News from Metro's General Manager

Giving you the information you want, faster

December 18, 2015

This has been an extraordinary year for Metro. We were able to add about 230,000 hours of service, giving many of our customers more-frequent, more-reliable, and less-crowded bus rides.

White, second from left, stands with five members of  his communication center team.

We also improved communications with our riders. Our customer service team, led by Terry White, took a fresh look at the way they provided information, answered questions, and responded to comments and complaints. They realized they needed to reduce the time people spent waiting on the phone, follow up more quickly on complaints, and make better use of new communication tools. Then they analyzed their work processes to figure out what they could do better.

Here’s what happened:

They organized specialized customer response teams and made other adjustments, which increased the number of phone calls that are answered promptly by 65 percent. Now, more than 90 percent of calls to our customer information line are answered in less than 140 seconds.

Terry’s team also shaved 30 seconds off the average time it takes to provide trip-planning, lost-and-found, and general information to callers who ask for it.

They designed a system that cut the time it takes to receive, investigate, and respond to a customer complaint or comment by two-thirds (down from 15 days to five).

Remarkably, they achieved these gains while handling a 28 percent increase in customer contacts. (Our ridership reached a record high in 2014, and has continued to grow this year.)

Our customer service group is also reaching out more to customers by expanding their use of social media. Staff members now monitor buses on the road from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and tweet about congestion or events that could affect riders’ trips. They also respond to customer comments and questions. They tweet about 300 times each week, and have 38,000 followers on Twitter who help spread the word. That’s on top of the targeted email and text messages we send to 50,000 Transit Alert subscribers.

And that's not all. The same group also launched an automated lost-and-found system that lets customers submit online inquiries 24/7. The system automatically searches a database of lost items, sends a response, and emails the results of follow-up searches if the lost item isn’t found immediately.

More improvements are coming. For example, we plan to enhance our Mobile Trip Planner app to provide real-time notifications about service exceptions.

We always strive to deliver the best customer service and information we can, and it’s been a particular challenge this year with our rapid growth and with increasing service disruptions caused by traffic congestion and construction. I’m proud that Terry and his team are continually creating new ways to serve you better.


Kevin Desmond, General Manager
King County Metro Transit

Rob Gannon

Acting General Manager, King County Metro Transit

Photo of Acting General Manager, Rob Gannon

If you live in King county, Metro is your public transportation system. I want you to know about our performance and the innovative service improvements we’re bringing your way.

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