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How can we connect payment, movement and customer data to create bespoke and transformed customer experiences?

Posted: 28 October 2021 | | No comments yet

Encouraging more people to use public transport for future sustainability is essential, and finding a way to connect payment, movement and customer data and Mobility-as-a-Service will help to create curated customer experiences. Martin Howell, Transport Markets Director – UK & Ireland at Worldline UK, outlines how this could be tackled and why it is important to weave the areas together.

How can we connect data to create bespoke customer experiences?

The use of connected and tracked data is nothing new – particularly in the fields of transport and mobility – but how to use it in ways that increasingly reflect corporate responsibility has risen in importance in recent years. Collecting data should help transport operators and providers to develop experiences that are more in tune with the needs of customers. Linking the three key fields of payment, movement and customer data can provide excellent insight, but retaining a level of responsibility and data privacy is critical if the data’s potential benefits are to be realised.

Linking the three key fields of payment, movement and customer data can provide excellent insight, but retaining a level of responsibility and data privacy is critical if the data’s potential benefits are to be realised”

Customers are increasingly aware of the ways in which their data can be tracked, used and manipulated by unscrupulous apps and software providers. The recent iOS 14.5 update, which allowed users to opt out of in-app data tracking for the first time, has shown that people want control of their data. Transport operators, for whom collecting real time data is essential for developing apps that better meet the needs of customers, must demonstrate true value to their customers in return for data which has been knowingly surrendered.

The curated customer experience 

People no longer make buying decisions purely based on price or quality. The customer experience (or even the perceived experience) is a much higher driving factor in buying decisions now. When it comes to transport, customers are just as discerning as they would be with any other product or service, and potentially even more so, given the necessary nature of travel.

Customers want their journeys to be as easy, time efficient and comfortable as possible. Everyone can benefit to some extent from services using anonymised general datasets – the true value for the customer experience comes from understanding personal travel intentions, patterns and preferences. Demonstrate how that can transform the travel experience, and you begin to make a real difference. But that will always rely on absolute trust from the customer that their data will not be abused, exploited or sold on.

What might this mean, in practice, and where is it happening already?

  • Payment and multimodal journey information and payment can be made seamless – this is a business issue, not a technical challenge
  • Customer preference is automatically taken into account when offering journey choices
  • Disruption can be communicated because patterns are known, and issues can be predicted for regular travellers
  • Services can be planned according to demand, which will be understood better than ever before.

The key to all of this is that customers understand – and trust – that, by allowing more of their data to be recorded and analysed, they can improve their own transport experiences and can take greater advantage of the services available. It is possible to curate almost entirely tailored customer journeys, from starting point to final destination.

The key to all of this is that customers understand – and trust – that, by allowing more of their data to be recorded and analysed, they can improve their own transport experiences and can take greater advantage of the services available”

Intelligent use of data and allowing customers to specify and adjust what is important to them (such as speed, environmental responsibility, comfort, space or economy) would enable operators to offer options that meet those requirements. Other factors such as the estimated carbon or long-term costs saved by taking public transport versus car journeys would be a good way of illustrating the benefits of adapting travel habits.

While encouraging and even incentivising customers to share more of their movement and payment data is a great bonus to travel operators, it must be approached cautiously. To ensure that privacy is being respected, no third-party operators should have access, customers should be able to see the benefits of sharing immediately, and apps or software must fairly and freely manage the data given to them.

Apps also need to be able to deliver on their promises. Principally, the ‘Time Promise’ of getting a customer to their desired destination exactly on time, but also in the other details that make for a positive customer experience – such as the crowdedness of carriages on trains.    

Real time responsiveness

Using real time data, and analysing it intelligently over time, will improve customer experiences of travel by helping to deliver a reliable, fast service. As travel is a necessity – and not a luxury – of modern lifestyles, issues with travel tend to be felt painfully and expressed quickly by customers. A delayed train home means missing bedtime with family; an overcrowded bus means that a person with accessibility difficulties is unable to use the allocated space; or improperly used e-scooters end up injuring unwary pedestrians. Real time data that can quickly address issues, or more effectively manage and monitor use of data, can help to resolve these issues.

Using real time data, and analysing it intelligently over time, will improve customer experiences of travel by helping to deliver a reliable, fast service”

As commuting habits have changed over the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic, public transport services have been hit hard. While bus services in most of the country have returned to mostly normal levels of use, trains are still lagging behind. Limited use of payment and movement data have helped in people making the safest and most appropriate choices for their travel needs during this time of restrictions. Incentives have also been implemented by many travel operators to encourage people back onto services – again, these have been derived from a somewhat limited understanding of what customers need from their transport now, such as the introduction of flexible season tickets for rail. A laudable and welcome initiative, but hardly revolutionary – we can do better.

Responsible data and operators

An established brand with a heritage in transport operations and an impeccable track record of responsible data management, including handling billions of payments on a daily basis, is the ideal partner for any transport operator looking to create data-driven customer experiences. Worldline, as a global leader in digital payment and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), are working closely with many national and international transport authorities and operators to help them to create better customer experiences on their networks.

By better understanding the needs of customers through responsible data collection, analysis and usage, we can revolutionise travel experiences for millions of people”

By better understanding the needs of customers through responsible data collection, analysis and usage, we can revolutionise travel experiences for millions of people. All of this is do-able today, but has not happened for a number of reasons – chief among which is that the entire transport industry has more often than not been characterised by silos, where opportunities to co-operate (and, in this instance, share data for the wider good) have been constrained by commercial interests and short-sightedness. 

We now have, with the change in the structure of the railways, a chance to change that for the future. This will require government intervention and industry willingness – the Rail Data Marketplace is a fantastic start, but it is only a start. Transport and, in particular, public transport is a necessity of modern life.

To get people out of private, single occupancy cars and onto environmentally responsible shared and public transport, there must be an organised, deliberate effort on the part of transport operators, payment solution providers and local authorities to work together. Only this way can we realise the untapped potential of public transport – with a revolutionised rail network at its core – to enable true social mobility, provide a foundation for environmental change and bring economic benefits to the entire country. We have the data available, we have the expertise and we have the opportunity – but will we do it?

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