Facebook and Twitter have indeed made it easy for rail passengers to directly reach out to the concerned officials in case they face any inconvenience or problems while traveling. The rail ministry wants to widen that horizon. According to an ET report, Indian Railways is contemplating to add new social media features like Google+ and photo-sharing platform, Instagram to allow passengers to connect with senior rail management, apart from creating an in-house analytics tool to scrutinize complaints and suggestions on a real-time basis.
"We have reduced the response time of the actionable social media complaints to 30 minutes. The next step is to weave in passengers' feedback as one of the inputs in determining the performance of the railway workforce", says Railway Minister Prabhu, adding how the new analytics tool will help IR in figuring out problems both in terms of geography and function areas.
According to Ravinesh Kumar, executive director in charge of public grievances, the new backend software could be operationalised in two months which will give the top railway management a fair idea of the problem areas, the frequency of complaints, time to resolve problems by respective railway zones and divisions and other similar issues.
"The new analytics dashboard will show a sentiments-based word cloud segregated by problem types for various trains, stations, zones, divisions and the like," says a technical person in Kumar's social media team. Sentiments-based Twitter and Facebook comments appear in three colors: red, if a passenger talks about, say, a dirty toilet; green if she praises a clean platform; or gray if her comment is neutral.
According to the plans, however, about 100 premier users — the minister, two of his deputies, the railway board chairman and six of its members, 16 general managers (GMs) and 70 divisional railway managers (DRMs) — will be given access to a newly-created mobile app that can segregate the passengers' feedback into complaints, short and long term actionable, policy suggestions and the like.
There has been a massive pressure on senior rail officers, some of whom are nearing their retirement age, to understand nuances of social media, reports ET. All DRMs now have Twitter handles and are forced to check notifications all the time, as they are tagged when complaints are forwarded. As timings including arrival time and forwarding time of a complaint get recorded in the system, not being active on Twitter may prove costly for senior railway officials.
Twitter has tied up not just with the ministry of railways, but with the ministry of external affairs and ministry of commerce to deliver real-time customer services. According to Twitter India's data, it tracks about 350,000 citizen tweets a month, each tracking instance being related to the delivery of government services.