Helping a major train operator to communicate better during disruption

How could our client enhance the customer service experience, even when communicating travel disruption to passengers?

The challenge

Our client needed a clearer strategy for communicating with train travellers during both planned service disruptions (engineering works) and unplanned disturbances (signal failures, accidents). To shape that strategy, we designed research that explored the impact of disruption on real people’s lives, and understood in new depth the way passengers felt about the train operator’s handling of it.

Our solution

We conducted the research in two stages. We began by creating a digital forum and recruiting a range of rail service users to participate, building from the online conversation an understanding of how train travel fits into peoples’ lives. Next, we carried out online focus groups to discuss experiences of disruption, communication about it, how disruption feels at an emotional level, and what passengers do in response to disruptions. Our findings fed into a second stage: quantitative research to measure responses to a range of proposed messages, as well as channels including in-station, online and app based comms.

The outcome

We provided practical tools and clear actions to take in implementing a communication strategy. Rooting these in a detailed understanding of disruption’s effects and implication has allowed the client to communicate service issues in a way that actually enhances customer service and wider brand perceptions.

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