London, UK

  • Flexibility to offer multiple customer support channels
  • High volume of customer queries
  • Adapting to remote work setup
  • Increased customer satisfaction through efficient support channels
  • Higher deflection of queries to bots
  • Faster onboarding for new agents through intuitive UI
About Trainline

Every day millions of travellers across Europe and the UK travel through extensive rail and coach networks for work and leisure. These users of public transport have multiple demands, from booking tickets, to comparing prices, route-planning and staying constantly in touch with the latest live travel updates. Trainline operates a centralised system through which all of this data and information is relayed. With headquarters in the UK, customers living in more than 175 countries, and over 32.4M cumulative downloads of their app, Trainline is the leading independent rail and coach travel brand globally. Today the company sees around 90 million visits per month on their website and app, with 76% of their transactions on mobile channels. 

With the enormous disruption to travel caused by the pandemic, Trainline’s unwavering focus has been to ensure customers are supported throughout their journey. We spoke to Mike Massimi, Global Customer Experience Director at Trainline and Iain McKay, Operations Solutions Architect at Trainline to understand how the company has leveraged Freshworks’ solutions to help maintain their high levels of service. 

Zeroing in on the perfect customer support solution

Trainline’s core philosophy begins and ends with customer satisfaction. As the world started to adjust to new ways of working, travelling and communicating, Trainline began to look outside their organisation to find a solution that would help them adapt. When it came to evaluating suppliers the team was clear about what they were looking for. “We wanted to have a purely web-based solution with a wide number of third-party integrations, straightforward APIs and marketplace applications,” says Mike Massimi. “But beyond that, we were looking for a bespoke solution tailored for Trainline, our diverse customer base and their hugely varied travel needs and wants. We wanted a solution that would be able to adapt to our requirements without us having to adjust to its limitations.”

Trainline was just as clear about what they did not want as they were about what they did want in a solutions partner. “The one thing we were not looking for was a solution that required third-party consultancy. As Iain and I like to say, if we need a hand, we want to find it at the end of our arms. A middleman that juggles between what we want, what the solution provider can deliver and how much they’re going to charge us to mediate for their services only complicates matters while racking up costs. Simply put, we want to own the relationship with our partners fully, end-to-end.”

With these criteria firmly in place, Trainline began the process of evaluating the top customer service software in the market and whittled the list down to the solution that best suited their requirements - Freshworks. Freshdesk was the first product to be implemented to simplify Trainline’s ticket lifecycle management and this has now been extended to include Freshchat (now Freshdesk Messaging) and Bots as well.

“Flexibility and reliability are key for us to scale at pace while remaining agile. Freshworks’ solutions met our needs in having a future-proof platform to support our customers and agents at all times.”

mike massimi mike massimi
Mike Massimi

Global Customer Experience Director


Unifying the customer experience end-to-end

Trainline firmly believes in expanding the concept of an ‘omnichannel’ approach to an ‘Opti channel’ approach. Elaborating on this philosophy, Mike says, “We need the flexibility to triage what we believe is the ‘optimum’ channel for our customer, depending on where they are in their journey. For example, if we have a customer on a platform, waiting for a train, there is going to be an immediate need for live travel information and updates. In this situation, we don’t expect them to send us an email, so we reach out to them on chat.”

Key to the success of this ‘Opti’-channel approach was finding a customer service platform that could easily integrate with the many different applications and channels that customers use to contact support agents. Moreover, the flexibility to build and extend serverless applications that suit specific business needs was a real game changer for Trainline. As Iain McKay explains, “We use hundreds of automations based on the ticket’s lifecycle and timing triggers. The fact that Freshdesk has an SDK that allows us to write serverless apps aligned to our complicated business logic is great!” 

Trainline’s top customer support channels are email, chat and voice and Freshdesk provides a single unified experience across all these platforms for both agents and customers. Speaking about the integration Iain says, “Freshdesk is connected to our telephony solution such that tickets are automatically generated as soon as a customer calls in. Furthermore our back-office platform integrates with the Freshdesk software to update those tickets with agents’ notes on the tasks they carry out for each customer. What’s more, GDPR compliance apps within Freshdesk help us quickly and easily generate subject access requests for our customers, without the need for significant amounts of manual administration.”

The end-result of these integrations? “We have managed to drastically reduce average handling times for our agents,” Iain continues. “We have included controls that launch certain applications directly from within Freshdesk, eliminating the need for agents to toggle between different tools to provide a resolution.”

Delivering lightning-fast resolutions through live chat and bots

Chat has always been one of Trainline’s two live channels - along with social media - but since the arrival of the pandemic, it has become even more important. Like thousands of other companies across the world, Trainline was forced to close its offices and move to a remote working model. This sudden shift posed unique challenges to the customer support team. Speaking about the limitations of voice support in a remote setup, Mike explains, “With the work-from-home situation, our agents have a lot of environment and background noise, which can be distracting for customers. We are now trying to deflect as many queries as possible to Chat, where the customer has little or no perception of the agent’s actual environment. With Chat, agents also have a few extra seconds to respond after initiating the chat. This gives them some flexibility within our SLAs.”

But it is not just the agent who benefits from chat, it’s also the end-user. According to Mike, “It is much easier for our customers to choose from a list of preselected options on the chat or chatbot. If they are in the middle of their commute or in a crowded or busy setting, this is a lot more convenient than getting on a voice call.”

Achieving business goals with data-driven intelligence 

Trainline extensively uses Freshdesk’s reporting and analytics capabilities, powered by the Freshworks Neo platform. They closely monitor their success metrics across functions, to increase customer satisfaction and productivity across teams. 

As Iain describes, “We use the out-of-the-box dashboards, reports and custom reports from within reporting and analytics to get a real-time view. We also perform nightly exports to our BI platform to link data between our service desk and core sales platforms to produce detailed reports.”

Using actionable intelligence from Freshworks Analytics, Trainline is able to improve performance across several important business metrics including self-service adoption, bot deflection, and customer satisfaction. This helps them reduce customer-agent contact ratio and resolution time across channels thereby enabling them to provide better customer experience.

Succeeding across functions

After implementation, Trainline has noted improvements in their business, fuelled by various capabilities of the Freshworks ecosystem. These include:

  • Increased customer satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is the most important metric for Trainline. With the implementation of bots and self-service options, this metric has seen a steady upward trend. As Mike sums up, “By providing a fast and efficient solution for our customers at all times, we have noticed higher engagement, more empowerment and infinitely better retention rates.” 
  • Higher deflection to bots: Lowering the customer-agent contact ratio has been a key target for Trainline’s customer experience team. By implementing chatbots, high volumes of customer queries have been deflected leading to reduced efforts for agents and faster response times for customers. 
  • Better tracking of the ticket journey: Freshdesk’s ‘parent-child’ ticketing feature allows different teams to own different parts of the ticket journey and track performance against their department-specific SLAs. 
  • Faster onboarding for agents: Having a web-based solution has helped agents more quickly learn the right paths towards ticket resolution. They are also able to easily navigate to tools within the platform thanks to all the integrations that have been put in place, which has reduced training time required for new agents.

Reflecting on the results, Mike says, “Although it’s been a very challenging year, we have noticed many positive trends. We have an amazing customer service team at Trainline and with the Freshworks solutions on board, they are now in a much stronger position to support our customers with the highest levels of service

With Freshworks’ suite of solutions in its arsenal, Trainline is equipped to take full advantage of this opportunity by offering customers a support experience that is as smooth as their journey. 

“The flexibility, value for money, and the fact that Freshworks is a very agile platform was very important to us when deciding which solution to use. But we hugely valued the human approach of the company as well. They joined us at the table and developed a tailored solution for Trainline and our unique requirements and I hope they continue to support us on our growth journey into the future.”

mike massimi mike massimi
Mike Massimi

Global Customer Experience Director