Influencing the Train Experience: Using a Successful Measurement Instrument
Mark Van Hagen, Netherlands Railways, Jessica Sauren, Netherlands Railways
The netherlands Railways have developed a Train Experience Monitor which demonstrates that the train experience is a significant part of the appraisal of a train service and that this can be measured reliably thus enabling the actual regulation of experience.
Introduction and Objective
If Transport Operating Companies (TOCs) wish to have a right to exist in the future, then they must not only offer a trustworthy and accessible service but also ensure that the service is perceived as appealing. The train journey must be an experience, not just a trip from A to B.
To purposely upgrade the service provision to a higher perception of quality (see ETC paper Van Hagen & De Bruyn, 2012) an instrument is required that specifically addresses this experience. After all, it is pointless to have a vision and to outline policy if the effects thereof can neither be measured nor influenced. This calls for an instrument which measures both the dissatisfaction (the basic service provision) and the satisfaction (extras that make the journey more pleasant).
The current customer satisfaction measurements, such as KTO (KlantTevredenheidsOnderzoek) in the Netherlands or NPS (National Passenger Survey) in the UK, focus primarily on the dissatisfiers. These measurements fail to meet any necessity to regulate or influence the satisfiers, such as comfort and experiential aspects.
Following the successfully implemented StationsBelevingsMonitor (SBM, or Station Experience Monitor, see ETC paper of Van Hagen & Heiligers, 2011), NS has now developed a TreinBelevingsMonitor (TBM, or Train Experience Monitor). The TBM measures those quality experiences of customers which can be monitored with an aim to influencing the main themes and underlying aspects. The TBM is a scientifically underpinned questionnaire which can ask passengers about all kinds of aspects of the train and the train journey. On the one hand these concern functional questions (aimed at dissatisfiers), such as safety, cleanliness and information provision, and on the other hand more emotional questions (aimed at satisfiers) regarding the atmosphere and comfort on the train, i.e. whether passengers find the train atmospherically pleasing, colourful, quiet and sweet-smelling.
The ultimate aim of the Train Experience Monitor is to make train journeys more pleasant, thus improving the image of the TOCs and increasing the number of journeys undertaken.
The TBM questionnaire was filled in by passengers on each of the nine different types of carrier running in the Netherlands and on the international high speed train to Germany, the ICE. Moreover, the enquiry was carried out on various routes throughout the country, both during the week and at the weekend, during peak and off-peak hours. The questionnaire was filled in by 5157 passengers.
The questionnaire assessed items focusing on dissatisfiers and satisfiers within six themes: Scheduling, Staff, Atmosphere, Comfort, Functionality and Safety & Cleanliness, whereby the last four only refer to the train itself and the first two predominantly concern the train journey.
The most important finding was that experience indeed plays a crucial role – as can be seen in the appraisal of the different types of trains. The experiential aspects significantly influence the appraisal of the train and train journey. Furthermore, it appeared that a higher quality of experiential aspects results in higher appraisals of train and train journey.
The differences between types of train with regard to the appraisals per theme are particularly poignant with the theme Atmosphere: the difference between new and old trains is almost one whole mark. What is striking here is that also the theme Safety & Cleanliness show a considerable difference.
The measurement results of the TBM demonstrate that the train experience is a significant part of the appraisal of a train service and that this can be measured reliably thus enabling the actual regulation of experience.
Association for European Transport