International Experts Agree: The Future of Transit is More Personalized and Comfortable
Time is a finite resource. We are in an era where the pace of change is increasing more and more rapidly, and many of us are adapting to that change by trying to fit more into our day—more work, more fun, more time with our loved ones. As we push ourselves to accomplish more, we also have higher expectations for every part of our life, from the quality of the food we eat to the phones we use and the way we travel. We want the services we pay for to be catered to us the way Netflix personalizes our film recommendations based on our preferences. Companies are working to meet our expectations by enhancing our customer experience.
I work in the transit industry, and one of the unique features of transit is that people who use our services spend a significant amount of time with us. In fact, the average amount of time a Parisian spends using transit on a typical day is 96 minutes. Ninety-six minutes—over an hour- and-a-half spent waiting for a bus or train, traveling to work or school, perhaps running errands or meeting a friend for dinner, and then making the trip home. When you begin to think carefully about all of the steps in a single journey, you see how many opportunities we have to make those trips better in some small way. The ability to customize and personalize those trips to individual desires can help enhance people’s travel experiences.
“The average amount of time a Parisian spends using transit on a typical day is 96 minutes”
How can we enhance customer experience?
What does it mean to enhance the customer experience? How do we improve it? I heard key insights from Conduent Transportation CEO, Mick Slattery, during a panel about enhancing journey quality at the 2019 Global Cities Makers Forum in Paris. He joined Alain Krakovitch, CEO, Transilien of SNCF, Hiba Fares, Director of Client Experience at RATP and Yann Ricordel, Director of G7 (Europe’s leading taxi provider). Mick said, “Different travelers want different things. Some people want to get on a train and relax. Some people want the comfort of their own car. Some people would prefer to be driven in a taxi. And it depends on where they’re going and what they want to get out of a trip. Bring the travel providers together with the travelers and make sure the travelers can understand what experiences are available to them. How long will it take? When can I leave? How much will it cost? The more we can have that conversation together, the more I think it’ll be easier for travelers to solve their needs.”
When I think about what I want when I travel, I have two priorities: I want to know all of my options and choose what I want in the moment, and I want the trip to be easy. One of the reasons I came to work at Conduent is because we use digital platforms to help transit agencies and other partners provide both of those things. As a trusted digital interactions partner to 65 of the U.S. Fortune 100, we perform “mission critical” digital services that ensure the reliability and fluidity of our stakeholders’ services.
But as panelists at the Summit pointed out, personalization and comfort are equally important to travelers. Customer expectations in these areas are intensifying, as digital technology provides them with more choices and resources.
Our Mobility Companion Platform (MCP) provides an example of an offering that increases travel personalization: it integrates real-time information from metro and bus transit, as well as bike-share, parking, and even ferries to help travelers identify their best travel options at any given time.
Transit can be more personalized
One focus of the discussion was how digital technology, combined with passenger information, will allow us to better understand and even predict passengers’ needs, enabling us to increase personalization and comfort. Here Conduent’s heritage as a digital interactions company was cited as a resource that will permit it to assist its clients in pleasing customers. Our Mobility Companion Platform (MCP) provides an example of an offering that increases travel personalization: it integrates real-time information from metro and bus transit, as well as bike-share, parking, and even ferries to help travelers identify their best travel options at any given time. In 2017 we collaborated with one of our clients, Hauts-de-France Mobilités, on a solution they call “passpass.fr”, which provides real-time, inter-departmental, door-to-door trip planning to commuters from 19 transport authority districts.
Transit can also be more comfortable
As for comfort, Conduent has reached agreements with Paris, Rotterdam, Flanders and New Jersey to assist them in implementing new ticketing systems that will accept payment via bankcards or mobile devices. This will allow travelers to avoid waiting in line to buy tickets, and will contribute to the trend of combining as many travel-related services as possible – ticketing, trip planning, shopping – on one card or device. According to Hiba Fares, transportation firms such as RATP partner with service providers so that as full a range as possible of services can be provided in an integrated formula to travelers. This is particularly important to tourists, who face uncertainties in visiting an unfamiliar place, yet are seeking to relax and enjoy themselves. During my visit to France (from the United States) I often turned to my mobile phone for information to make my travel more efficient. I look forward to working with Conduent colleagues and clients to develop even more options, aggregated to form seamless services.