Virgin Trains runs more than 100,000 train journeys every year, carrying 38 million passengers. The train operator realised that there were significant opportunities to improve the omnichannel experience and grow online revenue.
The organisation needed to re-engage its customers and improve the end-to-end experience – from the moment a customer first decides to travel by train, through to purchase, and repeat engagement.
Our objectives were to:
- Work with internal teams to deliver against their digital KPIs on an ongoing basis
- Meet and exceed the desired customer experience, measured by customer satisfaction and customer success (using Hotjar, Google Analytics, formal customer interviews, and informal customer discussions)
- Own the design and ensure the experience is fully consistent across all platforms
- Make it easier for customers to: (a) book, pay and fulfil tickets through digital channels; and (b) self-serve online to reduce calls to customer services teams
What we did
We work side-by-side with Virgin Trains as an extension of their team. We're continually collaborating through joint workshops, sketching/ideation sessions, and designing the best customer experience together:
We quickly on-boarded, basing ourselves on-site at Virgin Trains once a week from the offset and integrating with the team. This allowed us to truly understand the business goals, challenges, and decision-making.
We created a prioritised roadmap based on our audit of Virgin Trains' previous research, along with our knowledge of the rail industry.
A big part of our success was just to get cracking. Within a few weeks we'd already designed a range of new features. By solving business and customer challenges together we could rapidly build trust and understanding.
Working on-site at Virgin Trains' Euston offices means we can easily run research with customers at the station (typically through interviews or guerrilla testing). We analyse Google Analytics, monitor Hotjar recordings, and carry out user research to inform all design decisions.
Working at the Virgin Trains' offices once a week means we're truly embedded in their business. We work across multiple teams to facilitate joined-up comms across the company and bring together collective learnings about customers.
As a strategic partner, we've run workshops to flesh out early concepts and challenge our client to think outside the sector to spark new ideas. Our ideation workshops and roadmap planning sessions have helped us create a 12-month digital roadmap, with a backlog of prioritised initiatives.
On a more tactical level, we've designed/redesigned lots of new features and products. A few examples include us designing an Alexa Skill, new navigation with better access to purchasing, and new landing pages to allow Virgin Trains to earn more in incremental revenue.
Our ways of working mean that everyone can see what we're doing, with direct access to our Trello board. This has been an integral part of our successful partnership, as we continue to work as one cohesive and joined-up team.
Our ongoing roadmap of wins for Virgin Trains has made countless improvements to the purchasing funnel to increase conversion. For example, we've transformed the online sale experience, increasing conversions during seat sale times.
We're A/B testing numerous theories on an ongoing basis, helping Virgin Trains make continuous small wins across all key metrics, such as ticket sales, account registrations, average transaction value, number of journeys with Virgin Trains, and mobile revenue share.
Key metrics include:
- An 80% uplift in website sales during seat sale times
- Travelling by train as a family can be expensive yet we've increased click through to family offers by 23%
- Interacting with the search panel to find tickets is a fundamental customer interaction and we've increased this interaction by 5% on desktop and 10% on mobile
- We've made tactical improvements throughout the booking flow - for example, just one improvement we made to choosing a train time has increased conversion by 4%