Published July 11, 2016
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Innovation has opened a new avenue of communication between administrators and students at Texas A&M University, allowing for a better understanding of how the school’s on-campus transit system is performing.
Texas A&M, a school of more than 58,000 students located about 90 miles northwest of Houston, implemented BusBuzz Text Connect™ from Atlanta-based Passio Technologies on its Aggie Spirit bus system in January 2014. The response from drivers, students and administrators has been resoundingly positive.
BusBuzz allows passengers to provide instant feedback on drivers, vehicles, schedules and service using nothing more than a cell phone with text messaging capabilities. In turn, management can respond directly to riders’ feedback — both positive and negative — and track trends in real time.
“Since incorporating BusBuzz into Transit operations, we receive more compliments regarding our service than ever before,” said Madeline Dillard, assistant director for Transportation Services at Texas A&M. “When we receive compliments about our drivers, we share this feedback with them and believe it motivates them to continue providing great service.”
Broadly speaking, Passio has found that BusBuzz customers typically experience an average increase of 40 percent to 70 percent in passenger satisfaction within the first three months of using the system, said Mitch Skyer, president of Passio.
Simplicity and effectiveness are the hallmarks of the BusBuzz system. Passengers do not need to take the time to download a special app or software to provide feedback; they text feedback from their cell phone directly into a preset series of menu options. Supervisors and managers can monitor via the web, and a TextConnect Dashboard™ allows administrators to follow the history of the conversation, see responses and view reports.
“For many passengers, it is easier to offer criticism than it is to send a compliment,” Skyer said. “And, while BusBuzz will not eliminate complaints from riders, it will open up new opportunities to hear compliments that many systems would otherwise not receive. What we’ve seen is that when there is a way to easily offer a compliment, riders will take advantage of that opportunity.”
“Passengers determine if and how successful a system is,” Skyer said. “Feedback is important to understanding what riders are thinking and how employees are performing. In order to gather feedback, you need to make it easier for users to provide information, using the platforms they are already on, such as texting on their cell phones.”
Texas A&M Transportation Services maintains a 95-bus system that transports more than 8 million riders every year. To encourage passengers to give feedback, the system advertises BusBuzz on bus handles and the website.
“BusBuzz has been effective. Without a system in place to offer a perspective in real time, many riders would likely forget to follow up with a compliment later, after they step off the bus, Dillard said, meaning great service would go unnoticed.”
Between February 11 and March 30 of 2016, the university received a total of 111 compliments and complaints combined. Of those, more than 44 percent came in via BusBuzz; the rest came in via email, phone or social media.
“Sometimes people are quicker to criticize others than applaud them,” said Jaclyn Gallagher, administrative assistant in the Transportation Services department at Texas A&M. “On the other hand, I believe that our Aggie Spirit bus riders are great about sending in compliments highlighting the great job that our drivers do day-in and day-out.”
The inclusion of an offering that allows passengers to text feedback is part of a larger trend toward rolling out technology throughout a system — both customer-facing and behind the scenes.
“Many transit agencies are looking for applications that improve the passenger experience as well as help them make informed decisions,” Skyer said. “Whether its GPS tracking or passenger counting or customer feedback, transit systems need a platform that can grow and adapt as their needs become more complex. They need a solution that can expand as their needs evolve.”
Read the original article from Passio Technologies