By Anna Holness – Managing Partner, Passenger Services, Telefónica UK

The passenger experience doesn’t start when you step onto a train. It starts when the customer makes the decision to take the train over other forms of transport. To be able to make this decision an informed one, they need access to as much information as possible. They will research the route, compare the options and buy a ticket. Infrequent or new travellers need to be targeted just as carefully as your frequent ones – after all they can be persuaded into becoming a frequent customer if you deliver an excellent experience.

Independent passenger watchdog Passenger Focus recently conducted a series of focus groups on passenger experience. It became clear that access to relevant and up-to-date information was one of the most highly valued tools transport providers can offer. Although there isn’t a comprehensive tool that allows passengers to easily compare rail pricing across providers, instant access to apps or ticketing websites, passengers can and will do the research themselves. Results from the Passenger Focus whitepaper found that half of surveyed passengers used websites to plan their journey. That means it is still essential to have informed members of staff – connected to live data – on hand to assist customers that choose to purchase their ticket at the station.

What’s more, considering there are also many types of tickets, we need to make sure the distinctions are clear and passengers are not caught out. According to the research, those with a good understanding of ticket restrictions were also confident they had received the best price for their trip. It is clear that to create happy and loyal customers we need to make sure processes and pricing are transparent to instil trust and loyalty.

The more informed passengers are, the more confident they will be. During delays and disruption everyone knows that passengers want information on problems and solutions yet it is not always instantly provided. 33% of passengers use apps for information on delays, with live information access becoming an increasingly standard expectation of passengers. Transport providers need to ensure they keep up with this demand because if you aren’t providing customers with what they want and need to know, someone else could be.

To keep up to date with the latest news and opinion for Passenger Services follow me on Twitter @Anna_elh or tweet using the hashtag #O2passenger. Also visit our website to find out more about how O2 is helping transport and travel companies reduce costs, improve communications and provide better passenger experiences.

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