On the 1st November, the TVE Travel Team had the pleasure of attending the MRS Conference on Travel, Transport and Mobility. To us, it all came down to the future of amazing customer journeys. From understanding the customer experience using new technologies, innovating along the journey to overcome barriers, and making an amazing journey accessible to all, here are some of our favourite take-outs from the day.

Seeing is believing: VR to revolutionise P&O Ferries’ customer experience

P&O Ferries have recently immersed themselves in the enigmatic world of VR to better understand the P&O Ferry onboard experience, and customers’ personal values when onboard. It is a well-known fact that vision is our most dominant sense and so VR offered P&O rich and unique insights into how customers interact with and use the ferry as they cross the channel. The initial hypothesis was that a certain category of person uses the ferry, however the VR research revealed that in fact a a cross-section of the population enjoy riding the waves, with only a slight skew towards older, more affluent individuals. Highlighting key pain points such as too many kids in adult areas, the agenda and must win battles for P&O Ferries quickly became clear.

The research also pointed to some heavy business decisions: busy is not acceptable on ferries, despite the business case for doing so. Customers, it transpired, do not chose to board the ferry for the sake of convenience or speed – rather they do so for the pleasure and comfort of being at sea. For this reason, packing the ferry to maximum capacity was found to damage the atmosphere and negatively impact ticket sales in the long term. By connecting with what customers experience and what they love about travelling with the brand, P&O Ferries have the power to deliver an even better experience.

How well do you understand what your customers love about travelling with you, and what are you doing to make the most of their customer experiences?

Golden Ticket: making the transition from car to train

The challenge facing the new LNER business is how to get customers out of their cars and on to the train. At present there are a series of barriers that prevent the train from entering customers’ consideration set, including awareness and understanding of train travel, and ‘end-to-end’ issues such as traveling to the station and traveling to one’s destination at the other end. However, the key barrier LNER are currently prioritising is the multifaceted issue of affordability. We all know what a pain point the price of train travel is – you have to pay considerably more for flexibility and to travel at convenient times of day. But with ticket prices being a difficult to control element of the experience, LNER need to innovate and alleviate the ‘pain’ in other ways.

So how can LNER compete with plane and car travel and break down the affordability barrier of the train? Quantitative and qualitative research revealed that the key is to effectively convey value above the line and ensure customers thoroughly understand the impact of value adds. More specifically, it was found that value grounded in experience is the most powerful means of solidifying behaviour change and encouraging people to transition from car to train travel. Tangible value-adds that maximise customers’ time and reward loyalty – such as free Wifi and free coffee after 5 journeys – were also winners, as was reducing the variability in pricing per route by establishing a higher base price.

By understanding where value can be added to the customer experience, LNER have a strategy to overcome key barriers that are more difficult to control.

What are the moments that matter in your customers’ experience where you could be making a value-adding difference? What parallel barriers could this help you overcome?

Making the journey work for everyone: Tackling sensitive and hidden issues on the London Underground

The Tube has a unique culture. The complete lack of conversation, the act of keeping to oneself and the determination to avoid all eye contact on the one hand reduces stress and keeps a degree or order; but on the other hand creates a culture where people are reluctant to help one another. The question TfL is asking is how can they encourage customers to care about or act on ‘hidden’ or ‘sensitive’ issues that are present on the Tube? And is it possible to get customers to think outside the customer bubble without bursting it?

TfL looked into two of its biggest concerns in this area: the success and impact of the ‘Please offer me a seat’ badge campaign and the effectiveness of bystander intervention in suicide cases.

The badges trial found that customers were 6 times more likely to get a seat when they were wearing a badge, and 86% of customers said they felt more confident travelling when adorning a badge. There were also reported reductions in customer self-consciousness and nervousness as the trial progressed. Small actions from TfL can position them as an ally and good citizen, while more importantly infinitely improving the experience of badge-wearers.

The bystander trial revealed that the biggest obstacle to human intervention on the Tube was fear: even when people recognised someone who was potentially suicidal, they found themselves paralysed by fear and unable to say or do anything that might prevent a tragedy. In answer to these findings, TfL are making efforts to develop a more human culture on the Tube, tweaking the environment in ways to encourage passengers to be kind and to support one another. It is still early days, but thus far there has been a 12% reduction in suicide attempts and a 10% reduction in suicides on the London Underground since the start of the trial. TfL is taking actions to prevent one of the UK’s largest concerns, and playing its part in making our underground a more human place.

Is there any way your brand can better accommodate those with physical and hidden disabilities, so that a brilliant customer journey is accessible for all?

Categories: Travel & Leisure

BY ENGINEER Amber Williams

amber.williams@thevalueengineers.com