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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 platform 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.
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 platform 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 platform 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.”
Global Customer Experience Director
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. 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 platform 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 platforms to provide a resolution.”
Chat has always been one of Trainline’s two live channels - along with social media. Speaking about why customers love using the chat feature, Mike says, “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.”
Ever since the arrival of the pandemic, chat has become an even more important channel of communication. Like thousands of other companies across the world, Trainline was forced to close its offices temporarily 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 guiding more queries to Chat, where disruption is minimized. With Chat, agents also have a few extra seconds to respond after initiating the chat. This gives them some flexibility within our SLAs.”
Trainline uses Freshdesk’s reporting and analytics capabilities extensively to track performance. 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 tool to link data between our service desk and core sales platforms to produce detailed reports.” These reports have revealed significant improvements in four broad areas:
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.”
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