that he was just getting on the seaplane,” Hancock recalls. “One of the staff members let me through the gate and we both ran down to the dock. We were yelling the passenger’s name.”

At last the lost wallet was reunited with its owner.

The passenger was ecstatic that his wallet had been found. Passengers aboard the floatplane also thanked Hancock by giving him a big round of applause.

“When people lose their wallet, it’s not about the money. It’s having to cancel cards and the potential of ID fraud. I felt good about him getting it back.”

What do I do if I left something behind transit?

Visit translink.ca/lostproperty and fill out the form to report what was lost, and we’ll see if someone has turned it in. You can also visit the Lost Property Office at Stadium–Chinatown Station, Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Saturday (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.), or call them at 604.953.3334, Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What can I do if I find a lost item on transit?

You can turn it in to our transit staff and we’ll make sure it gets to the Lost Property Office so it can be reunited with its owner.

Find out how transit operator Nigel Clare reunited an iPad with its owner.

Customer Relations and Customer Information form one call centre

Members of our Customer Relations department in action.

Members of our Customer Relations department in action.

TransLink is combining two of our most popular phone numbers into one – making information and customer service more accessible for our riders.

Starting today, June 6, 2016, Customer Relations (CR) and Customer Information (CI – the folks on Twitter!) are merging into one call centre.

This means when you call 604-953-3333 you will still get transit information, but you can also leave feedback at this number as well!

Creating a one-stop-shop for customer needs also means you can leave feedback during CI’s extended hours – Monday to Friday from 5:30 am to 12:30 am, and weekends from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm.

As of June 6th, all calls coming into CR will be automatically redirected to CI to make a seamless transition for customers.

Have questions or comments on the new call centre?
Comment below or tweet us!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Regional Commissioner approves TransLink’s customer survey and complaints processes, with conditions attached

Martin Crilly, TransLink’s Regional Transportation Commissioner, plays an independent advisory and approval role in TransLink’s governance structure. (Here’s a link with a diagram describing how his role relates to the Board and others.)

Among many things, the Commissioner is responsible for approving of TransLink’s customer complaints processes, and today he made an announcement stating that he’s approving of those processes, with a few conditions attached.

As the press release describes:

Overall, the Commissioner found that TransLink’s current customer survey process enables TransLink to gather meaningful customer feedback and input, and act on it. Mr. Crilly’s approval order also notes that TransLink conducts customer satisfaction surveys more frequently than the statutory minimum of one year, and that its survey process compares favourably with other Canadian transit operators.

The Commissioner’s approval of the current customer complaints process is conditional on TransLink demonstrating over the coming year that it is identifying patterns and trends in customer complaints, reporting them to its respective Boards, and tracking progress in addressing the causes of complaints.

Check out the Commissioner’s website for the full investigation into our complaints processes. (There’s even a 17-page PDF available with immense detail on the complaints structure from all our subsidiaries, if you like detail.)