“Our experience has been that even people who are critical, sometimes turn into an advocate or at least they’ll say they appreciated getting the answer or having their concerns listened to,” says Moore. “So being there, the negative feelings are going to be happening anyways. If you’re out there dealing with them and acknowledging them from your customers, you’re better off than just a wall of silence.”
“I think we experienced what other transit agencies experienced, too much of the hesitancy comes from the legal side, afraid of things like public disclosure and how you’re going to retain comments and do they become official public comment when somebody Tweets,” says Sound Transit’s Healy.
As he says, “Jaime is very confident about it and understanding it and that policy, so there’s a level of confidence in that she understands it, but they don’t have to.” Another way to raise the agency’s comfort level, Vogt says, is that up front on the platform, being clear about what the conversation means. “We try to do that on the front pages of our Facebook and Twitter pages, plus what level of service this interaction means.
“It’s not official public comment, that it’s a conversation and that goes into directing them to the right channels when they do want to say things more officially.”
TriMet’s Blevins offers some simple thoughts, “Start small. Establish rules. And, be consistent.