Project Bus Score

“Customers often know more about your products than you do. Use them as a source of inspiration and ideas for product development.” — David J. Greer

Voice of the Customer

Every facet of every business decision taken in redBus is based on improving customer service. This is what keeps the party alive. The search results page, is our 2ndmost important page, next only to our home page. This being our most prized real-estate — we place high emphasis on every detail: The loading speed, the caching methodology, the filter options, the design, the colour, the ease of use, the content format, the text size — All of these have evolved based on customer feedback and user studies. It is only natural that we show similar diligence in our sorting order.

The Sorting Hat of redBus

There are multiple ways to sort the search results and we give the customers the ability to sort the listings in the way they want to:

Filter by bus types | Sort by Departure Time | Sort by Price | Filter by Boarding Points | Filter by Offers Given | Filter by BO names | Filter by Amenities

The customer has the control to sort and filter as per his/her wish. This blog, though, is dedicated to discuss ‘Project Bus Score’.

Bus Score is redBus’ effort to reflect the customer requirements in the default sort order of the search results.

What should be the default sort order for our search results:

By departure time?

By Price?

By Customer Ratings?

By Number of Customer Ratings?

By Time Taken?

Bus Score is intended to help in the sorting order, it is a comprehensive mix of the top 6 parameters our customers have highlighted to us.

For the sake of abbreviations we call this the 6 ‘R’s that constitute Bus Score:

Parameter 1: Ratings (Provided by Customers)

  1. This is the top attribute in Bus Score
  2. How have passengers rated that particular bus service?
  3. How many passengers have rated a service?
  4. How has the daily average rating for a service been?
  5. Why not just sort it by Average Rating?
  6. Which is better? A service with Average Rating 4.5/5 with 5 Reviews Vs. Average Rating 4.4/5 with 100 Reviews?

Parameter 2: Reliability of the Services

  1. How reliable is this service?
  2. Have there been cases of cancelling the service previously?
  3. Have there been complaints of passengers being stranded at the boarding point?
  4. Is the software integration with the Bus Operator stable so that there are no booking issues?

Parameter 3: Reasonability

  1. How many days in advance is the chart opened?
  2. How customer friendly is the cancellation policy?
  3. Have there been cases of Duplicate listing? Thereby leading to customers not getting their chosen seat

Parameter 4: Responsiveness of the Bus Operator

  1. How has the bus operator responded to customer reviews/complaints?
  2. Has the Bus Operator launched any special offers for our customers?

Parameter 5: Rates (Pricing)

  1. Is the service reasonably priced?
  2. For the given amenities, type of bus and time of departure, is the particular service overpriced or on par

Parameter 6: Resources (Amenities)

  1. What are the amenities that the bus has?
  2. Does it have a ‘Track My Bus’ feature?
  3. Does it have a charging point? A blanket? Personalized TV? Snacks?
  4. Which are the most sought after amenities?

The idea is to showcase the best service upfront. As you can see, all the parameters are direct manifestations of customer service. This is what we have learned over multiple customer calls, customer feedback, user flow discussions and our most used features. Here is an example:

Sorting only on the basis of Ratings

Bus Score is a more balanced approach to customer requirements. Having a high average rating from only 10 ratings is easier compared to maintaining the same service quality over an extended period. You can see how the first listing has average of 4.7/5 from 6 reviews, whereas in Bus Score it is a service with 4.3/5 from 215 reviews!

The idea is to get the best service on the top and hence the sorting algorithm has to be comprehensive. All parameters captured in Bus Score calculation stem from the customer centricity of the Bus Service.

Same Listing Sorted by Bus Score

Forward and Further. Together.

This is a two way street. We need good bus operators to provide top quality service to our customers. We funnel this back to our Bus Operators: We tell them where they rank, what they can do better to improve their services. The intent is to pull-up the service standards of the entire industry.

What next?

Since the time we implemented Bus Score sorting, we’ve seen customers spend lesser time on choosing a service and proceeding to seat selection — A validation that our sort order helps customers identify their choice of service faster.

While we have started with Bus Score as the default sort for our top 50 routes, we’ll soon roll it out to the rest of the routes.

We’ve shared the feedback with Bus Operators on the overall journey, from customer feedback we’ve seen these are top amenities sought by customers:

Track My Bus | Charging Point | Wi-Fi | Water Bottle | Rest Stops | Snacks | Emergency Contact Numbers

Basis our feedback, operators have started adding better amenities in their services.

We’ll continue to work on our Bus Score sorting algorithm to reflect customer dynamics — The Customer preference for Delhi-Manali might be different from Hyderabad-Bangalore and the sorting algorithm will be tweaked to reflect that. This will continue to the effect that we come up with a personalized sorting order based on the preferences of each signed-in user.

In all this, it is key to understand that Bus Score is only the default sort order, the customers can sort or filter the results the way they want to. Bus Score is not shown as a separate filter to the user. That is just how we sort the results the first time it loads.

As always, we’ll continue to listen to customer inputs, please provide your comments.


Originally published at blog.redbus.in on June 20, 2016.