The Société de transport de Laval (STL) released a positive assessment of its Quality Commitment Program (QCP), which it launched just over two years ago. Since 2017, the public transit authority has compensated riders almost 3,800 times, for a total of approximately $17,500. For the STL, this not a cost but an investment, one that has been yielding important benefits for the STL and its users.
Still the only customer service warranty of its kind in Canada, the QCP revolves around five key components: being on time, behaving politely, providing accurate and relevant information, ensuring a safe and comfortable ride, and keeping our equipment clean and well-maintained. This promise to customers covers regular bus service, shared taxis, and paratransit transportation.
Each compensation represents an opportunity to interact with riders in order to better understand them and meet their expectations. On occasion, it can also serve to defuse a frustrating situation. The Quality Commitment Program is an exercise in accountability and transparency, as well as a valuable customer retention and loyalty tool.
The Quality Commitment Program is an improved version of the Warranty of Quality, a similar program implemented in 2001. Three elements were revamped by the time the new program launched in 2017: coverage extended to paratransit transportation, compensation extended to free transit pass holders (family specials, Horizon 65+ free pass, etc.), and a broader range of compensation options. All told, for 18 years, the STL has been the only public transit authority in the country to adopt a quality pledge and back it with a rider compensation program.
Quote from STL’s Chairman of the Board, Éric Morasse
“At the STL, riders are our Number One priority. As a public body, we feel an obligation to provide quality service, and when we fail, riders receive compensation. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished, but there’s still room for improvement. Our results speak volumes, but we’re continuing to set the bar higher and strive toward our ultimate goal, that of getting even more Laval residents on board with trading in single-occupant driving for public transit.”
Customer satisfaction is up
Our average customer satisfaction score with respect to regular bus service rose from 7.3 on 10 in 2016 to 7.6 in 2019. What makes the higher score even more remarkable is that it comes as Laval’s traffic conditions worsen year after year. The STL’s strategic plan calls for the overall satisfaction score to reach 8 on 10 within 5 years.
Our paratransit transportation satisfaction score remained unchanged, holding steady at an enviable 8.4 on 10 between 2016 and 2018, despite a sharp increase in the number of trips, from approximately 480,000 in 2016 to the 536,000+ projected in 2019.
A survey conducted over the last six months, of riders who filed a complaint about punctuality, reveals an 81% satisfaction rate among respondents after receiving compensation. Separate research shows that more than 72% of respondents acknowledge an improvement in one or the other of the five components of the QCP.
Findings and opportunities for improvement
The STL uses the QCP alongside other tools to diagnose and assess its performance. For the last 30 months, the organization as a whole has been tasked with observing rider behaviour and how our performance matches up against the five service pledges we’ve undertaken to uphold. We have made several adjustments along the way to fine-tune certain elements of the program and our methods, in order to rectify the situations brought to our attention.
In 2017, we rolled out a sweeping continuous improvement process organization-wide, with our Quality Commitment Program as the linchpin of the STL’s strategic objectives. Combining the two sparked the momentum needed to refine our internal practices and reaffirm the rider-first mindset across all departments, especially operations, infrastructure, maintenance and customer service.
For more details : www.stl.laval.qc.ca/en/stl-quality-commitment