It’s interesting to see the shift industries make towards customer centric design. Every aspect of a user’s digital journey is being examined and optimized to provide the best possible experience. This movement has completely changed retail, the energy sector, banking and interestingly enough: transit. Suddenly, IT is more than a backbone enabling internal data exchange on bus schedules and paychecks: it’s become the ultimate way to add value for travelers. This phenomenon is called rider experience, and it’s taking transit to a whole new level. What has boosted this development and how can players in and outside the transit sector learn from it? I’ll tell you in this blog.
Rider experience explained
When we talk about improving rider experience, there are many aspects that need addressing, but in this article we are on about ways to offer transportation services that are safer, more reliable and better connected. Unlike the more traditional approach, so-called smart transit focuses on the individual rider and tries to get him or her from A to B in the fastest and most convenient way possible. This trend is fueled by three developments:
- Higher expectations for services
- Millennials have different transit behaviors
- IT is ready
Higher expectations for services
Helpful and smart apps are no longer a novelty or luxury: they’re the perfect way to communicate with customers and make their days better. This means that if a player in a certain industry starts deploying apps that serve a real need, all the others must follow in their footsteps if they want to stay in the lives of their customers. The same goes for the transit sector. As technology continues to provide even more personalization, and several transit players adapt to this trend, the average person is going to expect the same treatment wherever they go. Tomorrow’s successes will therefore be built around the rider’s experience and his perception of convenience.
Millennials have different transit behaviors
The urge to satisfy every need within mere seconds is often attributed to millennials, the generation that was born between 1980 and 2000. This need for speed comes from somewhere, though, as people in this age group are required to keep many balls in the air, such as work, study, social life, family, hobbies and appearance. True: they’re impatient and don’t like to be kept waiting, but they also don’t have time to wait for the bus, and they can’t afford getting stuck in traffic jams on their way to meetings. This is why they demand ways to stay up to date on bus arrivals in real time, so they can plan their journey on the go.
IT is ready
There’s another reason millennials (and people in general) demand better and more personalized services. Technological advancements have enabled the giants of this world to create the most amazing applications, showing the great public the endless possibilities and benefits of personalization. When customers hear about new technological marvels and the way they make their lives better, easier and more fun, they’ll automatically start wanting them. Moreover, IT is not only ready: it’s everywhere. Thanks to smartphones, today’s travelers are walking beacons of information on how to improve your service, meaning the input you need is there for the taking. Transit companies who leverage this data improve rider experience and are therefore the ones that will thrive in tomorrow’s transit market.
Improving rider experience is all about listening
Let’s have a look at the way successful transit agencies deploy their digital strategy. Transit organizations that are planning for tomorrow are all taking advantage of communication channels their customers are already using. They use smartphones and smart alerts to tailor make user friendly apps, providing customers with lots of useful features that add value to their rider experience. They keep travelers up to date on departures and arrivals in real time, but also on roadblocks and events in the city that might sabotage a smooth trip back home. And as commuters often use more than one form of transport during their commute, fellow transit providers are more and more partnering to provide a complete travel solution. This allows users to receive relevant information well ahead of time, and anticipate any potential problems. During the trip, cameras and sensors are being used to gather additional information about buses, trains, and occupancy levels. This is communicated with travelers’ phones, but also with all transit partners involved, so they can analyze the data and optimize their services in the future.
Making sense of transit data
Collecting data is just a start. The information transit agencies gather needs to be interpreted in a way that’s useful, then distributed back out through the communication channels to customers and partners. In order to achieve this in an automatic way you need an IT infrastructure and APIs capable of interpreting data, as well as integrating the data from other transit providers. This data can then be used to anticipate problems, communicate with customers in real time, but also help the transit provider to schedule maintenance.
What do you think is the biggest success factor of transit agencies? Let me know by leaving a comment!
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