Classification of reasons for poor customer experiences in service industries: the case of public transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - service level, planning - service quality, planning - standards, mode - bus, mode - rail


passenger satisfaction, public transport, quality, reasons for poor service, service failures, classification


This paper examines why failures and deficiencies in customer service occur, as discussed in both general business research and in public transport research. The focus is not on individual encounters between customers and a service provider, but on the organisational context that leads to a particular quality of customer experience. Going beyond the facts about service quality, the reasons for failures in quality need to be classified and organised. Suggestions are made for this, beginning by distinguishing between reasons internal to public transport itself (which are split into four types, each being sub-classified) and those external (again of four types, each subclassified). The proposed method of organising the reasons is not specific to public transport, but could be adapted to other industries.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor & Francis, copyright remains with them.