This article is by Sasha Jenkins, Business Development Director at Teleperformance UK.
Twice a year, the independent transport user watchdog, Transport Focus, collects data on what rail passengers think of the service they receive. The National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) provides a network-wide picture of customers’ satisfaction with rail travel. Passenger opinions of train services are collected twice a year from a representative sample of passenger journeys. Passengers’ overall satisfaction, overall satisfaction with the station and train, and satisfaction with 33 specific aspects of service can therefore be compared over time.
This survey contains a lot of data on the performance of the train operating companies, but more importantly it captures how passengers feel about the service they receive. It is an excellent snapshot of the voice of the customer.
There is a single page in the report that details the factors that are most correlated with customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction. This graphic displays the top 5 issues that cause both satisfaction and dissatisfaction for rail passengers today:
As can be seen, the factors that make customers satisfied are mostly what you might expect if you use a rail service yourself; clean, reliable trains that are frequent and fast. What really annoyed customers is unreliability, a lack of seats, and a lack of information about what is going on when trains are delayed.
This last point is actually the biggest factor of all in creating dissatisfaction with 58% of customers saying this is what ruins a journey – the way that the train company fails to deal with delays. We all know that this is true. If a train is not moving and the driver explains why and says that we will all be on the way in three minutes then the delay is generally accepted. If the train sits minute after minute without moving, the tension inside the train can be visible, as nobody knows what is going on and when the train might move again.
I believe that this is a really important area of focus for any train operator wanting to improve the customer experience. Information provided to customers at stations and on trains. Automating the provision of information so the customer experience is not just as random as having a driver who likes to keep the passengers updated. Information should be an automatic right and available easily.
Naturally this is easier now that almost every customer has a tablet or Smartphone in his or her pocket, but additional systems are needed for the customer who might only be carrying a paperback novel.
81% of customers already believe that the information they get at stations is good so the focus for improving the customer experience is clearly on the information provided during journeys – improving the way that delays are handled by keeping the passenger informed.
Over the next few weeks I will be adding additional blogs with some of my own ideas on how this can be achieved, using data from organisations such as Transport Focus. Please leave a comment here if you have any thoughts or ideas on how you think the passenger experience can be improved on rail journeys in the UK.
You can get in touch with me via my LinkedIn profile here.
Photo by Davide D’Amico licensed under Creative Commons. Graphic from Transport Focus NRPS Report, June 2015.