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ACKNOWLEDGMENT This work was sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and was conducted Trough the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), which is administered by the Transportation Research Board (TRY) of He National Research Council. DISCLAIMER The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in the report are those of the research agency. They are not necessarily those of the TRB, the National Research Council, the ETA, the Transit Development Corporation, or the U.S. Government. This report has not been edited by TRB. To save time and money in disseminating the research findings, the report is essentially the original text as submitted by the research agency.

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Is Your Agency Customer-Oriented? For more than forty years, managers in every field have been exhorted to "stay close to the customer," to "put the customer first," and to define the purpose of a business as the creation and retention of satisfied customers. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a satisfied customer. It is the customer who determines who the business is. Because it is its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two - and only these two - basic functions: marketing and innovation. Actually marketing is so basic that it is not just enough to have a strong sales force and to entrust marketing to it. Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its foal results, that is, from the customers point of view. Source: Peter F. Drucker, The Practice of Management. So important is a customer orientation that in a survey of CEOs the first, and foremost, factor considered critical to the success of 21st-century enterprises was a customer orientation - rated as critical by 73 percent of the respondents. s your agency "customer-oriented"? Ask yourself the following questions. Then compare your responses with those that might be made by an agency that is truly customer-oriented. ,~ At. en. Am::' What does ibis customer need, ~ want, or expect? | 1 ~ Ask Yourself How often does your agency talk with customers to find out what products o' services they will need in the future? How quickly does your agency detect changes in customers' preferences for products or services? How often does your agency review the likely effect of changes in your operating environment (e.g., regulation) on customers? How are data on customer satisfaction disseminated at your agency? Your Response The Response of a Customer-Oriented Agency Whenever we are considering a decision to add, improve, or delete programs and services, change our fare structure, or change our policies or strategic directions. Immediately. Whenever we are anticipating a change in our operating environment or are considering a change in our policies that is likely to effect our customers. th the good news and the bad news - are disseminated at all levels - from senior management to front-line employees - in our agency as soon as they are published.

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~ la :; I: Your The Response of a Response Customer-Oriented Agency Constantly. We have a computer based e-mail system on which all documents that provide information on our customers are available at any time by any person. One day or less. Our employees - from top management to front-line personnel - are empowered to make immediate responses to changes in our operating environment when such a change is responsive to a customer's ~ ~ ~existing or potential - need, want, or lid . ~expectation. Changes in services plans are based on equal consideration of market research, technological advances, and operational 3 ~considerations. All things being equal, the needs, wants, and expectations of our customers as identified by market and customer reseal ah drive the final decision. Our agency works with interdepartmental teams that meet at least once a month - more often if circumstances warrant. The purpose of these meetings is to review changes taking place in our business environment and any customer information that is available on the impact of these changes and to plan our immediate and long-term response. Always. Our customers' needs, wants, and expectations are first. , he agency who answered as a customer-oriented agency has superior skills in understanding and satisfying customers. It has clearly demonstrated that it satisfies the three principle features of a customer orientation: Ask Yourself How often does your agency circulate documents (e.g., reports, newsletters) that provide information on your customers? How quickly can your agency respond to significant changes in your operating environment? To what extent are changes in your service plans driven by market research rather than by technological advances or operational considerations? How often do different departments at your agency get together to plan a response to changes taking place in your business environment? To what extent do services and products your agency offers depend on real market needs rather than on internal politics or other external Dolitical Pressures? A set of beliefs that puts the customer's interest first. An organization that is able to generate, disseminate, and use superior information about customers and competitors. An agency that has developed a coordinated application of interfunctional resources targeted at the creation of superior customer value.

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Becoming Customer-Oriented -rim J. -~ e-~ -J~ study revealed four fundamental factors about most companies. f you're like many public transportation agencies, you may not have answered the questions exactly as illustrated. Despite the focus on becoming customer-oriented, American firms generally, and transit agencies n~r~ifir.~llv have hilts to make mirier Trip toward becoming truly customer-oriented. For example, one First, they say they want to know their customers. Second, they say that they want to deliver the customers. However, meet the needs of their Seventy-five to ninety-hve percent of all people in thaw impanies studied have no idea who the company's customers are and do not see how their jobs affect they customer. Many Gus omers repor in efforts to get them what Less very companies seem incapable of coordinat g Source: Thomas Masiello, "Developing Market Responsiveness Throughout Your Company," Industrial Marketing Management (1988). This suggests that after forty years, the notion of matching the resources of the agency with the needs of the market has permeated business thinking, and companies would like to implement this concept. However, few companies have carried out this idea successfully. Why is it so difficult to carry out a seemingly simple business philosophy? There are several barriers to becoming more customer-oriented. Commitment is limited to perceived constraints. Top management at the agency is committed to serving the needs and expectations of the customers but only if those needs and expectations can operate within the constraints of offering traditional public transportation services or within a certain political climate or under certain budgetary constraints. No market mentality. Most functional areas in transit agencies do not understand the notion of being truly driven by market / customer needs. Few agencies have a formal marketing function, and if one exists, it may or may not have a marketing plan. Even where a plan exists, it is frequently not well-communicated to those who must carry it out- telephone information operators, drivers, maintenance crews, etc. No market-responsive behavior. Most employees do not know how to translate their classic functional responsibilities into market~riven, customer-responsive actions. Moreover, they do not know where and how to look at the market from their functional perspective and do not recognize opportunities in the market. Lack of intra-agency communication. Many functional areas do not understand the roles of the other functions in the agency. For example, how familiar are most marketing personnel with the daily functions of the service planner and vice versa. Consequently, they do not know what information they should send to the other areas about the customer and what information they should seek from those other areas. Often, each function operates from a defensive position, protecting the integrity of their goals, budgets, and plans. Lack of front-line input. Employees in each functional area do not have meaningful participation in the strategic direction of the agency although they are often closest to the operational characteristics of the marketplace. For example, how many agencies have drivers and/or telephone information personnel sit in on strategic planning or marketing planning meetings?

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~ ~ lg:L :~ ven agencies who have top management support for a market-driven, customer orientation and who have tried to integrate a customer orientation through every level of the organization have met with varying levels of success. All too often, the solutions they have tried are incomplete because they: ecom ng customer-oriented is not something that simply happens overnight. For an agency to become C) truly customer-oriented, a major shift in corporate philosophy must exist. Such a change in orientation is typically the result of a gradual, evolutionary process. Following are some relatively simple strategies to begin this evolutionary process. Deal just with the strategic issues at senior management levels. They have outlined, tested, and defined the goals and objectives. However, they have identified few specific actions. Moreover, they do not ask employees to identify specific actions to reach these goals and objectives. Focus on either academic ideas - for example, quality circles - or functional behavioral skills - for example, customer service - and do not integrate them. Are often focused on the functional areas as though they are independent, as exemplified by many classic training programs used. Offer a "canned" solution that ignores valuable ideas from people with years of experience. Do not provide for a comprehensive plan for designing, developing, carrying out, and rewarding a cohesive, market-driven system. Ignore the importance of synchronizing the strategic and/or marketing plans with the people who carry them out. Operate as a "one-shot deal" with employees participating in a single training program or making a single change to the organizational structure with the expectation that this will result in a long-term change in the organization's values and beliefs. Create an expectation that results and rewards will be immediate. Develop Customer-Oriented Values. Embrace a set of customer-oriented values and beliefs that top management supports. Top management support is so important that Theodore Levitt, in his seminal statement of the marketing concept argued that customer needs must be the central focus of the firm's definition of its business purpose, and that this is the primary responsibility of the firm's senior management. The organization must learn to think of itself not as producing goods and see/ices but as buying customers, as doing the things that will make people want to do business with it. And the chief executive himself has the inescapable responsibility for creating this environment, this viewpoint, this attitude, this aspiration. Source: Theodore Levitt Marketing Myopia," Harvard Business Review (July-August, 1960~. This means that the customers determine quality and service. The agency defines itself both in terms of the customer needs it is committed to serving and its distinctive competence in satisfying those needs - that is its way of delivering value to the customer. These basic beliefs and values must include a commitment to quality and service as defined by customers. This commitment must come from top management. If top management does not put the customer first they have, by definition, put something else first. Everyone else in the organization will know what that is and behave accordingly. Top management at agencies must give clear signals and establish clear values and beliefs about serving the customer.

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Commit to Change. Changing to a customer-driven orientation should be viewed as a long-term evolutionary process. Only newly created organizations, or ones facing severe crises, are open to major change occurring at once. Change is always discomfiting. What is a small change to some in an agency may be a major change to others. Even seemingly small, isolated changes can have unexpected multiplier effects. Simply considering organizational change is not without consequences. Therefore, the most fruitful course to follow is to carry out change incrementally. Gain Full Organizational Involvement. Developing a customer- driven orientation must involve all organizational levels and areas. Most important, it should not be limited to staff pe rso n n e 1. Th ose u Iti mate Iy responsible in the daily lives of customers - the front-line - must be involved. If all levels are involved, the importance of a customer-driven orientation is unmistakable. An elegantly conceived strategy developed by top management and passed down to subordinates will not achieve instant- if ever- success. Employees who actually contribute to customer satisfaction must execute change efforts. This means moving beyond simple participative management. Real delegation and empowerment must occur so that employees have a stake in the agency's long-term success. An organizational culture that thrives on change and improvement, and rewards all employees for their contributions must be established. AGENCY CONTRACT LIVEN: Marketing is an agency wide activity. TA/~R~FORE: There is a need for the generation of, dissemination of, and responsiveness to market information throughout the agency. CUSTOMER AND PARKE RESEARCH FUNCTION /I/~(JST: Help all internal customers hear the voice of the market by providing information and the support necessary to use it effectively in the decision-making process. AS A ROSIN A: The quality of agency wide marketing is enhanced. T/~/IS IS I//4IPORTANT BECAUSE: The quality of agency wide marketing affects customer perceptions of an agency's long-term commitment to providing high value in its product / service offerings. AND: Customers' commitments arise from their perceptions of the agency's commitment to providing high value in product / service offerings. Commit To Training and Development. Establishing a customer-driven orientation requires extensive training and development of the work force. Everyone must understand how his or her job contributes to customer satisfaction. Employees must not only know their roles, they also must recognize that they can change their jobs to enhance customer satisfaction. Monitor Performance. A customer-driven orientation must be evaluated, monitored, and reinforced. Commonly, this has meant conducting "complaint analysis" or regularly monitoring customer attitudes by using surveys. While these efforts are a start, they must also be translated into internal systems where behavioral change in the agency is rewarded at all organizational levels, either intrinsically or extrinsically.

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~ ~ ': ~ : 1 The Central Role of Research ) arket a d customer research is central to successfully adopting a customer or market orientation. Having ~ V ~ a customer focus: Market and customer research serves an important role in developing a customer and market orientation by: on't sit back and say, "Well, I've done market research so we're customer-oriented." If you are like most ~ agencies, most of you have conducted market and/or customer research in the past three years. have conducted research in the past year. Moreover, the scope of these past efforts is limited and is seldom used to direct major policy decisions. Most research efforts at transit agencies are directed at assessing customer attitudes or satisfaction with services and public opinion about agencies' performance or image. That is, the purpose of research is largely limited to a control function and serves primarily to confirm past decisions. Research seldom is used to develop or test policies, measure voter support for agency plans or tax / bond initiatives, estimate fare elasticity, or develop or test advertising or marketing concepts. Also, you are much less likely than private businesses and other public utilities to use research to identify and understand market segments - an important strategy for the development of new products and services as well as effective advertising and promotion campaigns. 1` ~ e need market and customer research more than ever. Several factors are stimulating the need for V V | more frequent and more e ctive use of inforrnabon: Involves obtaining information from customers about their needs and preferences. Requires concerted action by various departments in an organization. Generating information about customers' current and future needs and the factors affecting them, Assisting an organization in reconciling these customer needs with what an organization is capable of and willing to present to the market, and Monitoring the effects of the activities designed to meet select customer needs in achieving organizational goals and objectives. However, these research efforts have been limited in scope and frequency. In addition, only half or you The marketplace is increasingly characterized by a growing number of types of stakeholders - more diverse customers - that are changing more frequently. This means that a broader array of information has to be used and that standard means of interpreting information are no longer adequate. The time available for making decisions is getting shorter as agencies are better able to bring new products and services to market sooner and to enter new markets more quickly than in the past. The half-life for information - the average time for which it is valid - is shrinking as changes in the marketplace occur increasingly often. This means that what is true today is less likely to be true tomorrow. Transit managers not only need to examine market conditions more often, but also must be prepared to translate data into action much more frequently. Agencies have many attractive options to pursue with increasingly scarce resources. More careful use of market research is necessary to decide the right thing to do and how to do it right. This means that agencies need more exploratory or developmental market research, even at the expense of the confirmatory research that now accounts for most of the research budget in all but a few agencies.

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~ l. :; ~ I: M In today's complex world, it is no longer of value for a manager to seek only the Right" decision. Rather, the greatest value is in managing the decision-making process in a way that increases the chances of choosing the best decision among the available alternatives, and in having that decision effectively carried out. This type of decision-making process requires appropriate tools, expertise, and innovative momentum to achieve quality decisions. Market and customer research is key to this process. The twelve agencies on the following pages used this key to unlock new strategies for eldership growth. arket and customer research is an invaluable tool to managers in many functions. Organizations that have recognized the importance of market and customer research have identified many benefits to integrating a research function into their organizational decision making. Improving the Quality of Decision-Making. Most important, market and customer research improves the quality of decision making by shedding light on the desirability of various altematives. While market and customer research cannot guarantee the ultimate success of any single decision, reliable and valid research data can eliminate bad alternatives and provide input into the strengths and weaknesses of other potential alternatives. This significantly reduces the risk and uncertainty inherent in any decision. Understanding the Marketplace. Market and customer research provides a better understanding of the external environment in which a system is operating. This has long been the primary use of market and customer research. However, with the escalating rate of change and the increased focus on the customer and customer service, organizations are recognizing that a research function that continually surveys the marketplace allows them to take a more proactive stance in the marketplace. That is, agencies introduce new products and services to take advantage of opportunities. They adjust existing products or customer service before flaws become major problems. It is the difference between viewing the turbulent environment in which many agencies operate as a "threat" - a reactive stance - or an "opportunity" - a proactive stance. Fincling Out What Went Wrong. Under its diagnostic role, market and customer research is effective in identifying why something did not work out as planned. Instead of leaping to the conclusion that the decision itself was inherently flawed, research data can provide information as to whether some unforeseen change in the external environment caused the problem. Alternatively, it can identify what factor or factors in the implementation of the decision led to the problem. This information can then be used to avoid making a similar mistake in the future. F ~ I... Hi. I.

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at: : ~ ~ ~ :: > ~: ~ ~ :::: ~ ::: i ::::: :::: ~. ~ ~ d. :~;: I~ A t Calgary Transit in Alberta, Canada, market research has major relevance to the agency's success in mee ing policy goals. Maybe because they have applied what they learned, with positive results. Their omnibus surveys (conducted by private research firms for several clients at once), annual customer satisfaction surveys (500 telephone interviews), tri-annual work travel censuses, focus groups and "quick response" surveys go from macro to micro levels in a hierarchy, from examining overall community transportation priorities and determining how transit is viewed by the public; through identifying system-wide issues about service development; to more focused issues like passenger amenities. Examples Persona/ Security: The larger telephone survey showed that evening riders felt isolated on station platforms, with 1 in 5 riding less often because of it. Passengers indicated that any kind of official presence would help overcome their personal safety concerns. Calgary Transit moved the cleaning schedule at stations to evenings (rather than after the stations were closed) so uniformed staff were present and visible. Spare-board drivers and safety-training staff were assigned to patrol the stations and parking lots. City police made a security audit of stations and parking lots, suggesting improvements. With new procedures, passengers' sense of security was greatly improved. Fare Evasion: Evasion of the C-Train honor fare was thought to be around one percent, but a look at passenger revenue data indicated it may be higher. Interviewers asked passengers how much they had paid and requested proof. A warning (rather than a $35 citation) was issued to respondents who had not paid a fare. The findings showed an evasion rate of 7.5 percent. At some stations, the rate was as high as 14 percent. With these results, Calgary Transit increased the citation from $35 to $150. Follow-up surveys showed that the fare evasion rate declined from 7.5 percent to 1.5 percent. Comparec/ fo You The annual market research budget is $60,000 for outside costs; 25 percent of this is set aside for the quick response surveys last year there were three. Governed by the Calgary City Council, Calgary Transit has 576 buses and 85 rail cars; a staff of 1,684; and serves a population of 717,000. Annual passengers? 45 million bus boardings and 33 million C-Train boardings. 'nary insit .~.~..~.... . A/be~a, Car7ac/a i. .. ~ . ., : .~.~:~.:.:~.~...reaso=:..~.~ma~.~-. ..: :. . . - m..~..:~e.. macm..~..~....~e~- ~ 2':''L.. :: - :-: . - .- - .- _ -: -.,,,,, ;,,,, i,,,, ...... _ ~ ~ W~ ^. -. - ~...^n~e _min-~ As,.:,. alar" ~ ~ -~:J~ it - ~ 8~- - ~:-_. - ~. _. I. : - . :- : .... :: :: :.: ::. : . ~. : ::: ~ : -: --. ~.~ --: .-. -.-~.-~:.~---~ :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: :: ~::~ :~: ::: :::::::::::::::::::::::: ::: ::::::::::::::: :::: :~::::::~:: :~: :~: ~ ~: ~ :~ ~ ::~:: ~ ~ ~ :~: ~ ~ ail: ~:~ ~ ::~: ~ ~ ~ ~ :::: ::: :: :::::: :::::::::::::::::::: . ..: ~ ~ ~ ~ ~-~ ~: -I ..--T.ran.~it..Stridies~..~fin~tor.

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-appeal Me Pro Austin, Texas C .. ~, ....... ~ ~.~ ~.~, ~ ~ ~ ~ _ __ ~ ~ _ ~ "Our Mae research focuses on ED decisions land insole Leper who worm Ibex mosey affects ~ a change --- :o = and- :;: : : .: . .: ~ . ~- apital Metro tends to focus their market research on specific decisions that need to be made. Whether the need for information is identified by the governing board or bus operators, the agency uses what they find to guide their solutions. In addition to rider - nonrider surveys and user focus groups, employee discussion groups are used to learn the perspectives of nearly everyone who would be affected by something new. Examples New Transfer Policy: When a new transfer policy was considered and still in the developmental stage, Capital Metro brought the ideas to a group of bus operators. Not surprisingly, the drivers made some very good suggestions that helped make the system more friendly to riders and easier for the operators to enforce. Capital Metro incorporated most of their suggestions into the new program that was accepted with ease by passengers. New Buses' New interiors: Realizing that the comfort of the ride is considered important by passengers, they were among the first to be consulted as the agency began the acquisition process for new coaches. A rider focus group made many suggestions that helped to construct the questionnaire for a larger quantitative survey in which current riders would evaluate proposed features of the new vehicles. "Bus Book": Combining all the timetables into one document was proposed to help passengers use the service, so why not ask them what they think? A prototype schedule book and other samples were discussed approvingly by a group of riders. Full information, such as a complete schedule book or a system map, is used often by people who ride for many (trip) purposes; they tend to be mostly dependent on public transit. Capital Metro continued the project with their customers' guidance. Compared to You Riclership is increasing about four percent a year, to 28 million boardings in 1994. Service is provided to the area's 536,000 people using 269 buses, 19 trolleys and 69 specialized vehicles. Market research is done by outside contractors.

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C/eve/and R., . C/eve/and, Ohio 11 ~ d~ ~ Ia ~ - - The agency got away from its history of day-to-day crisis management by developing a long range plan and a Total Quality Program (with maximum employee involvement) led by the results of research with riders, nonriders, employers and special markets. "Now we design service and equipment by giving the public what they ask for. It works!" said Director of Marketing Stephen Bitto. Market research and the TO philosophy are integral parts of the Drive for Excellence program, involving training for all 2,650 employees. Research identifies the areas TO teams need to work on, measures the effectiveness of the programs, and helps prioritize budget items. "If research indicates that security is of growing concern, the budget will reflect an emphasis on this problem," said Director of Strategic Planning & Research Joel Freilich. Example Gateway Sports & Entertainment Complex {in c/. Jacobs Fief/: When the $300 million complex was planned, RTA became a key part and now has a priority boarding location. Rider surveys showed that security was an increasingly important concern. So, RTA convened focus groups of Cleveland Indian ticket holders who confirmed it, saying that the concern (second in importance only to convenience) was even greater in the evenings and would be a barrier against transit use. RTA contributed design guidelines for personal security in the new $11 million walkway connecting the boarding area with the complex: call boxes, video cameras, lighting, windows and emergency exits. Increased security on the trains and buses and at park / ride lots resulted in a reduction of 19 percent in crimes against persons and a 45 percent increase in arrests during 1994. To decrease the evening waiting time, RTA increased service frequencies. The results? On Opening Day, RTA carried 44 percent of the Indians' fans to the game double their projections. Compared to You Last year's total budget was $175 million. Governed by elected and appointed officials, the 700-bus and 108- rapid car system provided 61 million rides in its service area of 1.4 million people. :.'.~..C=~m~~sa~c~n~.~.is--~ ~ : it. i. ~ ~ ~ ~: ~ ~ ~.~ it. ..~ ~ ~ ~. ~ ~. ~ ~ ~ ~.~ ~ ~ ~.~ .~ ~-~ ~ Aft. ~ i.-. i- ~ - ~ ~ . ~, ..... ~.~ . ~ .~ . ~ ... ~: .~- .~ ~-~ - ~-~-~ ~ ~ if- ~ ~ - .u.e ,l.ver. ~.e,lq,.~.lr~q ,~e. ~us.omer. i. ~ becom ~ ~ ~.~.~.-~- ~,.~,~ - , ~a. : ~ : -; G,en~i M, ,a,nage~,,,S, , ', ::,: ,.~ .,',.-.,. ; ~''~'' ''aid ~ : ~ . .~ ,,,, i, ~ ~ i,,, ~ ~,~ i,, i, ,,,,, i ..~ ~ it, ,.,,,,,, .,, ,,,, i,, Am,, if, ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ long-term ridership and service decline was met head-on by the RTA's new board members and general manager. From a low point five years ago, RTA has increased customer confidence and satisfaction, as well as ridership. RTA's goal is, "Qualify Service, Every Customer, Every Day." . . .. . . . ....

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YNX Orlando, Florida ~ . . . ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: .. - o::~.:.~^n.~:.:. ::: :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ::::::::::::::::::: ::::::::::::::: ;...b..asiness''e2 s...~and~: ....... .......... ~ .. ~ . ~ . ........... .... .... ~ ~ ~ ,- ~. ~- . .~ ~ - - At- -- ~-~--~ I -- .~ ~ ~ --. .- ~isi~rs: ~O:urp~ns;s~ Cam :con~-wo - ~ Hi- ~ - .............................. ~ ~............... ~ .~ ~ ~ i . ............. ~ , ... ~.~ ~ ---.-. ~ ~.-~ ~ Act. it - i. ~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ ~ ... - - - . ~ . ~ . ~ ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ c, w,,s,,. .~,,,.. ,m..'....e,,,m,','*.,.',,i,,':'''''''' .. .. i . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ ~ . ~. . ,~...De, b,o,'rah,~..~.,~.op'a~,. .. . .... ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ .... :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: :::::::::::::::::::::::::::: CI aptu ing the imagination of the people you serve may be difficult when Disneyworld is your neighbor. In addition to the larger-than-LYNX Disney fleet, there are over 200 private transportation providers in the Orlando area; add to the mix an extensive use of low cost rental cars and the area's urban sprawl. Yet, LYN) ridership is at an all-time high (about one million rides per month), increasing a whopping 34 percent in the past 18 months. Example Thev do quick studies and man iust frv fbinas: Until four years ago, the former Tri-County Transit was a sleepy, relatively unknown service. Then a dynamic and influential community leader (with a background of political campaigns and polling) took over the board. Operations, formerly run by an outside company, were assumed by staff. They started with a survey of 1,200 households, focus groups, and personal interviews with 40 community leaders. A new strategic plan was formed from what was learned in the studies. The first objective was to raise the awareness of transit and attract attention. They held a new-name contest in which 12,000 entries were received. The downtown transit center was painted a bright flamingo pink. They painted the buses all sorts of vivid colors. LYNX took on an energetic community role. They have a system-wide onboard survey and small onboard surveys when new service is requested. They take tiny computers onboard and directly input the questionnaire responses; special software provides results almost instantly. They cut through much of the red tape commonly associated with public agencies and start new service in a very short time, showing an enthusiastic, customer-driven approach. The research establishes credibility for the sometimes revolutionary changes that the board is requested to approve. There is a fundamental belief in the value of research. LYNX is willing to face the truth and do something about issues and problems raised in the research. If there isn't time for research, LYNX is apt to try things and then find out what happens-with surprising success. Compared to You The 140-bus LYNX system-or Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority provides transit to a population of 1.2 million in its service area of Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. (This is about the same size population that Portland, Oregon's Tri-Met system serves with a bus fleet that is five times larger and also offers rail.)

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Houston, Texas ''5 ~ d~ J;: I~ METRO divides their market research into three phases: front-end research to identify market needs and develop products and services; mid-cycle tracking measurements; and evaluation methods to draw conclusions and identify successes. Why is market research heavily used? All users of the results are involved in the projects; also, management recognizes that the agency cannot be doing everything perfectly, and acknowledges both opportunities and problems. Examples 19941995 Commuter/ unmet Needs Scuds A 1,200-respondent telephone survey and focus groups were conducted to examine the transportation patterns of Harris County residents, especially commuters. Areas where respondents have difficulty finding transportation were identified. Nontraditional service concepts were tested (e.g., nonstop transit center shuttle and high-speed service.) 1993 Rider Attrition Assessment;: To address ridership declines, 5,000 households were contacted by telephone. METRO discovered that most former riders changed jobs to locations not served by transit or they bought a car. Recommendations from the study included direct mail about convenient park & ride service and developing new services to meet the needs of non-CBD trips. Quaffer/y Communications Tracking Survey About 800 telephone interviews measure awareness and perceptions of service, performance, public messages, advertising and effectiveness. Downtown Refai/ /mpacf Study: Over 200 retailers and leasing agents were interviewed to evaluate METRO's impact on the downtown area and gauge support for transit center proposals. ADA METROLiff Passport Eva/uefion: To convert paratransit passengers to fixed-route service, METRO offered free passes. This survey showed that 13 percent of METROLift clients switched to fixed-route and that revenues lost by the free rides were offset by the reduced subsidy. Compared to You With 1,300 buses providing 60 million passenger trips, METRO is the tenth largest bus system in the U.S. METRO's 3,800 employees serve a population of 2.7 million. ...~n..~.~.on~..~.~ma~g.:.. ::: .... ~ ....... - - ~ - . - -. ~ . . - . .. - - . - ....... - - ~ .. .. ~ - ~ ~ . ~ ~ . ~ ~ ~ - ~ - ~ ~ ~ ~ . ............... . ~ . ~ ~ .. ... . ~ . ~ . ~ .. ..... ~ ..... ~ ~ ~ ~ . . ~ . ~ . ~ ~ ..... . ~ ..... ~ . ~ . ~ ~ ... ~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ i. ~ . ~ .. - is. ~ ~ i ~ ~ ~ - . ~. ~ ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ - ~ .- ~ ~.~ .: - ~ - ~-.~ ~ ~ .. .. ... _ .,,,_ ,_ .~.~4, ..~. .. ~ . .~. M_ _ _ ~ .-theri..~..deve~3:`ng.:~or..ad1.as.hn.g..~...:.: .. , .......... , ............. ..... se~e.~:.ac I.... - a~t..ne :~ ~:~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . ::~ ~: i:: it: i: ~ ~ ~ i: i: i: i. ~ : ~ ::~: ~ i: ~ ~ ~ ~:~ ~ ~ ~ :: :: ~ ~ ~.~ ~ ~ it: ~ ~ ~ :~ : ~.~ :~ i: ~ i:: ~ ~ ~ ~ if. ..~.e ~e. ~r - .e.a. ~ : ~ ; ince creating a market research department five years ago to test and evaluate advertising, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) developed an additional reason to use research they now develop new services and adjust existing services by first listening to residents.

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Develop Agency wing a Research Function at Your Developing and maintaining an effective market and customer research function such as those described on the previous pages are still relatively new ideas in transit management. Even transit agencies that regularly conduct market and customer research have yet to overcome many obstacles before market and customer research is thoroughly integrated into transit decision-making at all levels of management. Because most managers in transit agencies have little experience with market and customer research, they frequently assume that launching a research project is a straightforward process - you ask questions, you get answers, and you present them to management for action. However, it is not that simple. Agreeing on a research purpose, identifying what matters and measuring it are difficul/tasks. Further, managers frequently do not act in accord with research results, or if they do act, the actions are often not successful. What are the issues that create this situation? Many causes affect the use of market and customer research. They are concerned with the: Extent of management commitment, Research design and focus, Technical quality of the research, Degree of trust in the research process and in those conducting the research, and Organizational structure and culture. Transit agencies must change to survive and grow to meet today's challenges. Integrating marketing and customer research into transit decision making is part of tom A................... Have top managers agreed that there is a nee4~flT . There are six I your organization. Has the organization designated a chaff TO ~ 'fig person or group been given the responsibility Your agency must be open to answering "yea. both ~ parts in order to be able to introduce change. Even armed with a "yes" answer to this question, t~encies often do not recognize market and customer research as central enough to warrant a comprehensive approach. Unfortunately, this situation becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy, reinforcing the idea that market and customer research has little to contribute and should not

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be given much prominence and support. To overcome these beliefs, researchers and other champions of market and customer research must become agents of organizational change. In this role, they must: Convey to others in the agency the principles and concepts of a strong market and customer research unction, Demonstrate how it addresses important agency needs, and Reduce barriers between those who provide and those who use information. Some simple strategies for initiating this change include: Foster an environment that is conducive to conducting market and customer research. This means that the agency must allow time for reflection and analysis, to think about strategic plans, dissect customer needs, assess current work systems, and develop new products and services. Top management must explicitly free up employees' time for the process of research. Training in brainstorming, problem solving, evaluating experiments, and other core research skills is essential. ~ ~ Open boundaries and stimulate the exchange of ideas. Boundaries inhibit the flow of information and the use of market and customer research. They keep individuals and groups isolated, and reinforce preconceptions. Boundaries can be opened up.with.conferences, meetings, and project teams which link the company and its customers, ens.u.~.~.ng~ a ~ ~ ideas and the chance to consider competing perspectives. )~ ~ ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ ........... ::. I. ~ ~ ~ -~ ~ ~ -- .~ . ~ ~ : ............ :: . ~, j: : . . - - - . ~ : - :: .... At. .~ ~ if Before sta ting up a new functi ~ ~ stud and Al ~ h it! are no . One must be fully aware of , . .. and appreciate current assumptions about manna m i n and the use of information to grasp what is presently being done Stand whistle ~agen~might improve or change. ................................................. ~,., ~; Create the conte t and identi6::tHe:~cr dial busi-ne=~challe s. Senior management must establish Opeerbartoea~dnetrhfrafrntework to guide change ~ ~i; i~i~ the agency and a "vision" of how it will Consider cultural facto m carefully~choosrg a' at but any stra egy. Make changes in sunall steps. Large lee ires that many initiatives be put in place in a care ully designed, integrated sequence. Sudan ay be doomed to failure rom the sta t. Rather, changing an organization through a series~of ~|focused, and speci ic changes will allow people to experience success. The result is still likely ~ scale change. Institutionali e the changes that work - a ~d ~ the rest. All too 0 ten, organizations will attempt a change. When one aspect of the change d ~ n~..work, the tendency is to discard the entire program. Rather, as management gains experience, 4; ~ take steps to institutionalize the practices and technologies that contribute most to reaming aunt build those into the infrastructure of the company. ~1~1_ Periodically review progress and reformula~strategy. Results-driven improvement is an empirical process in which managers use the experience of each phase as data for shaping the next phase of change. Fresh insights flood in from early experiments - how quickly project teams can make gains, what kind of support they need, what changes in work methods can be implemented quickly, what obstacles must be addressed at higher levels of the organization. Armed with this information, senior management can refine strategies and timetables, and in consultation with others in the agency carve out the next round of strategies to incorporate reaming into the organization as confidence and momentum grow.

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&s ~ dg:L :~i Improving the Value of Market Research nce a market research function has been established, a tension often still remains between the need to JO develop a sustained market and customer research function and the many factors that discourage effective information use and that diminish the value of market and customer research. Managing this tension is perhaps the single most important challenge facing agencies today as you seek to integrate market research into decision making. To improve the value of market and customer research in your organization, seventeen propositions have been developed. The greater value comes from more proactive thinking in decision making and identifying new opportunities for ridership growth. In turn, greater value will lead to ongoing support and commitment from top management - the central ingredient to a sustained market and customer research function. I D I LO reposition l: Establish an Objective and tndepenclent Research Function Establishing a research function that allows those responsible for planning and conducting the research to maintain their objectivity and independence is an important first step to increasing the value of market research. This is not to imply that agencies must establish a market research department. Indeed, there is a direct relationship between the establishment of a specialized, differentiated department and agency size. Rather, we are suacestino that no matter the acencv size. when research is being conducted those involved in designing and managing the function are organized and charged in a way that insures their independence and objectivity. Several factors can contribute to loss of independence and objectivity within the research function. The more dependent the market research function is on individual departments or staff for ongoing support and budgets, the less objective research results will be perceived to be. Researchers dependent on internal clients for support may bias the research in support of the client's initial position. Moreover, they may be constrained in developing new methods and surfacing new issues. Finally, because each study may require a specific interest sponsor, other potential users of the research may distrust the results, particularly if they conflict with programs they wish to bring forward. To overcome this, agencies should: reposition 11: Form Manager- Researcher Teams Early The earlier researchers and managers begin working as a team on current and future issues, (1 ) the better the managers' understanding of the research process, and (2) the better the researchers' understanding of management issues and research needs. Transit managers should: _ _ _ Establish a separate market research function that has its own budget. The source of this budget should come from all departments that are likely to use any or all of the research produced. In this way, no single department will be viewed as the sole supporter of the market research function. Alternatively, the research function could receive its budget allocation from the agency's general fund. In this way, the function is not beholden to any departments, but to the agency as a whole. Involve researchers at the initial stages of the research effort. Make it clear what decisions are likely to result from the research and what alternatives are being considered. If an external firm is to be used, issue the research request and select a consultant before the final research design is cast in stone. Finally, involve all potential users of the research effort at this stage.

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roposition Ill: Built! Staff Skills In Market Research Design and Analysis The better trained the research staff is in market research design and analysis as well as in the basic issues of managerial decision making and risk analysis, the more managers will be open to diverse sources of information and methodologies. Look for these skills when hiring research stay While basic training in research methodologies is essential, higher level thinking skills, experience in leading meetings and encouraging participation, and broad-based experience with a variety of techniques and methodologies are equally important. Ongoing training of staff should be used to enhance the development of these higher-level skills. [A reposition IV: Increase Managers' Understanding of the Research Process The greater the managers' understanding of the research process - what it can and cannot do and when it is and is not necessary - the greater the level of trust between managers and researchers. Also, lack of understanding lessens the perceived value of formal research as a learning tool for the agency. Give managers the opportunity to learn about the research process through continuing education programs or through internal training. Encourage internal research staff or external consultants to take the time to explain the research process and the specific aspects of a research project at a level of detail to foster understanding. Ask researchers to talk in your language and develop an understanding of the constraints under which the user operates. Above all, do not be afraid to ask questions and seek answers. I D I reposition V: Increase Researchers' Understanding of Managerial Issues The more knowledgeable researchers are about managers' issues and their specific tasks and decision constraints, the greater the level of trust between managers and researchers. Also, the greater the familiarity among researchers about the circumstances surrounding the approach of a research project, the greater the perceived value of the information made available to managers. Give the researcher feedback about the use I nonuse of the research. This will enhance the researchers knowledge of the agency and will improve the quality of future research efforts. This is especially important if the agency expects to have a continuing relationship with the firm or if the research provider is an internal department. reposition Vl: Encourage Openness to Diverse Information and Methodologies More openness by managers and researchers to diverse sources of information and methodologies leads to a greater ability to (1 ) reconcile diverse points of view, (2) identify critical information needs and avoid unnecessary research, and (3) develop novel syntheses of diverse information. Challenge the idea that a given methodology is the only one appropriate for a given task. Be willing to see alternative viewpoints about an issue. Foster an atmosphere that encourages an open assessment of the different positions when alternative viewpoints are brought forward. Discourage an "entirely right" or "entirely wrong" mentality with respect to different positions. This will encourage creative syntheses that add even more value to available information.

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roposition VIl: Increase Trust Between Researchers and Managers PL ~ The 9 eater the level of personal trust managers have in researchers, (1 ) the greater the use of research, and (2) the more open managers are to new and perhaps surprising research results. Trust has been found to influence the perceived quality of user-researcher interactions, the level of researcher involvement, the level of user commitment to the relationship, and the level of market research use. To increase the level of trust between researchers and managers: Researchers and managers must work together to enhance the use of information in decision making. The organization must foster an atmosphere where researchers and managers understand, respect, and to some extent adapt to each other's frame of reference and needs. Researchers must understand the comfort zones of the users of the research and use effective communications when results fall outside the comfort zone. I D I roposition VIll: Develop Novel Insights From Varied Information Sources The greater the ability to develop novel insights from varied information sources, the greater the incidence of ideas that give an agency a unique advantage. Encourage the use of alternative information sources and different methods for gathering data. Use outside expertise as needed. Be willing to give greater emphasis and credence to information that is abstract and yet possibly more reliable. Include the researcher in the decision-making process, allowing them to provide an objective view of research results and their implications for the decision and to represent the "voice of the market" throughout all subsequent discussions. reposition IX: Identify Critical Information to Reduce Unnecessary Research One of the most significant services a market research function can provide is to help managers identify and challenge their own assumptions and examine alternative perspectives on what they know. This process highlights important areas where knowledge is lacking and where market or customer research will have greater value. Moreover, it minimizes the conduct of unnecessary research that is not relevant and hence has little value. Researchers can help managers identify critical information to avoid unnecessary research by: Identifying clearly what is essential to know, what is presently known or not known, and what is and is not already known and available elsewhere. Acting as a knowledge development expert who helps managers identify critical information requirements rather than acting primarily as a collector of primal data. Being willing to recommend foregoing research when it will have little value. I D I roposition X: Reconcile Diverse Viewpoints The greater the ability to reconcile diverse viewpoints, the higher the incidence of and (2) of identifying opportunities for ridership growth. . (1) successful research efforts Involve researchers and users of the information early in the research design process. Encourage a process by which all alternative points of view are discussed and criteria are established for setting priorities for research information needs.

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reposition Xl: Increase Managers' Openness to New ant! Surprising Results PWhile it is desirable to challenge core assumptions, few managers do, mainly because it simply doesn't occur to them. Frequently the decision time frame is too short to permit adequate exploration of alternative viewpoints. Just as often, there are too many assumptions to tackle at one time. As the level of trust between managers and researchers increases, managers will be increasingly open to new and surprising results. The research function has an opportunity to assist in this area by providing leadership in challenging thinking about assumptions and decisions. Managers can increase their openness to new and surprising results by: Seeking the obvious but doing everything in their power to challenge and even ridicule it. Question all constraints. The most limiting constraints are usually imposed not by the problem but by the mindset of the problem solver. Challenge as many assumptions about the problem as possible. Remember what seems self- evident may not always be evident to others. Question the scope or definition of a problem. Frequently, what is omitted from the statement of a problem is as critical as what is included. Question whether a problem is to be "solved," "resolved," or "dissolved." Question logic. Being logical and being right are not always the same. The more logical a solution to a complex problem sounds, the more it deserves to be challenged. These guidelines for managers can help researchers: Present a broader array of ideas and understandings for possible use by managers. Help reduce the likelihood of acting on an incorrect assumption or one that may simply not yield the best decision. reposition Xll: Increase Use of Market Research Throughout the Agency Research must be used to be of value. Despite this somewhat obvious truism, much research is not used or used effectively. Effectively demonstrating the high incidence of successful past efforts will increase the level of future research use. This can be done by: Publicizing successes through internal memoranda. Discussing market and customer research findings and their implications at planning and/or staff meetings. Whenever possible, arranging for a presentation or briefing - either formal or informal - for senior management and the board. roposition XIII: Use Research To Identify Opportunities for Ridership Growth The greater the incidence of ideas that identify opportunities for ridership growth, the greater the incidence of a thinking-to-lead - that is, proactive thinking - compared with a thinking-to-follow - that is, reactive thinking - management planning process. Make sure the research focuses on decisions that are to be made and/or alternatives that are being considered. . Avoid gathering information for information's sake.

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la :: ~ [: reposition XlV: Make Decisions Based on Research The higher the incidence of successful decisions based on research the greater the value of future research. The failure-of-success syndrome often occurs when one tries to apply a successful previous effort to a new situation without considering changes in the situation. rDI reposition XV: Conduct Relevant, Timely, Accurate, and Cost-Effective Research All decisions involve uncertainty - both in the information on which they are based and the forecasts of the consequences. Successful market and customer research is decision-oriented. This means that to have value, market and customer research should be undertaken only when the results will reduce uncertainty and influence decisions. Indeed, there is little point to research if the decision-maker cannot alter the decision or alternatives based on the information. More specifically, to have value, market and customer research will make the greatest contribution when it is relevant to current or anticipated decisions, timely, cost-effective, and accurate. Place emphasis on conducting research that is focused on decisions. Research conducted to satisfy curiosity or confirm the wisdom of previous decisions has little value. Relevance comes through the support of strategic and tactical planning activities - by anticipating the kinds of information that will be required to assist in decisions. To insure relevant research: Decisions usually are constrained by time and must be made according to a specified schedule, using whatever information is available. While the timing of decisions often is contingent on the research results, more often than not decision dates must be achieved regardless of the availability of information at that point. While partial information at decision-making time is obviously of greater value than complete information later, this property of market and customer research has several important implications that can affect the overall value of the information. To ensure timely research: Cost-efficient research provides the maximum amount and quality of information with the minimum expenditure of time and money. In some cases, research is not justifiable although it can clearly contribute to a decision. In such cases, the costs of a minimally acceptable study exceed the foreseeable benefits of increased ridership, imaged customer satisfaction, or other criterion. To ensure cost-efFicient research: Do not rely on thinking and planning processes that worked well in the past. Recognize that past thinking and actions, although successful, may need to be altered to fit the current situation. Examine carefully their appropriateness to current or new situations. As the agency conducts research, take time to let others know about the results of the research and how it was used. Constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the research function and the way in which the agency learns and uses research to aid in decision-making. Having a better understanding of the research function and its relationship to decision-making, and making improvements in the organization of the research function as it becomes more integrated with decision-making will insure its success and increase its future value. Undertake market and customer research as new circumstances arise and/or decision alternatives become more specific. Focus constantly on decisions throughout the planning and implementation of these projects. Design the research so that partial results are available at various times. Think about conducting research ahead of foreseeable decisions by thinking about the continuum of information rather than a single research result at one point in time. Estimate the cost-efficiency of each project and the value of research information for each decision. Use research designs and research procedures that give good results with high probability, rather than more sophisticated approaches that give excellent results if they are correct, but may be very inaccurate if some of their assumptions are not met.

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. 1 5~ Bllg:l `1a 1 Requirements for timeliness, efficiency, and relevance should not compromise the accuracy of market and customer research. To help ensure accuracy: Since researchers and their results are continually subject to the pressures of the organization, it is unrealistic to pretend that bias and distortion are not introduced - consciously and unconsciously. Awareness of the possibilities is usually the best defense. I D I I ~ reposition XVI: Use Quality Thinking Before, During, and After Data Collection Much of the focus in market and customer research has been on developing technologies for data acquisition and processing. Procedures have been developed to eliminate or at least isolate human bias by establishing "objective" guidelines for research design, sampling procedures, the construction and administration of questionnaires, reliance on formal analytical procedures, etc. This has occurred largely because of the separation of the research function from decision-makers. In contrast, less has been done on the process of using information and the quality of thinking. However, the quality of thinking by the researcher about an issue before data collection is a major determinant of the quality of thinking after the data have been collected. Managers can improve the quality of thinking by researchers before, during, and after data collection and by that increase the value of market research by: On the other hand, researchers can improve the quality of thinking before, during, and after data collection by: Use more than one approach to address a research problem. If several approaches with different kinds of biases yield similar conclusions, the accuracy of the research will be enhanced. Make the research as objective as possible. Ideally, this means the careful adherence to scientific methods. Do not slant the design of the research to achieve predetermined results. Discussing their expectations, ideas, comfort zones, etc. with the researchers and others prior to making decisions about research design, strategy, etc.. Understanding the importance of the information that is being gathered. A wide array of possible actions and better information about those possibilities are obtained when managers explicitly consider: (a) the importance of the questions that are being asked, (b) the questions' utility in developing an action, and c) what else is needed in choosing or implementing a decision for a given question to be useful. Simulating the use of information before doing field work. This prompts thinking about the actual use of information and leads to changes in research methods and instruments that will produce more usable results. Thinking about specific empirical outcomes well in advance of actual findings. Managers and researchers are then better prepared to interpret final results and can do so more quickly, perhaps shortening the decision time. Enumerating alternative actions or decisions before the design of a questionnaire. The researcher should identify the questions related to various actions and the kinds of analyses that will be done with the final data. Managers can then indicate where the data may be insufficient and/or excessive for evaluating these actions. Identifying early in the process where uncertainty is likely to remain and the cost of that uncertainty. Managers and researchers are then better prepared to determine the value of the proposed research as well as the value of additional research to further reduce uncertainty.

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Proposition XVII: Act, Don't React ~ Thinking-to-lead involves sensing changes in the market or environment in their early stages and developing creative responses. Thinking-to-lead represents a proactive stance. Conversely thinking-to-follow involves learning how to respond quickly and effectively to important changes in their advanced stages. Thinking-to-follow is a more reactive stance to the marketplace. Both kinds of thinking are necessary and important. However, the thinking-to-follow posture reflects an absence of commitment to being market and customer oriented and a lack of commitment to the use of marketing information. Moreover, as riders and potential riders become increasingly demanding of public transportation services and as more options for travel become available, a thinking-to-follow posture will lead to slow and or decreased ridership. To develop a thinking-to-lead stance, agencies should consider: Investing in training on how to surface assumptions, formulate issues, and interpret statistics in order to make effective use of new information systems and technologies. Develop values, cultural norms, and attitudes in the organization that are compatible with being proactive. Reward those who try to state their needs in terms of researchable questions and those who are fo~ard-looking and oriented toward strategic thinking. Be open politically to new knowledge. Place greater value on internal resources to gather, disseminate, and respond to market information. Hire specialists when needed. Decentralize and deformalize agencies - at least temporarily using special teams and/or committees - to increase the speed of decision making and the willingness to adopt innovations. Identify the bottlenecks in translating needs into research questions. Take a different view of how researchers and managers relate to each other. Expect researchers to keep managers informed at all times and to be involved in the decision-making process at particular times. Provide researchers with tools and training to take on this different role. Allow adequate time for market research to be conducted that is relevant, timely, and accurate. Assess user needs on a regular basis rather than simply at the beginning of a project. Communicate changes in needs to researchers in time for them modify the research. Allow users enough time to derive action implications from the research. . Transit agencies will continue to operate in an increasingly complex environment in which decisions will I ~ hav to be made at a faster rate and will affect more people, money, land, and resources than ever before. Indeed, it has been said that . . . we are now living in a second industrial revolution; but instead of steam, the new revolution is being propelled by information. And, as in the first revolution, relative success will be determined by the ability to handle the propelling force. . . There can be riffle doubt that the need today is for conceptual skills, that is, the ability to process information and make judgments. Source: Robin M. Hogarth, Judgment and Choice Integrating market and customer research into transit decision-making will bring transit agencies through this revolution and to the light at the end of the tunnel.