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What makes a customer happy? This is perhaps the most asked question in the world of customer service, yet remains a perplexing subject for people in that field of business.

At one point in his leadership, SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming asked his team the same question. However, he didn’t stop there; he took it a step further and his decision to do so has paved the way for significant changes in the different areas of the organisation, especially on the ground.

Moving an Upward Trend

The chairman’s introduction of the Kaizen method in the workplace was a pivotal moment that changed the work culture and the employees’ attitude towards work. This led to an increase in employee morale, and this positive effect had a direct impact in their work performance.

A renewed sense of ownership was instilled in the employees and this made their roles more important and clearer to them. The new outlook of the employees triggered a shift in customer service and these changes did not go unnoticed.

As the employees’ morale improved, the chairman decided it was time to take the next step and hire an officer whose role is dedicated to the improvement of customer service and the whole riding journey.

Investing in Communications and Technology

When the chairman said “commuters are at the heart of everything that we do at SMRT”, he was determined to make SMRT a passenger-centric organisation. Hence, the appointment of a commuter engagement officer, whose role is to look into process and environmental matters that affect the commuters’ journey experience.

Since the chairman’s appointment of a commuter engagement officer, SMRT’s customer satisfaction rating has started to move an upward direction. In a survey conducted in late 2020, riders say they feel happier about the service.

The Importance of Customer Engagement in Fostering a Passenger-Centric Environment

Customer engagement provides customers a way to communicate with the business through various touch points, with social media being the most popular of all. Through social media channels, customers can send queries and get real time answers.

For the business, this means an opportunity to make better and more precise decisions when it comes to customer service and more targeted service improvements that will benefit the passengers. Here are the ways SMRT got customer engagement right.

    • Using customer survey results and customer feedback

    This method is an excellent way to create services that passengers find useful and play an important part in the daily journey of the commuter.

    • Making information accessible

    Passengers know where to go for train service and maintenance updates. This gives them the ability to re-plan their route and be the first ones to know if there are any service interruptions in their area. SMRT has a Twitter account where they post maintenance updates or changes in schedules, whenever there are any.

    • Using Real Time Feedback Tools

    SMRT deployed the Travel Experience Terminals (TExT) deployed at key stations that allow commuters to provide immediate feedback on their journey experience. This was the first of two campaigns and was designed to gauge how satisfied commuters are with the service.

    The question at the TExT reads “I can see that SMRT staffs are working hard to improve my travel experience” — to which 81% of the survey participants responded positively.

    • Involving the commuters in rolling out changes and improvements

    The second campaign was launched shortly after, and invited commuters to share their thoughts about the current status of the ageing network. The survey was also designed to gauge the commuter’s understanding of the benefits of the renewal work being carried out by management.

    This ensures that the commuters understand that the work being carried out by management is meant to improve their daily commute. This form of engagement makes customers feel that they are part of the process and promotes their trust and confidence in the organisation.

     At the end of the first campaign, 88% of the respondents say that they can see that the staff is working hard for them. At the end of the second campaign, over 90% of the respondents say that they understand the benefits of the renewal work being carried out by management.

    Suffice to say, the new approach is working well for the business and the customers feel more engaged every step of the way.

    The communication strategy that SMRT has in place allows them to connect with their customers in a more targeted manner. It helps them create better services that are aligned to the needs of their customers. As a result, customers feel happier about the service and keep them top of mind at all times.