The importance of service quality towards customer service satisfaction when commuting in Klang Valley, Malaysia - Part 9

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6.2 Improvement suggestions in terms of reliability and the location efficiency

Based on the recommendations by Chris Green and Peter Hall (2009), there must be a plan to integrate networks of urban places and streets surrounding the stations, prioritizing cyclist, pedestrians, and even the other public transports. This recommendation aims to address the issues surrounding the trains’ stations. This plan also aims to avoid any potential environmental and societal harm that may affect the train passengers. Additionally, large train stations must become the super hubs for various transport activities. Thus, the train station must be must be located in a place where locating a bus or a tram would be easy. The railway management could also put some train stations on the places where important landmarks are located such as universities, government buildings, city centers, and business centers. Implementing such improvement would provide a positive impact to the railway service in terms of convenience.

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On the other hand, small and medium train stations must evolve into a community where small businesses are located such as supermarket, post-offices, and even collection points for mails that are about to be delivered. In other words, the railway services and train stations must be in a location where people have an easy access on, critical business establishments are located, and most of the passengers’ volume occurs. Green and Hall (2009) therefore recommend that the railway service system must meet most of the criteria that involve critical aspects of its operation in order to provide satisfactory service to many passengers as possible. Furthermore, the railway service priorities must be focused on access improvement, facilities, information, and environment to make it ready for current and future challenges. There must be a recommended station standards that the train service providers must follow in order for them to have rapid solutions on various operating issues.

There could be numerous issues that the railway service might face, which will challenge their capability to improve such drawbacks. Most of the usual challenges are mainly based on the passengers’ perspective. For that reason, focusing on the passengers’ belief may help in the improvement of the passengers’ confidence in terms of personal security while traveling on the train network. So, the recommended action for this challenge goes to the role of the railway network staff. Collin Foxall (2009) suggests that regardless of their role, staff that always faces the customers or passengers should be trained in the necessary skills that are needed to demonstrate through their existence. In this way, the railway management could express an impression to the customers that the railway is a managed environment by showing their presence.

This recommendation aims to provide a secure feeling to the passengers especially at times when terrorism is evident in many places. It suggests that proper monitoring of the railway station may not be enough in terms of security, but having the presence of staff within the area may provide a positive security feeling to the passengers. In line with this recommendation, some passengers may not be unrealistic and accept that there may be some situations in which staff may not be expected to risk their safety, mainly if they are working by themselves (Foxall, 2009). Additionally, passenger focus recommends that railway staff must be re-deployed to the train stations I order to provide a direct assistance to the passengers as well as to provide an assurance of their presence. This recommendation may be applicable to smaller rain stations that have lower passenger volume wherein satisfaction rate in terms of security could be low. However, bigger train station may also adapt the similar recommendations as long as they will be able to provide the enough number of staff who can accommodate larger volume of passengers. The recommendation’s main goal is to provide assurance of staff presence to reduce insecurities.

On the other hand, if the railway service could not have enough staff to standby on each station, the passenger focus could be implemented in another way using a different design. His would serve as another challenge to the railway operators to create a reassuring environment (Foxall, 2009). Having such situation is call for an improvement when it comes to providing well-secured facilities. This recommendation may include adequate lighting as well as clear sight of lines that will create a less threatening area for commuters to wait. In addition to this, a closed-circuit television camera must be installed on vital areas of the train stations such as the stairway, waiting dock, hallway if there is any, and even the outside perimeters of the train station. This is so that passengers will feel safer from the time they took the first step into the station until they get off from another train station in the absence of the railway staff.

It was apparent from the results of the survey that the demographics of the commuters riding the train are mostly females within the age of 17 to 29 years old. This sort of demographical characteristic represents a majority market for the train agencies in Klang Valley that requires added security and safety. Given that the commuters are mostly females, it presents a need for better security augmentation within the station and in the trains. Creating a strategy in line with the results of the survey encompasses a need for further security visibility and surveillance system that will create an impression of increased safety. Commuter rail like any other mass transportation system cannot always predict a certain passenger profile that will provide a clue on the level of needed security. Therefore, preventive measures is more likely to create a more secure environment for all the train commuters. Once the commuters felt and perceived a systematic security augmentation within the station and in the trains, the probability of achieving customer satisfaction and loyal is higher.

For some other train stations, the passengers are not aware that there is some sort of security scheme that is currently being implemented. With this, passenger feedback regarding security perception is relatively low. However, the railway stations must not stop right at this point. It has been recommended that the railway operators must publicized the improvement actions so that they can achieve the accreditation as well as any supplemental initiatives, which may currently undertake (Foxall, 2009). Relatively, at those train stations that have low security satisfaction rate and high crime level, a recommendation would be to talk to both users and non-users of the train stations to discuss about the security measures that may need to be implemented so that they will be concerned about patronizing their local train service. This serves as an additional effort from the train service operator when it comes to giving the right perceptions to the people that they are exerting efforts to improve the railway system. In relation, waiting for passengers’ feedback may not be enough. Instead, the management must proactively look for answers from the people in order to address security concerns.

Recommendations about to achieve an overall satisfaction from the public train commuters can be very broad. There are many railway service operators that have various models and design on how they can improve their common goal, which is to serve the public by providing good quality travel experience. Some railway service operators use a survey approach in which they gather feedback from the passengers, and the factors that have the most number of feedbacks would be the operators’ priority to improve. However, this approach may be insufficient at some point. As mentioned, waiting for feedback may not be enough, as operators must proactively seek for measures that affect the customer satisfaction.

In this case, more developed approach can be used such as staff-to-person approach in which the railway staff may directly ask the passengers regarding their trip experience and if there are anything that needs to be done for service quality improvement. Thus, the questionnaires included on the survey form must be more specific. For example if question number one pertains to the cleanliness of the train, there must be some sub-questions to address the minor things regarding cleanliness such as the smell inside the coaches, presence of dust in small corners of the seats inside the train, and more.

Additionally, the survey of staff-to-passenger approach must be done on a regular basis such as monthly or even quarterly. This is to ensure that there will be no lapses on the train operator’s part when it comes to addressing issues raised by the passengers. Then again, railway system as a form of public transportation plays a crucial role in the development of the economy in a way that it affects the passengers’ capacity to purchase tickets, the taxes that the train operators pay from its revenue, and even its important contributions when it comes to serving the public commuters who work both for public and private sectors. Inter-agency collaboration and public inequity is a useful step for the train service providers in Klang Valley to determine customer expectations and address commuters’ demand accordingly. This in return will ensure that all activities and strategies initiated by the train administrators will entail higher commuter satisfaction.

For example, the train agency can initiate programs designed to ease ticket purchase, although the results of the survey still reveals a positive response from the participants, the percentage of dissatisfied commuters cannot still be ignored. In order to achieve better customer satisfaction results, the train administration could invest in more ticket vending machines because as the survey suggests, more commuters prefer buying their tickets from the machine as compared to standing in line at the ticket counter. The only percentage of commuters that expressed dissatisfaction are those that are often left with no option, but to purchase the ticket through the ticket counter. One possible cause of this the insufficient number of available ticket vending machines, which is a factor that creates dissatisfaction, the train administration would be able to address this problem by investing on more vending machines to dispense tickets. Like any other mass transportation, commuter rails are subject to the rules of time demand. This means even train services experience peak and slow hours of operation on a daily basis. However, the peak hours encompasses the greater possibilities of untoward inconveniences on the part of the commuter such as capacity, space, timeliness, and convenience. Having alternative and additional vending machines ticket dispensing in the stations would greatly help eliminate inconveniences for the commuters.

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Another approach is to initiate partnerships with other train service providers and propose a one-ticket-for-all strategy wherein the commuters can use the same ticket they used from another train provides. This will create convenience on the grounds that the commuters will no longer need to fall in line at the vending machine or at the ticket counter to get their ticket for the next leg of the trip. Stored-value ticket is another way easing ticket purchase by allowing the commuters to use a pre-stored value tickets that commuters can use multiple times until the value of the ticket have receded. This strategy targets two areas in service quality such as convenience and accessibility. Furthermore, creating partnerships with other modes of transportation creates an extra value to the service that commuters are getting. In addition, applying the concepts for improvement discussed herewith does not only promote better customer experience, but also an indication of the train company’s emphasis on the importance of service quality in effectively creating customer satisfaction. There are other similar strategies that the train agencies can apply to their own customer satisfaction strategies, but the most important objective should remain, which is to provide the best customer experience.

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