Our success as a company depends not only on high standards in our performance and service delivery but also on our ability to understand, influence and manage the expectations of our stakeholders.
Our operations are wide ranging. We operate five divisions (each with different characteristics and operating environments) across three geographical areas - the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The three areas have their own policy frameworks.
Each operating division has a wide range of stakeholders with whom we engage via forums, one-to-one dialogue, partnerships and publications supported by regular customer and employee surveys. We usually engage locally to manage local circumstances and needs. Sometimes we deal with national stakeholders on issues that affect particular parts of the Group or, occasionally, the entire Group community. This year we developed a Group framework giving greater visibility and consistency to our stakeholder management processes.
Our stakeholders divide broadly into six groups. The table below summarises our main engagement methods and the key issues for each stakeholder.
|Stakeholder||Key issues||Engagement methods|
|National and local authorities||
|The investment community||
Stakeholder PanelMost stakeholder feedback is currently driven by local issues. Three years ago we introduced a CR External Advisory Group to give an external view of our CR programme and performance. We have now decided to develop this into a Stakeholder Panel which will represent the interests of a broader range of stakeholders. The Panel will present an opportunity for us to gain feedback on the effectiveness of our CR programme and reporting.
Responding to stakeholder feedback
We use the feedback from our engagement processes to help shape our business and drive continuous improvement. Stakeholders' expectations are wide-ranging and sometimes conflict. We strive to understand these differences and communicate effectively where expectations cannot be met.
Due to the extensive and varied nature of our engagement processes we offer the following examples of our responses to some of our main stakeholder groups.
Our 124,000 employees are important stakeholders in the business and understanding their concerns and ensuring greater satisfaction is essential to our business success. Our 2010 Your Voice survey, subsequent focus groups and pulse surveys with one-to-one feedback have all been essential in informing our people strategy. The surveys identified management behaviour, communication and customer service as key issues, and we have worked to address these. Examples include:
- road shows in First Student and Greyhound to better inform employees of business strategy and performance;
- management conferences in First Transit, encouraging communications between General Managers and sharing best practice;
- our transformational programme in First Student and depot transformation teams in UK Bus, which have enhanced staff engagement in driving business improvements;
- establishing a Rail Engagement Forum to share best practice across our train operating companies;
- further development of our management training programmes with greater emphasis on people management;
- better customer service training;
- more staff magazines;
- opportunities for staff to ask questions directly to the managing directors of the businesses via email or printed media.
We recognise that we can still improve many areas and will continue to gather employee feedback to inform this process.
Customer feedback is extensive, ranging from one-to-one feedback on particular issues (often dealt with through our complaints handling systems) to suggestions from Customer Panels. In addition we gain an overview of our performance from customer surveys. Concerns raised are varied. The following examples outline our responses to customer feedback.
In our UK Bus division we have worked to address concerns over value for money and driver attitudes which our customer surveys have demonstrated are low-scoring areas. Scores are now improving but there is further work to do.
- In South Devon we redesigned our timetables in response to feedback from the Customer Panel.
- In Rail we have endeavoured to improve information at times of disruption. This issue became a particular concern for our customers during poor weather conditions.
- In First Student we have worked on improving our school year start-up programme. Disruption is typically frequent at this time but this year our efforts have resulted in a higher customer service score.
National and local authorities
This stakeholder group includes Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) and is of particular importance to our UK operations. PTEs are responsible for transport strategy in the regions where we operate, control subsidies which apply on selected bus routes, traffic management (which affects our service performance) and road use (which affects issues such as bus priority). We meet regularly with these organisations and collaborate in a range of partnerships to help drive forward initiatives which affect them.
- In Sheffield, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Sheffield City Council wanted to improve integration of tickets and services between operators. Through the Optio Partnership we have coordinated timetables (improving service frequency) and introduced a range of inter-operator tickets.
- We are working with City of York Council to help them deliver their plans to develop a low carbon emissions zone in the City.
- In West Yorkshire the local authorities wanted to bring the bus companies together to improve collaboration in network development and ticket infrastructure. As members of the West Yorkshire Association of Bus Operators (which includes operators of all sizes) we are joining forces to help achieve this and bring long-term improvements to the area's bus services.
- As part of the Greater Manchester Bus Operators Association (GMBOA), we are working with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to develop a shared long-range vision for public transport in the area.
- We work closely with Hampshire County Council on their vision to develop a priority bus network in the area. This includes the Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit between Fareham and Gosport. State of the art vehicles move along a 3.4km guided busway to bypass congestion on the busy A32, including high quality supporting waiting facilities for customers.
- In Oxfordshire, Bristol, Devon and Cornwall the local authorities provide financial support for additional rail services that have led to record levels of passenger numbers. Our work with these councils has also led to a number of joint projects including support for additional rail services, an extension of passenger information systems and both improved car park and station facilities.
- We are working with MPs, local authorities and business groups to develop plans for western rail access to Heathrow. This has led to the Department for Transport agreeing to fund initial studies into the scheme.
- Our work with Wiltshire Council to support their aspirations for extra services in the Melksham area led them to support a pilot of additional weekend services over the summer.
These are just some examples of ways we engage with this stakeholder group to bring real improvements to local transport services.
As well as our ongoing community programmes we respond to community requests, particularly where the nature of our business makes us ideal partners. We present a few examples below.
- In partnership with Avon and Somerset Police, we support the Somerset Road Safety Partnership to help tackle dangerous driving. The scheme involves special cameras fitted to selected buses in problem areas.
- We are active partners in the Manchester and West Yorkshire Travel Safe schemes. These successful public-private partnerships between the local police forces and bus operators aim to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour across the region's bus network, as well as providing a reassuring uniformed presence on passenger services and at bus stations.
- We also support the Safe Haven Scheme, offering places for people with learning difficulties to go in times of distress where they can get support and comfort. We are establishing Safe Havens at our travel shops and bus stations across the South West region.
- We regularly provide donations in the form of free tickets and travel passes to charitable causes.
- In North America we have been called on a number of times at times of national disaster such as the tsunami evacuation in Northern California and tornado in Alabama, where we helped transport food and people. We are now updating our Emergency Plan to include such emergencies and to refine and improve these procedures based on our recent experience.