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Author Topic: FGW Customer Panel  (Read 6959 times)
grahame
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« on: April 17, 2015, 05:33:55 AM »

There's some questions elsewhere on what should and should not be put to customer panel members - so let me quote from First Great Western's web site:

From https://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/About-Us/Customer-services/Customer-Panel

Quote
Our Customer Panel members:
* are recruited from across the First Great Western region
* represent all customers who travel from stations within their section of route, regardless of the final destination or type of service
* deal with comments from customers seeking constructive change, who want to contribute to strategic issues and help us develop future company initiatives
* do not deal with complaints ^ those are directed to the appropriate area of First Great Western
* are volunteer members of the public, so the views they express are their own and not necessarily shared by First Great Western
* are distinct from Passenger Focus or London TravelWatch - these organisations still exist to assist and arbitrate on your behalf. Find out how to contact them in our current Train Times booklets.

A handful of comments on this quoted text:
* For "Passenger Focus" you should now read "Transport Focus"
* I note "within their section of route"
* I note "do not deal with complaints"

It's probably a good idea that the panel doesn't look at complaints for all sorts of reasons - it would be a tough role for volunteers, people expect responses to complaints quickly, and there needs to be an assurance from a complaint pathway that there will be a response which is contrary to the independent and not mandated nature of panel member selection / activity.

I have commented before on TransWilts / customer panel matters - and it stems from the fact that members are chosen by station group rather than by train service.  Basically, I take the view that the customer panel is an excellent tool, or potentially excellent tool, for many - but limited in scope (it's not designed to be much more) and especially limited in scope for the TransWilts.  For the record, I'm going to set down why the TransWilts is a peculiarly difficult one for the panel.

1. Although the panel blurb talks about train services, membership selection is by station.  And TransWilts (Swindon to Westbury) has three different members over 5 stations, or (Swindon to Salisbury) four different members over 8 stations.

2. Station grouping is such that the panel member is often remote from the service - living and travelling from Melksham, I wouldn't pretend to be an expert or main representative for services south of Dorchester, and to find my Dilton Marsh representative, I don't think I would want to look beyond Southampton.

3. The panel is split into two which meet separately - London and Cotswold and the West and - guess what - the TransWilts straddles the border.

4. I'm not totally sure about the Community Rail v Customer Panel relationship,and indeed the fuzzy edges / overlap may be good as it provides multiple "in"s for ideas and based on geography some work well in one area, some in another.

5. Panel members can come and go - again taking Melksham, we're on our third (at least) since I was involved.  I will add that - although remote - our current member has an excellent and keen pedigree, is known to us and, I believe, would take a fair view of any tradeoff / compromises needed between stations and services on his patch.

I probably look like I'm being rather critical there - that's not the intent; the intent is to point out a poor fit in our case due to geography - one of the things Ive learned is that although many things are the same across train services, many are locally different - sometimes to our advantage, and sometimes to our disadvantage.  I'm actually on the First Bath Bus Customer panel ... and very supportive of it as at least a small route in for the customer voice where previously there was nothing that I'm aware of.   And the CRP actively welcomes / invites panel members from our stations, and indeed for stations covered by connecting services where there's an interest.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 09:59:11 AM »

The Customer Panel is being revised & expanded - keep an eye on the relevant webpage on the GWR website as an invite to join will shortly appear I understand. The 'current' members have recently been contacted.

It's moving mostly online rather than face-to-face. More customers can have input that way.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2017, 05:06:52 PM »

Information  / invites for new customer panel:

https://www.facebook.com/gwruk/posts/10154625644166806
https://www.gwr.com/help-and-support/customer-panel

It's moving mostly online rather than face-to-face. More customers can have input that way.

Indeed ... question from sign up form (which I did not submit)
Quote
Would you like to take part in a customer panel meeting? Once or twice a year we may hold a panel meeting in your area, an opportunity for you to meet some of the GWR team and other panel members
which might confirm that the objective is more customer input from individuals than a cohesive group.  I saw no indication of future size (number of members) of panel, nor whether members will be representing an area so talking to others as has been the past theory.  There was a "home station" question.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 05:22:45 PM by grahame » Logged

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ChrisB
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2017, 08:14:39 AM »

Other than collecting representation from across the network equally, I think you are right. They will obviously represent typical users from their station/area, and to do that successfully, chatting to others is pretty obvious, but whether it'll be a requirement, we don't yet know - but I'm sure you'll be able to if you so wish, as they won't ban you from doing so, I'm sure.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2017, 06:53:46 AM »

Other than collecting representation from across the network equally, I think you are right. They will obviously represent typical users from their station/area, and to do that successfully, chatting to others is pretty obvious, but whether it'll be a requirement, we don't yet know - but I'm sure you'll be able to if you so wish, as they won't ban you from doing so, I'm sure.

I popped along to the very first panel briefing in Bristol yesterday evening; the new panel is indeed a very much wider net than than the old one was, with an emphasis on interested passengers talking / feeding back directly to GWR rather than talking to each other (don't recall any specific mention of talking to others at all).    The movement away from a single representative for a biggish groups of stations, who's unlikely to be in tune with all the stations / flows in the group, is personally welcome to me.  Very useful evening. Fuller report to follow (and at least one other Coffee Shop member was there - comment from that person would be very welcome, and good to meet you!)
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t0m
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2017, 08:07:37 AM »

I wanted to attend last night but was unable to. I hope I still get invited to subsequent sessions!
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2017, 08:58:22 AM »

I wanted to attend last night but was unable to. I hope I still get invited to subsequent sessions!

Based on what was said last night, I'm pretty sure you will get both minutes and further session invites.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2017, 09:51:00 AM »

The movement away from a single representative for a biggish groups of stations, who's unlikely to be in tune with all the stations / flows in the group, is personally welcome to me.

Even though you would describe yourself as thus for your CRP group of stations? Odd.
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2017, 11:07:23 AM »

The movement away from a single representative for a biggish groups of stations, who's unlikely to be in tune with all the stations / flows in the group, is personally welcome to me.

Even though you would describe yourself as thus for your CRP group of stations? Odd.

"Biggish group?" ... TransWilts has precisely two designated stations ... and a local formal setup (as do other CRPs) to help ensure that the team picks up details and local specifics from all of those (two) stations, as well as on most of the flows on the [designated] service.

Looking at the old Customer Panel areas, it was hard for FGW / GWR to find a representative who without backup could speak for all the flows and issues at both Chippenham and Oldfield Park, at both Melksham and Chetnole, and at both Dilton Marsh and Chichester!
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bignosemac
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2017, 11:17:12 AM »

Whatever the setup, it will remain a toothless and largely pointless part of GWR.
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2017, 12:30:56 PM »

Whatever the setup, it will remain a toothless and largely pointless part of GWR.

You appear to be have a closed mind - be passing judgement without giving it a chance, and without having attended the event ...

You are probably correct in suggesting it will remain toothless.  But that doesn't necessarily mean it's largely pointless; "Save the Train" was toothless and indeed the crp that grew from it was also technically toothless as late as a year ago, but that didn't make us "largely pointless" - much can be done by persuasion even if there's no whip hand to force things  to be done.     The same point can be made about the Coffee Shop - we're toothless, but I don't think we're largely pointless - if we are, I can't imagine why you have made over 14,000 posts!

The new format of the Passenger Forum is - I believe - a step in the right direction.  It corrects some significant bottlenecks of representation. It puts in parallel provision rather than single source; there were some excellent and very active members under the old system - I could highlight one of the reps from near Oxford for a special mention - but there were also members who were notable by their none-presence, or by their purpose of membership to be more for their own purposes rather than for the passengers at their stations. So let's give it a chance.

Will it work?  I don't know; it depends if the updated system and last night's meeting were a first step along a path that will be followed further and enhanced, or if they were a piece of showmanship the purpose of which was to show something being done, and without further steps taken, so allowing the initiative to fail.

I for one would encourage it to be given a chance, not to prejudge it!
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bignosemac
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2017, 01:13:23 PM »

It's window dressing. Like much of the Customer Service provision there is no desire to do anything to improve things now that we are approaching the twilight of the franchise. 

I confidently predict the next franchisee will not be required to have a Customer Panel. It won't be missed.

Comparison with campaigning groups and forums is specious. 
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ChrisB
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2017, 01:19:16 PM »

Hmmm. I think SWR will have one. I lnow Southern does. Two most recent awards....i'll bet you a pint the new GW will have one, even if its online like Southern (and I think SWR) is/are
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bignosemac
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« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2017, 01:35:24 PM »

Southern has a Customer Cabinet with just 5 passenger members. No access to them for the general public.

And an online Passenger Panel. Very different in setup to GWR's Customer Panel. For a start, it is nominally open to all and not limited in number. Holding regular online Q&A sessions with senior managers.

SWR have an online Customer Forum (I'm a member):
https://www.southwesternrailway.com/contact-and-help/online-customer-forum

The GWR Customer Panel setup will, I confidently predict, become an online forum in the next franchisee, far more inclusive and useful than the current setup.
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Lover of trains and all things rail related. That love and enjoyment has been severely dented in recent years by FGW/GWR.
ChrisB
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« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2017, 01:38:39 PM »

Indeed, I win my pint, or will do
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