Effect of Station Improvement Measures on Customer Satisfaction
M van Hagen, Netherlands Railways, NL; M Heilligers, Meet4research, NL
NS developed a method based on environmental psychology with which the impact of passengers? waiting and station experience has been measured. We conclude that station atmosphere has the greatest impact on the general evaluation of a station.
Stations are often regarded as change engines; places where passengers have to change as quickly and efficiently as possible from one mode of transport to another. Underpinned by research, NS currently takes the view that stations should be transformed into dynamic urban portals that not only facilitate a speedy transfer but also make the stay at the station more enjoyable. Leiden Centraal Station was chosen as the location for testing new experience-related measures that were based on passenger requirements as expressed in six customer types (needscope). Over the past three years NS and ProRail have conducted various experiments, both in real life and in a virtual laboratory, and taken measures to improve the stay at the station.
To discover which aspects the customer perceive as important, NS developed a research method that is based on environmental psychology and with which the impact of passengers' waiting and station experience can be measured. This article addresses the measures taken, the method of measurement and the measurement results. Examples of such measures are: experimenting with colour, light, music, infotainment and increasing and repositioning the shopping facilities.
The questions put to the customer during the field studies exceeded process-related questions on the state of repair, safety and cleanliness, the conventional idea in the railway sector often being that the atmosphere will probably not be highly valued but that is not where the interest of the station visitors (predominantly passengers) lies. However, in-depth analysis showed the opposite to be the case. Not only was the (station) atmosphere poorly assessed but it even had the greatest explanatory impact on the general evaluation of the station. The same applied to the presence of commercial facilities and a hospitable welcome, implying that a station with a pleasant and attractive atmosphere, in which passengers can comfortably stay/wait, will attract more passengers who are also (and sooner) prepared to purchase something. Our studies not only showed an increase in the the score for the general evaluation of Leiden Central Station with one full point but also significant positive effects on various aspects of waiting and station experience. The positive experiences gained at Leiden Central are now being adopted at large stations, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, which are currently undergoing renovation.
Association for European Transport