The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail looks to not only be the pathway out of COVID but the route to a vastly different future for train operating companies (TOCs). Rightly so, a coherent and quality customer experience continues to be at the centre of all plans with new incentives and penalties for service quality performance likely to be written into the national rail and passenger service contracts. TOCs are sure to be looking for solutions.
If TOCs want to be cost effective and avoid costly fines, they will need to level up their service quality regime on trains and at stations. Fast.
How does a TOCs service quality delivery impact on customer perception of the journey experience they receive? A mismatch between what customers expect and what they actually experience is bound to have a negative impact on their perceptions and trust in the operator…
Take a typical customer who is weary of using rail following the Covid 19 messaging about infection risk when using public transport but has been told trains have a rigorous cleaning regime to ensure they are Covid secure. What impact will there be on that customers perception when they are faced with a cracked tabletop throughout their journey, which has dirt traps with visible soiling? Does that say to the customer that the train has been rigorously cleaned?
Another example being etching and graffiti that is visible to customers throughout the journey that suggests anti-social behaviour is likely. Does this communicate to customers that rail is not a safe and welcoming environment for them? What does this say about the effectiveness of visible staff and CCTV in ensuring a safe and secure travel environment?
In January 2021, Diamond Rail Services launched their Front of House service, designed to fill the gap between train presentation and maintenance and complete tasks that fell through the established process net, such as paint, graffiti and etching repairs, seat cover changes and general smaller wear and tear issues which impact on train interior service quality, but are not always easy to resolve during normal maintenance schedules. With the Williams-Shapps plan announcement, Diamond Rail Services have further reacted and evolved this service to include auditing and reporting services and to include stations and customer experience too. This creates a really clean cycle and complete turnkey solution for service quality.
Diamond Rail Services are collaborating with mpro5 to maximise the opportunities to transition to a fully digital service quality management system. They have already proven their system at several TOC’s with their user friendly and easy to navigate app and this would be used by our auditors to complete service quality inspections. In addition, this app-based solution would allow the vast number of data points collected to feed into a structured rectification and long-term asset management program. The dashboard and outputs for rectifications and stakeholders is extremely engaging, user friendly and when used correctly, can bring multiple benefits to the train operator and their customers.
Diamond Front of House offers TOCs the opportunity to enhance processes by bringing this data to a single point of focus and enable the implementation of measurable improvements to overall service quality delivery. Apply this approach across a TOC, and suddenly service quality is totally taken care of for.
The service is completely customisable working alongside current internal processes to fill any gaps or replacing these with a brand-new dedicated set of processes, recognising that lines of route and geographical locations can have different operational requirements and will differ on service quality performance. Diamond Rail Services would use the service quality data to then build the initial Front of House scope of work, and then review this in a data driven manner throughout the life of the service.
This way of working is already becoming reality in the rail sector. Several train companies are already a long way down the track towards connecting their departments and delivering a clean, safe, and passenger-focussed customer experience. Is your train company ready for the new developments? Or does your service quality regime still need work?
Business Development Manager
Diamond Rail services