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All aboard the change train!

The iconic ticket office, a familiar sight at railway stations, has long been a symbol of human interaction and assistance in the age of travel. However, as the world changes, it seems that our transportation systems are also changing. It has been announced that there are plans to close nearly every railway station ticket office across England in an effort to reduce costs amid dwindling passenger numbers and revenue in the post-COVID era. While the move is deemed essential for some, it has sparked a wave of concerns, opposition, and debates across the nation.

Farewell to Ticket Offices 🎫

With passenger numbers at their lowest since 2002 and revenue down by a staggering 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels, the decision to close ticket offices seems inevitable from a cost-saving perspective. It has been stated that a mere 12% of train tickets are currently purchased from station offices, a dramatic decline from 85% in 1995. The proposal aims to redirect resources and increase staff availability on platforms and concourses to support customers using ticket machines and other alternative means of purchase.

Unforeseen Consequences 🛑

While the closure of ticket offices may appear to be a practical and logical solution, it has ignited significant opposition. Unions and disability advocates have raised valid concerns about the potential consequences of this decision. Job losses are a prominent worry, affecting the livelihoods of station employees. Anti-social behaviour is another alarming issue, as ticket offices have traditionally provided a sense of security and supervision. Moreover, this move might impede access to trains for disabled individuals, particularly wheelchair users and the visually impaired, exacerbating existing challenges.

Diverging Perspectives 🎭

It is evident that there are conflicting perspectives on the ticket office closures. While proponents argue that they are a necessary step in adapting to modern times, opponents raise essential questions about the implications of such a move on the community and the railway experience as a whole. Striking a balance between reducing costs and maintaining accessibility and service quality remains a complex challenge.

Evolution of Travel 🚆

As technology evolves, so do our travel habits. Self-service ticket machines, contactless card payments and apps have revolutionised ticket purchasing for many passengers, making it more convenient and efficient. However, it is crucial to recognise that not all travellers are comfortable with or have access to these technological advances. Striving for inclusivity in a fast-paced digital age requires careful consideration.

The Way Forward 🏃‍♂️

A vital aspect of this process is ensuring that the concerns of all stakeholders, including staff, passengers, and disability advocates, are taken into account. A collaborative approach, involving open dialogue and creative problem-solving, will be essential to finding solutions that balance economic efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

How Orlo Can Revolutionise Railway Companies’ Customer Support🪄

In the face of evolving customer expectations and the challenges posed by ticket office closures, rail companies must find innovative solutions to deliver exceptional customer support. This is where Orlo steps in with its powerful capabilities, designed to transform customer interactions and elevate service quality to new heights.

1. Unifying Digital Conversations: The Orlo Inbox

With ticket office closures impacting customer interactions, the Orlo Inbox serves as a vital central hub for managing reputation, addressing complaints related to closures, and efficiently handling questions regarding ticket purchases. This platform seamlessly integrates digital conversations from various channels, such as social media, live chat, WhatsApp, and SMS, enabling rail teams to respond promptly and consistently. By adopting this centralised approach, critical customer interactions are effectively addressed, ensuring that no issues are overlooked or unnecessarily delayed. Additionally, the Orlo Inbox provides valuable insights into the quantity of these interactions, empowering the rail teams to make informed decisions while devising communication strategies.

2. AI-Driven Listening for Insights

Orlo’s Social listening feature allows rail companies to monitor conversations in real-time, ensuring that they are aware of customer sentiment and concerns. By staying ahead of emerging issues and potential crises, companies can respond promptly and take proactive steps to address customer queries and apprehensions.

This wealth of data can also spark ideas for future content, ensuring rail companies remain engaged and responsive to their customers’ needs. Emotion Detection and Sentiment Analysis further deepen understanding, revealing the true impact of content and the resonance of the narrative with the target audience.

3. Automation for Enhanced Efficiency

The digital landscape demands agility and efficiency, and Orlo helps rail companies meet these demands through automation. By implementing intelligent automation features, teams can streamline repetitive tasks and optimise response times. Automated processes free up valuable time, enabling teams to focus on more complex customer issues and create a smoother customer journey.

4. Brand Monitoring and Sentiment Analysis

Understanding the impact of ticket office closures on brand sentiment is crucial. Orlo’s sentiment analysis feature allows railway companies to gauge public perception accurately. By tracking sentiment over time, companies can identify shifts in public opinion and adapt their crisis management strategies accordingly.

Wrap it up 🌯

The closure of ticket offices presents both challenges and opportunities for those in the rail sector. As technology shapes the way we travel, we must not lose sight of the human touch that has defined the railway experience for generations. Striking a harmonious balance between innovation and inclusivity will shape the railways of the future, ensuring that the journey remains accessible and enjoyable for all. To navigate this evolving landscape and maintain exceptional customer support, integrating Orlo into your operations can be a transformative solution. By unifying digital conversations, gaining valuable insights through AI-driven listening, embracing automation, and ensuring consistency, rail companies can thrive in the digital era while keeping their passengers satisfied and engaged.

Orlo brings a new dimension of efficiency, personalisation, and proactive engagement to the rail industry, making it an indispensable ally for the journey ahead.

Book a personalised demo with one of our experts to explore the full potential of Orlo for your railway company.

Sarah has 7 years of experience in the world of social media, previously working in both B2B and B2C businesses. Sarah has worked on various award-winning campaigns and social strategies throughout her time in the industry and is now passionate about ensuring customers are also achieving their social media goals and how Orlo can support them on that journey.