Edmund Caldecott, chief executive of Whoosh, says providing real-time relevant updates through technology provides the reassurance that travellers demand when there is disruption
Guest Post: A little can go a long way to appease angry customers when it's not your fault
Adverse weather conditions, onboard emergencies, line trespassers; there’s a wealth of reasons service might be disrupted that are completely beyond anyone’s control.
But for passengers, the frustration remains. As a consumer, needing to get from A to B can be fraught with anxiety and frustration when things don’t go to plan.
As the business customers have paid to transport them to their destination, Train Operating Companies (TOCs) will always get the brunt of that frustration, regardless of the cause of the delays.
Such frustration can have a negative long-term impact on the consumer relationship with the rail company.
Rightly or wrongly, delay repay is perceived by many consumers as long-winded and if the journey is short – regardless of its importance – the refund value can be viewed as not worth the time and hassle.
So, when confronted with unforeseen disruptions, how can TOCs mitigate the bitter taste that might be left in consumer mouths?
Maintaining good favour with customers when there has been an interruption in the service can be a tricky one. But first and foremost, easing the anxiety as much as possible is key.
Now, maybe more than any other time in our history, our society, our schools, our commutes and our lives are riddled with anxiety. Our heart rates are too high.
We worry about everything. This feeling is common to nearly all of us. If we could feel less worried that would be a good thing. And this is what has driven every one of my business ideas.
Much of the anxiety caused by a travel disruption will come from the ‘not knowing’.
When standing on a station platform, or sitting in a stationary train, the frustration builds from being in a situation not only out of our control, but from having no information on what is happening and when there might be a solution or update.
Relief comes when we can access that information, as it happens. Real-time updates on the situation and solution mean that we feel a little more in control, and that we can evaluate and decide to stick it out as originally planned (if later than anticipated) or make alternative arrangements.
A refund in the place of a service the paying customer doesn’t receive is the minimum they should expect.
And some extra compensation doesn’t need to break the bank. A small olive branch can reach further than you may think.
Simple voucher codes work fantastically well in our Real-Time Journey Dashboard, and they’re easy to set up and redeem. It’s a win-win.
Quite simply, in situations of anxiety and frustration, a little can go a long way. Giving accurate and timely updates, and compensating with small gestures when things don’t go according to plan, can have an incredibly positive impact.
This is where quality customer service really comes into its own. When things go wrong, but customers can see that effort is going into making it right again, the overall consumer relationship impact can actually be a positive one.
Ultimately, consumers just want to know that you care enough to give a good experience of your brand.
This is where technology comes to the fore. Keeping customers updated through tannoy or display board announcements can be hit and miss, and issues with announcements are one of the most common customer issues whilst travelling.
Customers want easy access to the information they require but want to avoid having to download apps, or use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger in order to receive these updates.
The Whoosh Real-Time Journey Dashboard that can be accessed via QR codes, solves these common customer issues and delivers on what travellers want during their journey.
Seamlessly delivering real-time updates bespoke to each journey direct to customers’ smartphones, the platform eliminates reliance on announcements, crashing apps or out-of-date info – everything that causes rail customers to grumble.
The stats show that customers most want access to live train running info; station departure boards; goodwill gestures for service disruption; and onward travel departure details – the Real-Time Journey Dashboard reliably and easily provides this much-needed information, and more.
It’s all about reassurance. Let people know what’s happening, that someone cares and is trying to help, and suddenly there is order, calm, and an anxiety free travel experience.