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CXO Profiles - Patricia Lucy, TransLink

Welcome to the fourth in a series of profiles of transit Customer Experience leaders. Today, I am featuring Patricia Lucy, who oversees the CX Program at TransLink in Vancouver.

Bicyclists exiting the back door of the Vancouver Translink Bike Bus

Growing up as the youngest of seven in a one-car family, Patricia walked and took transit throughout her youth. Years later, Patricia was able to feed her passion for transit as a marketing consultant for TransLink. Patricia found this so fulfilling that she subsequently signed on to TransLink full-time and has spent the last fifteen years helping TransLink improve communications and grow ridership.

Patricia's role has evolved to include not only Promotional marketing, but also another "P" in the marketing mix, namely Product. This focus on Product led Patricia to develop one of the first Customer Experience programs in North America. As Patricia learned in business school, well-executed Promotions alone are inadequate unless accompanied by an attractive Product at an attractive Price. But when Product, Price, and Promotion all excel together, demand for a product can grow dramatically. As a marketer, Patricia also knows that it can cost ten times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer, so it is essential to provide existing customers with a quality customer experience.

graphic showing Product, Price, and Promotion

Strong support from consecutive TransLink leaders Kevin Desmond and Kevin Quinn has propelled the TransLink Customer Experience program forward. Patricia helped prepare two agency-wide CX Action Plans, with a third Plan coming soon.

Cover of the Translink 2022-2027 Customer Experience Action Plan

The TransLink CX program uses market research to surface and elevate customer voices to identify and remedy rider pain points at each stage of the passenger journey. A dozen CX staff fan out across the organization and collaborate to develop solutions to pain points and get them implemented. They also ensure that measurements and standards are in place to ensure the desired outcomes are delivered and valued by riders. The team has enough staffing to make a real difference but is also lean enough to stay focused.

The CX Action Plans include a range of measures to make transit faster and more reliable, easier to use, more personalized, safer and more comfortable. CX initiatives have included: rider incentives and awards, customized email alerts, acceptance of contactless debit cards, purchase of new buses and launch of new RapidBus services, a text line to report cleanliness issues, and Community Safety Officers.

TransLink has already completed over 60% of projects identified in the most recent CX Action Plan, and customers are beginning to notice improvements, as shown in recent survey results.

Besides acting as catalysts, in some cases CX staff also directly develop CX improvements in areas like web and digital information. Patricia oversees all this work, as well as the TransLink Marketing and Demand Management teams.

In overseeing CX staff, Patricia emphasizes the vision and mission of CX. Other teams have to weigh a wide range of factors like budget constraints or technical challenges, whereas the CX team can infuse a customer-first perspective to counterbalance these practical challenges. Beyond emphasizing the CX mission, Patricia likes to roll up her sleeves and pitch in to help other departments. This helps gain respect for the CX team and build trust. Her goal is to gradually shift the TransLink culture and deeply embed CX in agency practices.

Patricia also uses her position to nurture humility in the TransLink organization by listening to riders and opening minds to change. She realizes that transit needs to become nimble to win back riders and keep up with rapidly growing changes in society.

Patricia meets with a Customer Experience Executive Steering Committee every two months, and also convenes a regular working group with her peers across the organization.

For the many transit staff across the industry who are considering CX programs, Patricia advises them to gradually build support across the organization by delivering tangible solutions. And when top leadership eventually decides to formalize a CX mandate, grab it right away, own it, and use it to build an enduring CX program that will stand the test of time. Unused mandates tend to disappear, so seize mandates and run with them.

Standing up a CX program takes courage and resolve. Patricia brings these qualities to work every day, and if that's not enough ... when she's not working, Patricia and her three sons enjoy downhill mountain biking!

Patricia and her family take a break from their bike outing to pose for a photo

Transit in North America owes a debt of gratitude to Vancouver TransLink for pioneering a CX movement that now spans dozens of other agencies. We send a big thanks to TransLink leadership, Patricia, and all her staff for their continued efforts to improve the customer experience!


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