By John Clarfelt
All too often we focus on the art of the possible, but not how we are best going to make use of the technology when delivered.
So, how can we apply this rationale to current and future technologies in order to drive customer satisfaction and improve the customer journey?
The first thing we should question is ‘who is the customer’? A customer for Ticketer is both the operator and the passenger.
Passenger and operator needs are intertwined, and technology for each should be commercially viable, transparent and should simplify the passenger experience. While there are countless ways to improve the passenger journey, the best technologies are often those that are invisible to the customer.
For the operator it is a requirement for immediate visibility of operations – we should not forget, information is key, leading to focussed, better value services – running on time and with optional additions such as DRT. Operator satisfaction ultimately flows through to the passenger in terms of buses running on time, or dare I say it – cheaper fares!
And there’s a massive opportunity now – Millennials and post-Millennials are most likely to use non-car transport (60% and 69% respectively, vs 50% average)
So, what can technology deliver now and into the future?
It can simplify travel for the passenger – by passengers knowing fares and routes in advance and being able to pay with multiple methods such as contactless, mTicketing, and tap on / tap off.
It already improves the passenger experience – by putting information in the hands of the passenger. With schedule data, passengers can be advised of any delays to journeys due to accidents or congestion. Predictions are based on current running times which can be displayed at bus stop displays and passenger apps.
And by warning the driver at bus stops when it is too early to leave – preventing ‘early running’ which is arguably the biggest, avoidable, bugbear for passengers.
It delivers increased operational efficiency for the Transport Provider – by knowing how many passengers have tapped in and out there is awareness of loading and, with that knowledge, passengers can be advised if the next bus is half empty or rammed. By equalising passengers, passenger comfort increases, and boarding times flatten out.
It can improve revenue for the Operator – by adding passengers and reducing the potential for fraud.
And it can cut pollution through enhanced operational efficiency – by better use of buses per passenger.
It is the integration of multiple technologies, in themselves perhaps only addressing a subset of the factors above, that is required for the greatest increase in customer satisfaction. Multiple technologies operating in isolation are not the answer
No, it’s not a pipedream. More than 90% of the technology already exists, and we, or others, will deliver the balance, and more, over the coming year. The bus industry is already benefitting from technology on a par, or better, with any available to any of the competing transport modes.