More than 10 million people cross the Channel every year on Eurostar trains. Connecting London with major tourist and business destinations in France and Belgium, Eurostar’s 27 high-speed trains offer a fast, convenient, and environmentally-friendly alternative to flying.
Providing a good travel experience isn’t enough for Simon Shaw, who heads up the company’s Customer Contact Strategy. He wants Eurostar to provide customers with an outstanding travel experience. “We’re setting the standard for both international train travel and customer service,” said Shaw. “We want to make things delightfully easy for people; the more effort customers have to put in, the less satisfying the experience.”
Being able to engage with customers before, during, and after their journey is essential. “People don't just want to buy a train ticket; they want advice on booking hotels, claiming compensation, and earning loyalty points,” explained Shaw.
To stay connected to its customers, Eurostar is taking an omni-channel approach that encompasses web chat, online apps, and self-service knowledge. “With web chat, we can respond to customers in less than 10 seconds, compared to 1.5 minutes on the phone. A faster response means a happier customer,” said Shaw.
Providing a fast response to queries is particularly important when customers’ travel plans have been disrupted. In October 2015, Eurostar launched a first for the travel industry: an app that enables customers to request their compensation in just four clicks. “Customers love it! There were some great Tweets on go-live day,” said Shaw. “All eligible customers can now receive their compensation in less than 24 hours – they used to have to wait between four and six weeks.”
As a result, Eurostar’s contact centre agents only have to cope with disruption-related queries on the day, rather than dealing with the fallout for the next three months, which makes their job much more enjoyable. “Before the app, around 25% of contact centre calls were about compensation, now it’s less than 5%,” added Shaw.
Built on Salesforce App Cloud, the new app hasn’t just saved time; it’s saved money. With more detailed information on customer journeys, the compensation team can now issue tailored e-vouchers that reflect the level of disruption experienced. This has reduced Eurostar’s compensation liability by up to £5 million a year.
The company has also developed a second app on App Cloud and Force.com to help passengers make alternative arrangements when travel is disrupted. “With free WiFi available on all our new trains, customers can use the app to plan ahead rather than waiting to be assigned a hotel or taxi when they arrive at their destination,” explained Shaw. “By helping customers to help themselves we can ensure they’re in the know and in control.”
As of spring 2017, Eurostar’s customers will also be able to self-serve using an online resource powered by Service Cloud Knowledge. The knowledge bank, which is already available to staff, contains more than 250 articles on common queries, such as travelling with pets and booking international connections.
Every customer interaction on the apps — and other channels — is captured in personal customer profiles in Service Cloud. “Our office-based staff already have a 360-degree view of the customer; we’re now extending this to our teams based at stations and on trains,” said Shaw.
As customer relationships develop, preferences can be added to the profiles, which helps the contact centre team sell additional services, such as hotel accommodation, car hire, and insurance. Taking a more centralised approach has already helped Eurostar reduce the length of some calls with its Frequent Travellers by 70%.
Since deploying Service Cloud in 2014, Eurostar has been able to retire at least eight of the systems previously used by its contact centre, with 80% of customer queries now handled through the solution.
Eventually all customer-facing staff, including business lounge hosts and train managers, will be able to view every customer detail from their iPads and other mobile devices. “Our customer-facing teams will be able to see if a passenger has experienced any disruption, and address any remaining concerns,” added Shaw.
Thanks to its detailed customer profiles, Shaw’s team can now send out personalised emails using Marketing Cloud about service updates. “We used to send a mass email to up to 25,000 people,” said Shaw. “Now we can tailor content based on individual customer journeys and circumstances,” explained Shaw. “People sitting next to each other might receive a completely different email, with bespoke advice for their particular situation and links to appropriate self-service tools.”
The last piece of Eurostar’s omni-channel strategy is social. With more customers engaging via Twitter and Facebook, Shaw’s team is now using Marketing Cloud to not only follow conversations but also join them. “Eventually, we want to empower train managers to respond directly to passengers on their service via social media,” said Shaw. “We want customers to know that we’re listening to them and striving to make their journey as seamless as possible.”
By continuing to evolve how and when it engages with customers, Eurostar will be able to achieve its ‘delightfully easy’ mission. “We are not in the business of managing IT, we’re in the business of giving customers a great travel experience. And Salesforce helps us deliver just that,” said Shaw.