‘Pathetic’ customer satisfaction rating shames train firm bosses

BOSSES at train operator First Capital Connect have described a recent customer satisfaction score as “pretty pathetic”.

Thursday, 12th April 2012, 6:01 pm

Only 33 per cent of customers were happy with the way delays were dealt with, despite overall customer satisfaction being rated at 80 per cent.

The firm, which runs the Bedford to Brighton Thameslink line, saw its punctuality drop from 92 per cent to 86 per cent in the four weeks up to March 3, with incidents south of the river in London to blame.

Customer services director Keith Jipps told Luton Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny board on Tuesday night that First Capital Connect was investing heavily to improve customer satisfaction.

“There are a number of delays out of our control but there are things we can do to manage the situation better,” he said.

“We have spent over one million pounds on customer information systems. We need to feed information a lot quicker to people so they don’t have to wait until they get to the station to find out what’s happening.”

He said the company was trying to improve its “human interaction” at stations and was making a move away from automated announcements when serious problems arose.

The end of more than three years of engineering works on May 18 was a chance to “get it right”, he said.

From May 19, trains will resume running through central London at night and during weekends.

Mr Jipps said: “There’s no hiding place now. We can make some really good improvements in the next 12 to 18 months.

“If we can’t get it right in this period of time we don’t deserve to be here anyway.”

Improvements to Luton station are also on the way, with a new bridge and lifts to all platforms are scheduled to be completed by March 2014.

The company also answered criticism of its current ‘Delay Repay’ compensation system, saying it was “challenging” and “bureaucratic”. Mr Jipps said: “There is a lot of work going on in the background on making it easier, because it is a nightmare for us, too.”

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