The National Academies

NCHRP 20-53 [Completed]

Using Customer Needs to Drive Transportation Decisions

  Project Data
Funds: $150,000
Research Agency: Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates
Principal Investigator: Kathleen Stein
Effective Date: 5/11/2001
Completion Date: 11/30/2002

Background: Customers are increasingly demanding more value in the products and services they receive. They are also becoming more diverse in how they define value in terms of meeting their specific needs. Public-sector organizations are becoming more proactive in providing products and services that save time, reduce costs, and improve quality. Research is needed to determine (1) how to group customers into meaningful segments based on a similar definition of value within each segment; (2) the most effective means of collecting reliable and quantifiable input from customers, and (3) how best to use customer input to make decisions on resource allocation and the delivery of products and services.

This project will help provide transportation agencies with vital information to make informed decisions on the delivery of products and services. This information is necessary for agencies to be able to assure the public, using valid data, that resources are being used in ways that respond to customer needs.

Objective: The objective of this project is to develop guidelines for transportation agencies on the most effective ways to collect and use data on the needs and expectations of customer segments in order to guide transportation policy and investment decisions.

For the purposes of this study, "customers" are considered to be the direct consumers or users of transportation products and services, as opposed to secondary stakeholders or interest groups.

Tasks: Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.

PHASE 1: (1.) Analyze, describe, and critique pertinent domestic and international research, on the basis of applicability, conclusiveness of findings, and usefulness for the achievement of project objectives. Include both completed research and research currently underway. (2.) Identify and analyze current experiences of public-sector transportation agencies in grouping their customers into meaningful segments. Based on the results, develop recommendations for the most effective customer segmentation. (3.) Identify and categorize techniques used by transportation agencies that have produced reliable and quantifiable data on the needs and expectations of various user segments. These should include techniques to assess (1) level of satisfaction with current transportation products and services, (2) relative importance of current transportation products and services; and (3) wants, needs, and expectations for new or modified products and services. Describe the types of information obtained, level of detail, statistical reliability, cost, and method of data collection. Using existing customer-feedback data, identify and discuss how user wants, needs, and expectations have changed over time. (4.) Identify the current best practices in the private sector and other nontransportation public-sector agencies to identify, prioritize, and address customer needs, wants, and expectations. Discuss which best practices may be appropriate and relevant for transportation agencies. (5.) Using the results of Tasks 1 through 4, identify best practices for transportation agencies to obtain customer input, and recommend steps, methods, and resources required to implement and evaluate customer feedback programs. (6.) Submit an interim report, within 4 months, to document Tasks 1 through 5 for review by the NCHRP. The contractor will be expected to meet with the NCHRP approximately 1 month later.

PHASE 2: (7.) Identify and analyze how transportation agencies have used customer input to make decisions concerning the allocation of resources and delivery of products and services. Identify recent measures taken by transportation agencies to create a greater emphasis on meeting the changing needs and expectations of its customers. Identify to what extent customer input has been used to identify strategic priorities; communicate with users, elected officials, and citizens; and target programs and funds to meet critical needs. Assess how agencies have resolved conflicting needs among different customer groups. Assess which practices have been considered to be the most effective by presenting case studies and success stories and identifying their common features. (8.) Develop guidelines for use by transportation agencies on the most effective ways to collect and use data on the needs and expectations of customer segments to guide transportation policy and investment decisions. (9.) Comment on the feasibility and options of developing and maintaining a mechanism for transportation agencies to share information, on an ongoing basis, regarding their experiences with the collection and use of customer feedback. (10.) Submit a final report that documents the entire research effort, including the results of Tasks 1 through 9, plus a stand-alone document containing the guidelines developed in Task 8. In addition, provide a companion executive summary that outlines the research results.

Status: The project is completed.

Product Availability: The contractor's final report has been published as NCHRP Report 487.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=610