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CXO Profiles - Danny Levy, MBTA

Welcome to the third in a series of profiles of transit Customer Experience (CX) leaders. Today, I am featuring Danny Levy, Chief Customer and Employee Experience Officer at the MBTA in Boston. Danny and her team challenge themselves to walk in riders' shoes and communicate and engage with them at every stage of their journey to improve the customer experience. Beyond her rider focus, Danny sees MBTA's 7,000 employees as "customers" as well, engaging with them to improve their work experiences.


portrait photo of Danny Levy

Underscoring the importance of CX at MBTA, Danny reports directly to the General Manager and leads 34 employees in Customer Service, Customer Communications, Marketing, Digital Strategies and Engagement, and Employee Engagement. She also oversees over 200 in-station Ambassadors. MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng prioritizes customer experience and works with MBTA leadership to think creatively about how they serve and communicate with customers.


MBTA ambassador assisting elderly woman customer

The focus of the MBTA CX program is communications and engagement. Danny and her team utilize a variety of tools to communicate and engage: social media, in-station communications, public service announcements, transit ambassadors, a customer call center, issues resolution, and targeted community and stakeholder outreach. The goal is to deliver consistent, accurate and timely communications. On the employee communications side, Danny and her team created a new on-line channel to share resources and communicate across the entire organization. They also make cost effective podcasts to communicate with employees (in a closet at the office!).


MBTA worker looking at employee information digital board on wall

Danny's journey to transit CX began at Boston's Logan Airport over 20 years ago, where she served as the Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing. At Logan, Danny directed the airport’s marketing efforts to attract and welcome new international service to Boston. Her work also included promoting the airport’s extensive ground transportation network that included Logan Express buses and ferry service, as well as supporting the MBTA Silver Line. The goal was to reduce vehicle traffic and emissions in and around the airport.


I personally had a great experience on the Logan Express bus in 2019. It was speedy, clean, and inexpensive. And most of all, the communications designed by Danny and her team were exceptional. I especially appreciated the sandwich board signs on the street letting me know about the Logan Express shuttle:


Boston garbage can wrapped with ads for Logan Airport shuttle

The Logan Express service entitled me to use an express lane through security inside the airport. I later emulated this incentive to promote taking transit to SFO when I served as BART Chief Marketing Officer.


Poster with information about program that lets transit users access a priority line through airport security

When Danny joined MBTA in July 2018, she set her sights on improving communications about service changes, as well as communications about the COVID pandemic after it began in early 2020. During the pandemic, Danny's team launched Ride Safer, the T’s campaign to educate riders and employees and shift behavior for a new way of riding on the T. This effort included social media, animation, videos, and triptych ads on the system.


MBTA Ride Safer poster
MBTA employee near faregates wearing a red uniform with a Ride Safer patch

Danny also identified the lack of employee communications that existed throughout the 7000-person workforce. Employees complained they learned from the Boston media what was happening at the T. Danny introduced regular General Manager employee updates and a launched a GM video series to share MBTA news with employees before the local news. This change in how the T communicated with its workforce would prove critical during the pandemic when Danny’s staff were preparing almost daily employee communications.


Of course, being in the customer experience space brings plenty of challenges:


  • Getting ahead of the news by quickly addressing customer pain points as they surface,

  • Improving technology to more effectively communicate updates in real time, and

  • Acting transparently (and not just saying it).


Beyond communication and engagement, Danny challenges herself and her team to catalyze change to improve rider and employee experiences, collaborating across the organization to advocate for customers and take a customer-centric approach.


Danny is guided by Maya Angelou's statement:


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”


Danny believes in leading with curiosity and patiently asking lots of questions, and she challenges her team to stretch to improve CX for MBTA customers!




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