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Is digitalisation the way to increased rail customer satisfaction?

December 09, 2015
Author: Tim Wesley

Europe's railways are beginning to make the switch from thinking about 'passengers' to 'customers.' As competition in the market grows, operators are actively searching for new ways to engage with their target markets, offer exceptional service and keep up to date with emerging technology trends. Read on to discover the insights Tim Wesley reported from the 2015 Revenue World Congress. 


The 2015's Rail Revenue World Congress in a nutshell 

The centre of the conference was customer engagement for rail operators and the ways in which rail can create the best journey experience by meeting the needs of today's generation of passengers.Themes discussed at the conference included:

  • Transforming the passenger rail industry
  • Rail digitalisation
  • Rail Revenue and Customer Management
  • Big data
  • Branding & marketing
  • Customer-centricity
  • Future ticketing and payments
  • Rail Customer satisfaction



Effective, collaborative IT projects to meet new demands

Michel Jadot, Director General, SNCB explained the strategic SNCB's position.For them, North-South and East-West crossroads means cross-border ticketing, a key business for them. SNCB also wants to explore European solutions, rather than individual provider solutions. They are perhaps unique in that they have many European railways to cater for on a daily basis. Due to the size of SNCB they have to be clever in how they approach their distribution, they wish to create a shared community of going it alone is too costly. Amadeus is helping them create this community, it means that railways can share resources and be quicker to market within a reasonable budget to achieve it.

Responding to customer's needs for simpler booking and cheaper fares

Jerome Laffon, Vice-President, SNCF-Voyages.com mentioned the importance to understand customer behaviours and to anticipate to their needs. SNCF has modified its online offer to match consumer's future needs by:

  • Making available multi-modal services e.g. bus, car and hotel
  • Testing A-B with customers (10,000 on their recent developments) to see what better fits to the changing consumer's behaviour

The result? A simple and fluid online experience through the whole booking flow. 

Personalised customer experience: how far is too far?

Accenture revealed during the conference the results of a European traveller survey conducted to understand the importance of personalisations. The general finding of the survey pointed that personalisation is key to satisfying the customer, but always at the right time, at the right place. 

Big data analysis to drive effective revenue management

NSB (Norwegian State Railways) believe in a new era of marketing using big data. Norway is the most connected country in terms of digitalisation. The major achievement for them is to bring down the costs of direct distribution, they have gone from 70% ticket sales in stations to 80% self-service, with the following split:

  • 50% is via web access using mobile phones
  • 1 in 4 travellers use their app
  • 40% of purchases are via mobile
  • They also have an 81% happy customer rating

NSB believe the real key to providing a customer centric offer is multi-modal journey planning, particularly for train, bus, ferry etc.

There are many initiatives that railways are putting in place to digitalise their sales channels and reduce the associated costs. There still seems to be a disjointed approach, where it is clear from the event that most initiatives are done locally. Could the global cost of digitalisation be reduced by the power collaboration? Should the EU consider supporting projects seeking for standardisation? Perhaps there needs to be more best practice sharing that could be reused throughout the rail industry.

For further reading on creating positive rail customer experiences download the Amadeus White Paper 'Empowering Inspiration: the future of travel search': 



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