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New TTC customer service chief from U.K. to replace old customer service chief, nobody

Yesterday afternoon the TTC announced the hiring of their first chief of customer service, fulfilling one of the recommendations of the Customer Service Advisory Panel. This is a welcome change from the previous customer service position, which didn’t exist. The lucky first chief is Chris Upfold, who comes to the TTC from London’s much more extensive Tube system. What kind of recommendations for Toronto can we expect from Upfold? Based on some of the press he’s had in the last 24 hours (it’s never too early to jump to conclusions!) there are several hints.

He’s cool with lots of advertising
Upfold tells the National Post that ads aren’t just about bringing money in to the system—they distract customers from the long waits they face. This is probably one of those things that is best said quietly, if at all.

The little stuff matters
Upfold told the Globe and Mail that one of the first things he learned when he started in London was the importance of the placement of ticket machines, which could shave time off a person’s commute “and set the tone for the day that followed.” It’s a nice sentiment, but a convenient Metropass kiosk doesn’t do much for us when there’s a fire on the Yonge line—again.

He might be a bit daft, as the Brits say
We really appreciate any customer service help the TTC can get, but to leave London because Toronto is “an exciting opportunity” (as Upfold told the Toronto Sun) makes us question his priorities. Leaving London to come to a city that can’t decide whether its nickname is “Hogtown,” “The Big Smoke” or “El Toro” might be something that he comes to regret.

Upfold starts his work at the TTC in a few months, and we’ll be watching to see what he comes up with in terms of actual customer service improvements. Here’s hoping the TTC can take some of our favourites from last year’s panel seriously and maybe answer some key questions, such as: are cleaner bathrooms more important than the Sheppard subway?

• TTC hires expert to ease friction with riders [Globe and Mail]
• Q&A: Who is the TTC’s new customer service officer Chris Upfold? [National Post]
• TTC hires customer service czar [Toronto Sun]

 

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