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Customer Service Training for Bus Drivers


I've been tasked with developing a customer service training course for bus drivers and whilst I've developed many such courses in the past for retail and call centre staff I'm struggling with this particular session. The main difficulty I have is that the drivers only have about a 30 second window in which to interact with their "customers" as they board the bus, unlike most service type roles where there's more of an opportunity to build reapprt etc. Any ideas on content or approach would be gratefuly recieved.

7 Responses

  1. Bus User

    I have no experience of customer service training, but as a bus user…just getting them to smile and be polite would be a big improvement.

    Apart from the odd "character" who thinks he is "on stage" the vast majority in my experience are very very grumpy!

  2. put themselves in the customers’ shoes

    Rather than giving them content I would ask them a series of questions for discussion and debate, particularly since the bus system is still under so much pressure from alternative forms of transport.

    1. Why do people travel by bus?

    2. What does the bus offer that other forms of transport lack?

    3. What is the customer/passenger's main criteria with regard to their journey?

    4. What can we do to make that journey more pleasant on a daily basis? (ie to make it sustainable for this passenger?)

    You could also prepare small 'persona' of different, typical bus travellers; a commuter, a shopper, a reveller, a tourist, a disabled traveller (of any one of a range of different disabilities), a couple, a parent, a teacher with a small group.  Use these to challenge the delegates to see the needs of the different travellers and therefore their perceptions of the drivers and the service.

    Consider also the different times of day; when my (then) girlfriend lived in SW London, the night bus would often terminate in an unscheduled fashion some three quarters of a mile short of her destination…..she then had to walk, at almost midnight, through the streets to get home.  Get them to consider the consequences of this for the different traveller profiles. 

    If you can get hold of an old Canadian (I think) video, entitled Defusing Hostility, it has a good session on board a bus with a passenger who is clearly inebriated and insulting the driver……which might be quite useful.


  3. National Express Bus
    As one of the judges of last weeks Learning Awards you may want to check out National Express Bus who won the award for Best Internal Training Project of the Year.
    A lot of the issues that you mention were also issues that they encounted and I am sure that they would be happy to share there thoughts – check out the info on the project here and I if interested let me know directly and I can try and connect you with the relevant conatct.

  4. Bus Drivers


    We have been doing some customer care training for a public transport undertaking -rail/ferry/tram AND BUS drivers! We can give lots of free ideas and activities that you will be able to tweak

    [email protected]



  5. a tough nut to crack

    I recently did some customer service training with our Train Drivers, and while they have even less interaction with customers that bus drivers do, they did understand and appreciate that they can positively impact the customer's journey from making announcements, giving advice when they are on the way to the train and giving the passengers a smooth and safe journey. 

    If you can spend some time with them this will not only help you understand what they go through, but also build credibilty when you are delivering the sessions.

    I was pleasantly surprised about how "up for it" the drivers were after initally expecting a lot of resistance and "customer service isn't my job"

  6. Make their day

    Fish Philosophy sounds perfect for this.

    Key Principles:

    – Be There: Be fully present, stay connected and open to the people around you. This is a choice. Focus on the person in front of you and respond.

    – Play: creativity, lightheartedness, finding a better way, how to do your job more effectively, how to handle unique situations (get them to share how they have handled situations in a playful way). It means different things to different people but essentially it could be about being friendly, ready to serve or laughing out loud.

    – Make their day: do something nice for someone else (because you can). Find simple ways to connect, serve or delight others in a meaningful way.

    – Choose your attitude: the world is full of unpleasant people and frustrating situations. This isn't always easy but only you can choose to put yourself in a bad mood. Become aware of what your attitude is and accept you are the one choosing it.

    I don't actually think these guys need a lesson in what customer service means, but attitude and recognising they are there for the people of the community is really important. They are more than just a bus driver!  

  7. Keep it Real


    I developed a workshop programme some years ago for the train captains on the London Docklands Light Railway. The truth is it didnt go very well until the last day of three two day workshops. To cut a long story short this is what I learnt:

    1) NOTHING theoretical no "models of behaviour"

    2) NOTHING metaphorical

    3) Teach more, facilitate less (sorry sounds like I am blaspeming, but their learning experiences until your workshop are as as people responsible for safety, there is a right and wrong, they will want a more didactic approach, "exploration" and uncertainty didnt land well in my experience with similar folk 

    4) build it on REAL scenarios and Role play, start slow and simple  

    5) Go out and talk to their collegues get video of others experiences and how they have dealt with customer service for real, drop these interviews into the workshop as energisers, quick lessons etc.

    6) Model as closely to their own real world experiences

    I am a big fan of Fish, if you use it, use it at the back end of the training when they  trust you and have taken a few risks themselves (good call from Lisa)

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