Virgin Trains has revealed the results of one of the most extensive pieces of customer research ever undertaken by the travel operator – and has used the results to determine investment priorities for the new franchise.
Customers were asked to name their top priorities for an ‘ideal customer experience’, from booking a journey and on-board experience through to arrival.
One of the top priorities for customers was being rewarded for their loyalty, with 84 per cent saying they would like this.
Another key part of the customer experience was boarding guidance and assistance on the platform, with 72 per cent of passengers keen to see more pre-boarding help when catching their train.
Improvement of station waiting areas also featured highly, with 62 per cent of customers asking for better facilities to enable them to work or wait in a comfortable environment.
The travel operator has also committed to spending £20 million upgrading stations along the network as it seeks to tackle customers’ top priorities.
Branson was his usual retiring self at the launch at London Euston station
Speaking at Euston Station, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, pledged to put the customer at the heart of a £50 million investment in the passenger experience.
Branson said: “Today is not only about looking towards the future; it’s also a celebration of how far we’ve come.
“Since winning the West Coast Franchise in 1997, we have revolutionised train travel beyond all recognition, transforming a struggling rail artery into the UK’s most popular long-distance route now carrying 32 million passengers every year.
“But we don’t just want to meet customer expectations, we want to exceed them.
“And that’s why we’re committing to go further than any other train operator, to create an unparalleled on-board experience for our customers.
“Our customers told us what would make their journeys with us even better and we listened.
“We have already started to make this a reality, from beefing up our pre-boarding teams to making a great start with our new Nectar rewards programme.
“We have even more ambitious plans to delight every customer who travels with us, whether that’s through being able to offer thousands of extra seats or new services to Blackpool and Shrewsbury.
“And it’s our people who will help make this happen, as we aim to make every journey on a Virgin train as close to perfect as we possibly can.”
For family and leisure travellers, offering quality time on-board by creating the best possible experience and making customers aware of all the benefits of travelling by train is a top priority.
For business travellers, Virgin Trains is working hard to offer an experience on-board that is more akin to an office through the introduction of an upgraded Wi-Fi service.
Through an extensive engagement programme, Virgin Trains is also empowering all its 3,287 staff to make a positive difference to every journey, whether that’s helping those in need of extra assistance through the Priority Boarding service, or simply surprising and delighting a customer to make their day.
As part of the celebration, Virgin Trains is launching a brand new marketing campaign.
The £8 million integrated campaign aims to get people out of their cars and off planes by focussing on the unique customer experience on a Virgin train.