Simon Pont, CEO at ECR Retail Systems explains how ticketing innovation can delight customers and improve transport performance
Transport operators are facing challenging times as they strive to improve profitability, deliver a positive customer experience and address legislative challenges. Beyond filling seats, operators need to drive ancillary revenues through new service offerings, and given this, the customer experience becomes a point of difference.
Personalisation is key, and the effective use of data allows transport operators to form a holistic customer view across the entire sales lifecycle. Progressive rail passengers have high expectations of easy and efficient purchasing, both before and during their journey. Quality and choice of food and beverage, onboard entertainment, Wi-Fi, travel updates and automated refunds, are fast becoming part of the expected customer experience.
An increasing number of transport companies are using customer data to enable more effective decision-making. This enhanced level of business intelligence can facilitate new opportunities and improve business growth. Forward-thinking rail companies appreciate that implementing the latest onboard technologies will improve passenger satisfaction, as well as growing new revenue streams for operators. Secure and convenient onboard payment services are becoming commonplace, and access to sophisticated customer insights means new opportunities for expanding retail sales.
The importance of smart transport ticketing
For rail and mass transit operators, smart ticketing fits into this trend by enabling an improved customer experience. Customers want “frictionless travel”, and a “frictionless experience”, whereas current ticketing systems can discourage people from taking public transport.
The equipment and infrastructure needed to manage and deliver paper-based tickets, such as ticket printers, is expensive to implement and maintain.
In addition, this old way of delivering paper tickets is subject to fraud and lost revenue. It can be challenging and costly to effectively view and manage the usage of paper tickets in a dynamic real-time environment. The legacy of paper-based ticking approach restricts innovation and prevents the ability to deliver valuable additional services, such as travel delay updates or destination attraction ticketing, which are just two areas that customers have come to expect.
Innovative mobile-based ticketing systems offer numerous advantages, especially for smaller transport operators, and can be relatively easy to implement. A tried and tested ticketing system, used with one of our larger transport operators, promises to simplify the purchase process, improve the customer experience and reduce cost. The data held by these state-of-the-art ticketing systems can help create a more personalised passenger experience, who can save and re-use their itineraries. Transport operators can use this data to optimise travel schedules, reduce unprofitable routes and to appropriately cross-sell to their customers.
Smart ticketing is about improving the passenger and business travel experience, by using innovative technology to make journeys easier, quicker and cheaper. It’s about helping operators to be more intelligent and allowing them to be transformative.
The growth of the next generation of mobile point of sale: mPOS (mobile point-of-sale technology)
There is no aspect of modern travel, whether, for passengers or transport operators, that is not affected by technology, and many operators are embracing the opportunity. Advanced ticketing systems are one such area. It promises to enable operators to develop incremental revenue by matching the increasing demand from customers for an overall better travelling experience by marketing and selling additional, and more personalised value-add services.
With the wide choice that customers now have of paying for and carrying tickets, there are opportunities across the customer journey, to market and sell ancillary goods and services. Rail companies can track the points at which they can offer personalised goods and services such as refreshments, seat upgrades, as well as insurance and destination attraction tickets.
Smarter transport ticketing can improve the efficiency of a person’s journey, as well as the overall experience. The technology is scalable and adaptable to all business sizes, and having ITSO accreditation, which we at ECR uniquely possess, will enable local authority operators to conform to ITSO standards.
Capturing relevant information, such as passenger needs and preferences across the entire customer journey is important to support marketing and sales campaigns, and will help deliver better customer service, which will improve customer loyalty and revenues. The effective use of big data analytics, linked to smart ticketing mobile apps, for example, can be used to predict customer-specific purchase behaviour, allowing businesses to offer customers greater personalisation and encourage them to spend more.
At ECR, we have worked with a client that needed a system to handle mobile transactions, including ticketing, and which was intuitive enough for staff to use with minimal training and which enabled fast transaction speeds. The company can now log retail transactions on the system, where all sales, stock, tender and operator information is then sent back to the head office, which enables greater strategic insight into customer trends and preferences.
As the UK government is now accelerating the abolition of paper tickets across the UK rail network, ITSO accredited, smart ticketing will become the standard, and rail and mass transit operators need to up-to-date systems to ensure that passengers can effectively use mobile technology and smartcards to travel across most of the network by the end of 2019.
Across all transport operators, using technologies such as innovative MPOS systems to drive ticketing, linked to smart back-office analytics capabilities improves the passenger and staff experience, and builds customer loyalty, while at the same time increasing profitability. This is a clear win-win for both passengers and transport operators, so embracing change and new technology is key.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
ECR Retail Systems
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