With a number of people at BIO’s London HQ commuting in from the home counties, the frustrations of rail travel, particularly the problems caused by the troubled Southern Rail network, are never far from our minds. In Tech transforming the passenger experience, an article for Future Rail Magazine, Chief Marketing Officer and exasperated commuter Rebecca Crook comments on the need for train operating companies to become customer-centric and gain a genuine understanding of passenger needs and expectations.
She stresses the advantages for companies as well as customers. "Focusing on customers will not only increase passenger revenue and reduce negative comments but will lead to efficiencies, thanks to the development of more relevant products and services and lower R&D costs, as passengers will tell you what they want."
Rebecca suggests that rail companies have a lot to learn from the likes of Uber and Airbnb and stresses the importance of mobile, saying "Online services such as Uber understand that being just ‘good enough’ is not going to deliver growth or help them benefit from lifetime customer value. The disruptors are using the latest technology to help customers get what they want when they want it, and they realise mobile devices are increasingly the conduit for such interaction. Mobile devices will account for 75% of global internet use next year, according to the latest figures from media agency Zenith, and train companies need to figure out how to optimise their customer experience for these devices." She advises them to look outside the train industry, for instance at road companies like Greyhound in the US, who are transforming their ticketing system; and airlines who are investing in technology with the aim of being a trusted ‘travel concierge’.
She also breaks down the top five complaints of rail passengers – punctuality, on-board facilities, ticket buying, sufficient room to sit/stand, and ticketing and refunds policies – noting that in each case technology exists to help tackle these issues.
Read more on how rail networks can improve the customer experience at a fraction of the cost of operational improvements in Rebecca’s response to Network Rail’s Digital Railway strategy. Or take a look at our Service Revolution white paper to see exclusive insights from Mike Tuckett, Head of Transformation Delivery at TfL, on how and why London’s biggest transport body delivered a customer-centric revolution to millions of customers. We’re delighted that he could share his expert knowledge and insights with us.
For more insights on the opportunities and threats of digital disruption in the hospitality and travel industry see our white paper on the Connected Traveller.