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Cultural Transformation


A CX Plan cannot script customer-centric behaviors for every scenario. The situations are simply too numerous. As such, CX needs to become part of the organizational culture at every level to be successful.


Every day, transit employees at all levels have opportunities to impact the customer experience. When employees are committed to serving the community and providing good experiences to riders, they are more likely to go the extra mile to make a difference. For example, an employee might stop to help out-of-towners figure out how to buy a fare card, or a project manager overseeing new construction might decide to include extra benches or shade trees, a bus operator may greet customers as they board with a warm greeting, or a security officer may reunite a distressed person with their family.


Successful CX culture change requires that leadership and employees be able to see issues from a customer perspective, and ask themselves tough questions like “Is good, good enough?” and “How do we go the extra mile to really WOW people.” It can’t just be about designing services that are easy to deliver. The customer has to come first, and this requires a change in mindset.

Peter Drucker quote: Culture eats strategy for lunch

Everyone who has engaged in culture change knows that it requires a sustained effort over a long period of time to change a culture. It starts with defining the beliefs, values, and behaviors that we would want all employees to have. These beliefs, values and behaviors can then be used to hire the right employees, train them, coach them, and recognize excellence. Having a consistent thread of beliefs, values, and behaviors across all these aspects of the employee experience is essential for culture change, because change requires repetition. At every opportunity, transit agencies need to hammer away at the desired beliefs, values, and behaviors so that they become familiar and second nature. Some organizations start every meeting or activity with a focus on beliefs, values, and behaviors to keep the spotlight on the culture they are building.

CX culture beliefs and behaviors: passion, empathy, ownership and accountability, and teamwork

Many employees are not comfortable with change and may resist or even seek to undermine it. So one strategy is to start with employees that already embody the beliefs, values, and behaviors you want, and provide them with encouragement, support, and recognition. The idea is that other employees will get the picture and may be motivated to gradually join the circle.


Here is a short :40 clip from a CX Culture video we created at LA Metro to use in employee orientations and refresher training:

In summary, while it is important to create top-down plans that identify transit rider pain points and prescribe improvements, broader CX excellence ultimately requires every employee in the organization to be able to walk in the customers shoes and make customer-focused decisions day in and day out. That can’t all be specified in a Plan, so culture change is an essential part of any CX program.


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