ttc customer service problems

TTC Management to All Employees: "Our Customers Deserve Better"

TTC Chief General Manager Gary Webster has just issued a stern statement to all Toronto Transit Commission employees concerning their roles in "allowing the TTC to drift into a culture of unacceptable operating discipline." In a rather rare move, the commission has also decided to share this full statement with the media.

Webster's memo suggests that rather than being reactive on a case-by-case basis and hoping that the few bad apples get the picture and adjust their behaviour, the commission will instead move to broadly reinforce that "employees need to be held accountable for their poor performance." He continues by firmly stating that the "culture of complacency and malaise that has seeped into our organization will end."

The statement follows a string of several recent highly publicized incidents involving poor performance in the realm of customer service, and what's resulted in a serious downward spiral in public sentiment towards the employees of our troubled transit system, calls for action including a Passengers' Bill of Rights, and web sites expressing frustration.

It's also unfortunately created a tense us-versus-them mentality that's turned your average Joe and Jane transit users into a mini-army of roving citizen reporters trying to record and blow the whistle on workers perceived to be slacking or inconveniencing riders.

I can image that much like in the photo above, TTC management have been driven up the wall with the outpouring of complaints and negative media attention. Hopefully this statement has some positive impact on both employee performance and the public's view. In the very least, it demonstrates that a call for action is coming from the top.

It'll also be interesting to see if Amalgamated Transit Union 113 head Bob Kinnear has a rebuttal to issue to the members of the union or the ridership - a response more official than this claw-back Tweet from a new, unconfirmed "ATU113" Twitter account.

Read the full statement below:

Our Customers Deserve Better

February 6, 2010

I don't know about you, but I am becoming increasingly tired of defending the reputation of the TTC; tired of explaining what is acceptable and what is not; and tired of stating the obvious: that much of the behaviour being reported is, indeed, unacceptable.

You have heard me say that I am proud of the TTC. I still am, but I am not proud of what we have been dealing with over the last several weeks.

Two weeks ago I said that the vast majority of TTC employees care about the organization and do a good job, but we can all do better. I asked everyone to respond well. Some of you did. Clearly, some of you did not.

We all have to accept responsibility for allowing the TTC to drift into a culture of unacceptable operating discipline. In other words, we have deemed it acceptable for some employees to not do all aspects of their jobs.

We have two choices. We can continue to react to issues, deal with individual employee problems, and hope that the rest of our employees get the message, behave themselves and not get caught doing something they should not be doing.

The other choice, and the one we are going to take, is a much broader approach. Expectations need to be clear, especially for frontline employees. And employees need to be held accountable for their poor performance.

We are in the customer service business, but some of the behaviour our customers have encountered recently would suggest otherwise. Our customers pay a fare and the City provides hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the TTC. This public transit agency belongs to the very people we serve.

As Chief General Manager, I am ultimately accountable to our customers. As employees, you - and you alone - are accountable for your actions. The culture of complacency and malaise that has seeped into our organization will end. I hold all of management responsible to make this happen. Reviews and plans are under way to address systemic issues regarding customer service, but real change starts with you.

Gary Webster
Chief General Manager


Photo: "CT Tram" by v i p e z.

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