(PDF) Customer services: A part of market orientation

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LONDON UNDERGROUNDCUSTOMER SERVICE
TABLE OF CONTENTSTitle:.................................................................................................................................................1CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................11.1 Study background..................................................................................................................11.2 Rationale................................................................................................................................11.3 Aim........................................................................................................................................21.4 Objectives..............................................................................................................................21.5 Research questions.................................................................................................................21.6 Significance of the study.......................................................................................................3CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW.........................................................................................3London underground services......................................................................................................3Expected features and actions of underground services..............................................................5Gaps between existing and expected underground customer services........................................6RESEARCH METHODOLOGY..................................................................................................10DATA ANALYSIS.......................................................................................................................13FINDINGS.....................................................................................................................................28RECOMMENDATIONS...............................................................................................................29CONCLUSION..............................................................................................................................31REFERENCES..............................................................................................................................32APPENDIX......................................................................................................................................1
Title:“London Underground customer service, a comparison between promises versusreality”CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION1.1 Study backgroundThe London underground (LU) is one of the rapid public transportation system which isalso known as tube. LU originate in Metropolitan railway and uses tunnels just below thesurface. Gradually smaller and circular tunnels of tube like structure were developed forproviding a convenient and fast method of transportation. In 1988 public private partnership(PPP) was initiated by Labour government for modernisation of London tube system. Thought heunderground assets are liable for the public ownership but under PPP the private companies werealso allowed to made investments(Mejia-Dorantes and Lucas, 2014). Tube lines and Metonetwere the first to invest but in 2007 the partnership was failed and their liabilities wereunderwritten. Thus, for improving the public transportation services significant investment wasrequired in London underground so that stations, tracks and rolling stocks can be stored.As a result of deteriorating infrastructure it was becoming challenging for thetransportation authorities to control the rising maintenance and operational cost as well asefficiency. There was great need of investments. The inefficient management practices causedseveral operational inefficiencies so that stations and trains can be operated in affordable price.The system needed significant changes so that without adding any extra cost to taxpayerstransportation services can be improved. Contrary to the expectations of providing high qualityand quick transportation services all over London, underground services are highly criticisedregarding safety implications, unambitious target, high cost as well as high profits for consortium(Murugadas and et.al., 2015). The conflict between private and PPP ownership has also been oneof the controversial factor.1.2 RationaleIn the year 2003 a 30 year agreement was signed between LU limited and Metronet, Tubeline consortium so that underground lines can be renewed and safe and continuous operation canbe assured. The agreement was locked by taking a huge loan of 1.3 billion from Europeaninvestment banks. Thus, it is mandatory for the investors to modernise and safely operate thetransport system so that desired profits can be earned(Newton, Partridge and Gill, 2015).1
However, in order to improve the operational efficiency it is very essential to identify the gapsand operational limitations which are affecting the satisfactory services to passengers. Thus, it isvery important to analyse the functional and operational gaps are identified and such hugeinvestment can be prevented from the loss.In addition, the underground transportation system is also very significant service facilityas it allows public to have low cost transport services(Ossa-Moreno, Smith and Mijic, 2017). Ascompare to other means of transportation it can be considered as more feasible interms of costand time. The majority of residents of London prefer the underground services. The abolishmentof such service will affect millions of people and their day to day life. The purpose choosing thistheme for the study is that LU services are the integral part of the local citizens as well astourists. If the quality of these services is not analysed and improvedthen it will becomeimpossible for the authorities to retain these services for long term. The study will also help toevaluate the factors which are affecting quality of services(Rode and et.al., 2015).Thus, the analysis of differences between promises and realistic service quality will beappropriate to analyse the reason behind declining revenues of underground services. Anotherreason for the selection of this study is that LU has such huge network of underground serviceswhich are comforting and vital for the customers. These services also balances the transportationload of the city as for long distances instead of using personal vehicles people used to preferthese low cost and time saving mediums(Stockx, Hecht and Schöning, 2014). Thus, it is veryimportant to understand the various issues associated with these public services so that theirquality can be enhanced and attention of authorities and public can be drawn towards the issue.1.3 AimTo compare and analyse the actual and expected evaluation of the London Underground(LU) customer service: A case study on Transport for London (TFL).1.4 ObjectivesTo analyse the London underground customer services.To determine the expected outcomes and service implications of London undergroundservices.To compare the existing underground services with the expected models.1.5 Research questionsWhat are London underground services?2
What are the expected implications associated with the underground services.How existing infrastructure and model of underground services differs from theexpectations?1.6 Significance of the studyThe operation of LU has been in regular controversies due to ownership issues andlosses. The operating agencies such as Tube lines and Metronet demanded for increasing publicmoney. The functional and infrastructure drawbacks can be considered as the major reason forsuch inefficiencies in its operations(Williams and Martinez-Perez, 2014). Thus, it is veryessential to analyse the operational gaps in LU so that these gaps can be compared and necessaryimprovements can be made to amend the situation. The LU services has been facing variousissues regarding ticket booking, stations, safety implications of the infrastructure and itsemployees(Sun and et.al., 2014). Thus, the analysis of various gaps in the implementedtransportation system will not only help to address the current deficits but will also identify thegaps which must be addressed for improving this public transportation infrastructure.The study can also be considered as significant in terms of evaluating the gaps which areinvolved in successful management and execution of such large project of public welfare. Thefindings from the study will play critical role in advancements and improvements which can beapplied to other public service systems which are suffering from operational or quality relatedissues(Whitford, 2017). Another significant contribution of conducting the study is that findingsfrom the study will help to recommended suitable suggestions so that LU services can becustomized more efficiently as per the needs of the people.CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEWLondon underground servicesThe heavy investment by the authorities in the transportation services has broughtsignificant improvement in the transportation system of London. The LU is often overcrowdedgiving some relaxation to the congested road network of the city. According toAdmiraal andCornaro, (2016)improvements in the public services is an integral part of the development ofcity and thus it must be accomplished with appropriate analysis. In order to provide the long termand continuous infrastructural development initially LU maintained and implemented underpublic private partnership (PPP). The regular improvement and renewal plans for the LU aims at3
adding tracks, escalators, stations and train lines so that range of these services can be increasedand majority of the people can use these services.As perConnor, (2015)LU services can be considered as one of the biggest publicprojects and thus it is required and responsibility of the authorities to make it successful.However, despite several improvements and up gradation plans various critical assets were notfocused. These assets include lifts, track, stations and escalators as well. The undergroundservices can be improved by considering various operational areas which affect the qualityperformance of the transport services. For example according to TFL LU services arecontinuously improving but still there is need to focus on volume of trains and total customerhours. There are several assets at the underground stations which need maintenance or theimprovements.The failure of these assets often causes delay in the trains and thus aggregate cost interms of customer times is increased.D’Lima and Medda, (2015)stated that in theimplementation of such wide rail network especially for the public, PPP may not be consideredas highly effective. Through this type of ownership government regularities tend to attractprivate investors but the safety liability is not held by them. It has an adverse impact upon thelong term success of the organisation. The public finance initiatives and PPI for the LU lines hadissues in its contracts and thus serious ambiguities and unclarity in the operational methodscaused huge inefficiencies in the work procedures. For instance due to various issues faced inPPP administrators there were increased risk of cost overrun and it affected the refurbishmentprograms.Along with these are facing it hard to monitor the operational cost. The frequentmanagement changes also cause instability in the operational approaches of the undergroundlines.Delmastro, Lavagno and Schranz, (2016)stated that under PPP model when publicservices are handover to private organisations then it is possible that for providing benefits tospecific companies then it becomes quite challenging focusing and review on cost analysis andmonitoring. Due to same reason several challenges such as delayed revision of the maintenanceplans, availability of material and supplier are identified as major constraints for the projectmanagement. One of the reason which lead to huge and wide gap between the efficientperformance of LU than its expected profitability goals is that the project does not integrateaffordability its principle in its requirements.4
According toGerasimova, (2016)LU service stations are facing losses and series ofcriticism for its decisions. For example at Northfield station prior to the three months of thecompletion of a construction phase the authorities made request for revision of the plan. As aresult, the construction process took additional 35-50 days. Thus, it has been analysed that lackof clarity and transparency among stakeholders, inappropriate model of ownership, poor decisionmaking are the major factors which are responsible for the poor service quality of the highlymodernised and well developed underground public transportation network.Expected features and actions of underground servicesAs per the view ofGreen, Jones and Roberts, (2014)tube tunnels or the LU services havebeen committed to the satisfactory customer services. In order to provide these servicesauthorities have been regularly trying to include services which can increase the value ofcustomer experience in the underground trains. Though London transport authority has alsoplanned to cut or delay various improvement plans for some of its tubes or tunnels but still thisunderground services remains the preferred choice of the customers. Hence, it is required thatthese services must be improved so that their safety and reliability can be achieved. Looking atthe huge crowd it becomes necessary for the authorities to assure the sufficient number of staffmembers at the stations so that customers does not face any challenges in completion of theirjourney (London Underground,2019).All possible attempts are made by the authorities to assure that flexible staffing ispossible so that even on holidays or the line networks working at night also does not experienceany shortcomings on behalf of the staff members. The tracks in LU also provide support andpermission to district and metropolitan lines to use their tracks. To manage the operational costand number of passengers LU trains are available in two sizes namely smaller deep tube trainsand larger sub surface trains. These trains are provided with large standing space, public addresssystems and regenerative braking so that quality services can be provided to customers.One of the major challenge faced by underground service lines as compare to theoverground transportation systems is that LU require highly effective cooling and ventilationservices from the safety perspective. The management authorities have installed refrigeration andventilation units so that temperature in the tunnel can be controlled. According toJackson,(2018)underground services must essentially have the ventilation fans and cooling facilities sothat hot air can be extracted from the tunnel and safe operation of the transportation services can5
be accomplished. Along with hot air and cooling fans it has been also observed that localresidents may suffer from the issue of high noise and thus there has been constant demands forpreclude of their usage at night.To enhance the services and facilities LU are also provided with the escalators and lift sothat less time can be spent by passengers in moving from one platform to other. To make it easyfor the customers the management authorities also shifted ticket counters near the escalators sothat people does not find any kind of difficulties in ticket collection. With the increasing use ofmodern technology people are being more dependent upon mobile phones, Wi-Fi and otherdigital services (Levinson, Giacomin and Badsey-Ellis, 2015). In the same context LU serviceshave also collaborated with the technology service providers so that Wi-Fi services can beinstalled at the stations and people can access the internet services.As per the view ofJin, Teo and Odoni, (2015)technical issues are the major concerns forthe authorities and service providers to assure the good network services underground. The voiceinstruction and digital display board services are available to the people on platforms but there isneed of various improvements to establish better integration with the technology. There is needof implementing online ticket booking systems or the ticket confirmation status via mobilephones so that it becomes easy for the people to manage their journey. According toLe Vine andPolak, (2017)the underground services can be improved to great extent by using technologysuch as online booking or the digital payments. Some stations of LU allow the facility of digitalor card payments so that individuals does not find it hard at these stations to search forcurrencies.Gaps between existing and expected underground customer servicesAccording toKim and Gustafson-Pearce, (2016)tube services have proven to be veryconvenient for the people and thus from the long term it was expected that service will extend tonigh shifts as well. Initially the underground services were not available for the night becausethere were limited passengers for the night shift. However, with the technological changes andincreasing impact of globalisation people used to engage more in travel activities as well asflexibility in timings. It encouraged the need to expand LU services at night as well. However,the decision was delayed by few years to mismanagement in staffing (Larcom, Rauch andWillems, 2015). It was expected that LU services being the oldest and largest public transit6
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