The Ten Commandments of How to Become a Customer-driven Railway Operator

The Ten Commandments of How to Become a Customer-driven Railway Operator


M van Hagen, M de Bruyn, Netherlands Railways, NL


The Netherlands Railways have formulated ten basic rules which help to become a customer driven railway operator. Following these rules results in better perceived quality performance and better results for the company.


In day to day operations railway operators have to compete with the quality of the car. People who want to go to another location have to move and most of the time they opt for the way of the least resistance, which means the fastest and easiest way of travelling. On top of that passengers like to travel convenient and they want to experience some quality time. Most operators have a good focus on the basic qualities of the train trip, like safety, reliability, cleanliness and speed. Research learns however that this is not enough to create happy customers. When the basic facilities are in order customers also want to experience a pleasant journey, in which they can relax or enjoy the trip itself. Within the Netherlands Railways 10 basic rules were formulated which help to become a customer driven railway operator. These rules, which will be explained in more detail in the paper, are:
1. Customer is king! Focus on the experience of the customer.
2. Complete experience. Customer satisfaction is based on the complete customer experience. Take care of the customer from start to finish, and make the finish a peak experience, one that exceeds expectations.
3. The investment-value equilibrium. Customers are prepared to invest money, time and effort for the right value. These make an equilibrium that works both ways: for a higher valued experience customers invest more (in money, time and/or effort), and customers also expect a higher value once their investment is higher.
4. A hierarchy of quality needs. Define all quality-dimensions and the hierarchy of importance for the customer like: safety, reliability, speed, easiness, convenience and experience.
5. Be aware of dissatisfiers and satisfiers. Not all qualities are equally important to customers, there appears to be a hierarchy in customer needs
6. How do we do? Measure the quality experience of your service for the whole journey, how well doe we perform according to our customers?
7. Good is good enough. Stop investing in basic qualities once they reach an acceptable level and start investing in experiences. There is not a linear relationship between investments and customer satisfaction.
8. Experiments! You only learn what works best by experimenting, the customer is unable to imagine and articulate abstract improvements.
9. Evaluate! Investigate the customer experiences in an holistic way, throughout the complete customer experience
10. Scale up and cash! Copy successful measures to other areas of your service and collect the revenues.


Association for European Transport