Utilize CX for Mobility and Public Transportation

March 21, 2019

In the mobility and public transport sector, delivering efficient and profitable customer experience presents its own set of challenges. There are many important elements to consider in the passenger experience, from being able to plan trips (often intermodal) in advance to verifying the availability of a service in real-time, or using adapted transportation if a person’s physical condition requires it. This means that at every stage of the traveller’s journey, organizations have to invest whole-heartedly in the experience to understand and exceed the expectations of a clientele that has many requirements. Here’s a more in-depth look at this rapidly-evolving industry.

What’s the Underlying Rationale for Moving toward a CX Culture in the Mobility Sector?

As urban and interurban transportation options become increasingly more diversified, carriers have no choice but to focus on something other than their product if they want to stand out in a highly competitive market. While it is true that a traveller’s main purpose is to get from point A to point B, the quality of the journey and the experience play a larger role than the actual mode of transport. Yes, someone can get to the city centre using an Uber, the subway, a Bixi, and soon enough the REM, but what explains why a person chooses one option over another? Price-quality ratio is certainly an important factor in the decision-making process, yet when it comes to quality, a positive experience can’t be overlooked. Organizations have to take the time to consider the emotional side of a user’s experience and accurately measure their needs in order to build relevant and competitive experiences.

There is a distinction that needs to be made here. Public transportation often involves using two or more modes of transport. While these sectors regularly reflect on making their offer competitive, in some cases, competitors can be seen as strategic partners, complementing each other and taking care of an additional part of the passenger’s journey. Knowing this is critical because carriers have to identify their differences to earn the trust of the public, but also have to collaborate so they can supplement the traveller’s larger journey. This means achieving perfect harmony, where each stakeholder is competing to optimize their slice of the cake and share of wallet.

Regardless of the number of carriers involved in the traveller’s journey, meeting a consumer’s basic expectations is fundamental. Ultimately, these expectations can be summarized in four central pillars:

  • Reliability of service
  • Speed of service
  • Punctuality of service
  • Accessibility of real-time information

A diverse clientele with multiple needs

How do we go about understanding the expectations of these many users when the entire population is likely to use our services? While it may be true that the task is intimidating, the CX approach makes it possible to develop customer intelligence through research, monitoring and the use of front-end staff. Increasingly, stakeholders in this sector are getting to know their customers better and are greatly improving the services they offer as a result.

Two interesting examples:

  • The STM capitalizes on a panel made up of 23,000 customers (my voice, my STM) that can be surveyed in a spontaneous or planned way, with the goal of gauging how customers feel about their experiences and gathering relevant feedback quickly.
  • In Europe, in 2007, the Keolis Group created Keoscopie, a mobile observatory that could analyze socio-demographic changes and their effects on mobility. In 2015, driven by evolving digital technology, and in partnership with Netexplo, the company also launched the Digital Mobility Observatory. Their goal was to explore mobility as it will exist in the future, something that is inevitably linked to the evolution of digital technology.

All of this, so they could collect essential data and adapt services to meet the needs and expectations of their customers. A process that leads to being able to offer the best experience possible.

By analyzing this data, a company can map a customer journey and build the existing and desired routes for each of the archetypes. By mixing qualitative and quantitative data, organizations gain a detailed understanding of their customer segmentation and can implement strategies that are better suited to their precious customers. Strictly from a relationship marketing point of view, you can move from predictive and prescriptive approaches by carefully implanting yourself into the customer path. Pricing strategies can also be adapted depending on the customers, their needs and the time of day. While some carriers – especially long-distance ones – will monetize value-added experiences (business vs. economy), other carriers will standardize the experience, but offer preferential rates to certain segments (e.g. student passes).

Cultivating customer experience in sustainable mobility using the intangible

Depending on the kind of service offered, many carriers will use sustainable mobility to strengthen their standing with the population. Citizens are placing more and more importance on ecological transportation, reinforcing the importance of sustainable mobility. Because the environment is a topic that is on everyone’s minds these days, you can’t go wrong with highlighting the advantages of public transportation and the use of green energy. This clear decision to contribute to the collective well-being and of taking concrete action towards a better future is highly desirable from a business standpoint. In this way, things that seem intangible can still have an effect on the feelings of users and can help improve their overall experiences. Of course, citizens will only support the collective benefits of something if their individual experiences are not put into question (see basic consumer expectations listed above).

In conclusion, with the advent of smart cities and the use of technology as a means of improving the quality of life of the citizens, carriers will have more and more food for thought. It’s important to note that one of the nine key areas of focus for the Laboratoire d’Innovation Urbaine de Montréal (LIUM), ex-Bureau de la Ville Intelligente et Numérique de Montréal (BVIN), is to enhance and optimize travel. The democratization of open-source data, technological advances and the need to re-examine how we consume and get around are factors that are paving the way for the experiences of tomorrow.

Cowritten by François Bellavance
Director, Consulting-Services
Director, Consulting Services