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Tickets please! How National Express is benefiting from digitized customer processes

Local public transport is becoming digitized – so far, so progressive. But despite all this digital enthusiasm, there is still a need for technological upgrades in many places. In particular, the checking and payment processes behind ticket inspection could be optimized. As a forward-looking pioneer in local rail transport, National Express is demonstrating the advantages that digitized and automated control and customer processes can bring.

Ticket inspection on the train is something we are all familiar with. If a passenger doesn’t have a ticket on them, an unpleasant procedure begins that involves significant time and effort on the part of the conductor and the transport company. Let’s consider a specific example. Passenger Bob actually has a job ticket, which he uses to commute to work every day. However, today he has forgotten his wallet including his job ticket and ID. There are now two scenarios for him and the conductor: one is time-consuming, the other is efficient. Which would you choose?


One incident, two scenarios

If Bob is unable to present ID, a standardized process will be initiated. The conductor has to involve the police. The police notes down his personal details and checks his name and address. This procedure takes up the conductor’s time, allowing other passengers without a ticket to continue to travel undetected. The incident also involves a lot of additional work; internal processing in the transport company alone can take up to 48 hours.
Bob has to present his job ticket retroactively. But he misses the opening hours of the service desk and eventually forgets the entire matter. The transport company now has to deal with receivable managment and Bob ultimately needs to pay dunning fees in addition to the increased passenger fare.

The procedure is much faster with the automated processes of TicketCheck, an integrated financial service platform by Arvato Financial Solutions. With this approach, the conductor can check Bob’s address against extensive databases, all in compliance with data protection regulations. In a matter of seconds, the conductor receives confirmation that Bob’s information is correct. Bob then receives his increased fare ticket. His case is recorded in the system in just a few minutes. As soon as Bob has his job ticket to hand again, he can take a photo and upload it to the customer portal. He meets the deadline, can reduce his increased fare ticket and pay it directly online. And all this is possible without an inconvenient trip to the service desk.

For me it’s clear which scenario is more pleasant and above all more efficient for the passenger, conductor and the transport company.


National Express uses TicketCheck

Here, the conductor’s work is only the beginning of a series of challenges that transport companies have to face when it comes to ticket inspections. It’s no different with National Express. The British rail transport company has identified three “major construction sites” in its customer processes: complex requirements for ticket inspection and address validation, high administrative costs for processing cases, and inconvenience for passengers. An additional challenge for the company can be seen with the relatively new Rhein-Ruhr-Express (RXX), which connects the two metropolitan regions every 15 minutes. Here, there is a very high volume of passengers at short intervals between the stops. So it’s important to be able to check and validate tickets extremely quickly. But that is easier said than done. Staff have to contend with different barcodes, e-tickets and fare systems. Follow-up processes also often end with payment losses and debt collection. All this impelled National Express to act.
“The administrative cost and monetary loss due to outdated structures are no longer fit for current times,” says Jan Trauernicht, Directors of Marketing, Fares and Sales at National Express Rail GmbH. “We therefore wanted to get started with the right digital solutions. With Arvato, we compiled an integrated system of financial and customer services.” From ticket inspection in a matter of seconds to efficient data management, all processes at National Express are now fully automated in the background.


Digital from start to finish

National Express opted for the end-to-end mobility platform of Arvato, which handles all process steps in an integrated system. Services like real-time address validation and a customer-friendly self-service portal with various payment options now simplify the work of conductors and staff at National Express. The modular mobility system takes care of all relevant steps from data capture through to conclusion of the claim in a holistic process individually tailored to National Express. For passengers who need to present tickets retroactively or pay increased fare tickets, the self-service portal can be accessed with a single click via a link.

“Since we have improved the processes for both sides – conductors and passengers – and started to handle everything over the platform, we have successfully closed far more cases than before,” adds Trauernicht. In the second half of 2019, National Express was able to process more than 13,300 cases using the system. More than a quarter of passengers used the self-service portal, mostly via their smartphone. Thanks to the upload feature, they could submit tickets online using their phone or other devices. The majority of passengers also paid their increased fares by smartphone and around 23 percent by immediate bank transfer or Giropay. Receivables were therefore settled on time.

The success of National Express and many other transport companies is a testament to the digitalization strategy of local public transport. Over 80 percent of local public transport operators in Germany are already using the modular end-to-end mobility solution. National Express likewise intends to expand its digital strategy and make use of the upcoming functions of the Arvato platform. With performance and process monitoring for receivables in the dashboard, for example, customer groups can be viewed individually and measures initiated in the client portal in the future. As you can see, there is still significant potential for digitalization in the local public transport sector.


Find out more about the advantages of our end-to-end mobility solution and how you can prepare for the digital future of mobility in our Mobility Insight.

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