LNER began the transformation by simply asking customers: “How can we make your journey a joy?” This research led to the creation of an unparalleled pre-departure programme, a series of personal communications to each traveller which delivers tailored messaging before and after each customer’s journey. Customers can now learn what to expect for their upcoming rail travel and crucially give feedback afterwards, meaning the programme is constantly evolving and enriching itself. The pre-departure programme is now creating detailed, high-quality customer profiles at an individual level.
For example, based on booking details, LNER can now discover a customer’s likes, dislikes, reason for travel, history and loyalty; allowing them to surprise and delight particular customers at key moments in their overall journey (for instance on their twentieth booking they might receive a free at-seat glass of prosecco or an upgrade to first class).
LNER also created a digital assistant to give customers real-time information on their train – from platform numbers, to delay notifications, to revised arrival times. And to ensure that the focus wasn’t just on new technology, Merkle also played a key role in revising and redefining LNER’s multi-channel marketing strategy to ensure that LNER’s powerful new capabilities were embedded and deployed to best effect.
Digital channels are now linked with physical touchpoints with tremendous benefits for LNER’s passengers, as seen in the outcome of the programme – net advocacy scores have tripled. LNER is now sending out 40x more personalised emails and texts - and have countless more happy customers as a result.