November 27, 2014

Guest blog post: Digitalization shapes up the customer experience

Mikael Aro

CEO , VR

Digitalization enables a lot. We can be more transparent and develop better services. For us it is as huge of a step as railways were to the society when they were built.

In this guest post Mikael Aro, CEO of VR, discusses his views on digitalization and responds to our CEO Kimmo Alkio's challengeEarlier this week, Cisco Sweden‘s General Manager Niklas Andersson shared his views on the topic. You can read his blog post here.

Thank you Kimmo Alkio for challenging me to share ideas how to ensure world-class services in the tightening competition.

The biggest game changer for us at VR, the Finnish railways, has definitely been the digitalization during last years. As Kimmo Alkio said in his blog post, the urgency of change is not as scary as it might sound. If you embrace it, you win it on your side.

For us, the challenge is to get all parties to co-operate as smoothly as possible also in the digital era. To get trains to roll on rails VR needs to co-operate with Finnish Transport Agency, Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Ministry of Transport and Communications, different business partners, and of course our employees, among other stakeholders.

But we must always put the customer first.

Digitalization transforms every step in our customers´ journey. There are four clear trends in making customers´ travelling experience the best possible.

  1. Ability for customer transaction in multiple channels
  2. Identifying the customers and targeted communication
  3. Infotainment and wifi in trains
  4. Integrated travel chains from door to door.

Mobility is a growing trend

As both the b-to-c and b-to-b companies know, mobile transactions are a growing trend. Needless to say that creating the best customer experience is not possible without mobility.

The changing customer behaviour and the smart technology have made the smooth self-service channels the most important way to serve customers. At the moment almost 65 % of the tickets in our passenger services are bought in self-service channels, when in 2011 the percentage was under 40.

The smarter the gadgets become, the more demanding the customers get, and the smarter we as service providers must become.

Mobility is also related to amenities and comfort of travelling in a train. Way before airplanes enabled wifi on-board, we had it in our trains. Working carriages have long been popular among business people. Nowadays we also offer real-time information of the traffic situation, or even of the location of a single train, and information related to connecting trains and services at the stations.

Travelling is so much more than just getting from point a to point b.

Not only get customers but engage them

Our customer program Veturi is one the most recommended in Finland. What makes it so unique then?

As mentioned before, we have put a lot of work and effort in analysing our customers´ journey and different type of customers. As a result, we have been able to build up a customer engagement program, which offers well-targeted information and services to different customer groups.

It is not one-way communication, but a dialogue and a possibility for us and the customers to develop our services towards ever smoother and enjoyable customer experience.

Mikael Aro is the CEO of VR

You can download our Future of Business Transformation study here.

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