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Turning a train journey in to a pleasant experience

Posted: 12 April 2018 | | No comments yet

In order to attract more passengers onto trains, we must ensure the highest quality journey experience. To provide the best service possible, Netherlands Railways (NS) has committed to placing the customer at the very heart of its mission statement and developed a measuring instrument that enhances the complete train journey experience. Mark van Hagen, Principal Consultant for Customer Experience at NS, discusses this instrument and illustrates its use in a case study.

SEVERAL studies focused on customer needs make it clear that passengers have a steady hierarchy of quality needs. To communicate this to various industry professionals, NS developed an illustrative reference – the ‘Pyramid of Customer Needs’, displayed in Figure 1. The needs that relate to the core business of a train journey are moving and those qualities are shown in the bottom section of the pyramid (safety, reliability, speed and ease). Because being ‘in motion’ is the core business of a train journey, these qualities are known as dissatisfiers; they must be at an acceptable level and service failures will lead to low scores, while an excellent performance leads to, surprisingly, only moderate scores.

When we look at an overall journey, a large proportion of time consists of waiting: Waiting at a station for the train to arrive and waiting on the train until the destination is reached. Waiting passengers are free to use their time in their own way. For Train Operating Companies (TOCs) this presents an opportunity to make passengers happy by creating a comfortable environment; comfortable seats and an appealing ambience. These qualities (comfort and experience) are known as satisfiers. When the elements that make up the satisfiers are performed well, passengers will give high ratings. When satisfiers are performed poorly, you may be surprised to learn that passengers do not actually give low ratings1,2. Based on customer needs, NS has designed a measuring instrument, known as the Train Experience Monitor (TEM), whereby customers score all the relevant quality aspects of a train journey to show how important these factors are to them3,4.

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