BC Ferries Customer Service

July 21, 2009

Founded in 1960 BC Ferries has become one of the world’s largest ferry operators growing from two ships and terminals to 36 vessels and 47 ports of call.

In 2003 the provincial Liberal government spun BC Ferries into a separate independent commercial entity that operates under the Coastal Ferry Act with an executive team that reports to private sector board of directors.

The current CEO, David Hahn, joined the corporation as its CEO in 2003 and since then has assembled and led a team that has, in my opinion, made great strides forward in improving the customer experience with BC Ferries.

Now, with a company that employs 4,700 people, carries 8 million cars and 21 million people annually there is undoubtedly going to be imperfections.  Obviously it’s best to do a great job and minimize problems, but it’s more how a company reacts to and handles problems that differentiates it from other organizations.

Last Sunday afternoon I was returning to Vancouver through Departure Bay in Nanaimo and had a less than stellar experience.  So, while waiting in the ferry lineup I thought I’d email the company’s CEO (I know the email naming convention at the company) and tell him, in real time, about my experience.  I don’t know him and have never met him, so there’s no reason why my name appearing in his inbox would get his attention.

Pleasingly, he replied within twenty minutes (at 5:42pm on a Sunday, no less), apologized for my experience, offered an explanation and, more importantly, copied the relevant vice president and director level management in order to raise the issue with them and work toward solutions.

I haven’t heard back from either the VP or director on how they’re going to solve this problem, but I was, nonetheless, very pleased with their response.  This is clearly a CEO who cares about the company he is running and its paying customers.

If you’re interested in the email thread then let me know and I’ll forward it to you.


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