Head of Customer Experience
Govia Thameslink Railway
Heading up CX for a UK train operator is no easy task, with rail travel often providing such critical and emotive experiences for customers, and the industry itself being such an incumbent and complex one.
To further intensify the task, as the Head of Customer Experience for Govia Thameslink Rail, Kerri Ricketts’ role covers four brands – Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern & Thameslink – and the end-to-end experience for over 12 million customers, taking more than 1m journeys every week and accounting for over a third of rail journeys in the UK.
Thus, for Kerri, delivering customer experience success at GTR means working and collaborating towards one clear ambition: to provide an easy-to-understand rail experience across all the four brands, which means customers choose to travel with GTR and love doing so.
In practice, this is far from straightforward, and has meant a huge amount of cross-functional and inter-departmental strategy work for Kerri and her team. With Covid-19 bringing most rail travel to a near standstill in 2020 and much of 2021, this has also meant essentially ‘resetting’ much of their pre-coronavirus work and refocusing what it means to travel by rail during a global pandemic.
The customer feedback process has been critical, and Kerri’s work has involved utilising all feedback provided through customer contact, complaints, praise and stakeholder feedback; as well as proactively seeking feedback from both existing customers and non-users through focus groups to establish what it is they most require from rail services during the pandemic.
Collecting and actioning employee feedback has also been essential, and has led to 3 customer projects including a ‘staff helpfulness’ mystery shopper programme, a new employee praising scheme and more in-depth customer surveys.
Pre-pandemic, Kerri led the creation of GTR’s first Customer Strategy as well as the first executive-level Customer Alliance Board that incorporated both train operating companies and National Rail and centred solely on customers.
A huge amount of Kerri and her team’s work also centres around supporting passengers during disruption to services, something that has only increased in focus during coronavirus, with the need to ensure keyworkers travelled safely and punctually being so heavily publicised.
I think that any CX leader over the pandemic should be celebrated for the sheer agility that has had to be delivered to ensure that customer and stakeholder needs and understood and inform their business decisions, during multiple waves and changes to government guidance. For public transport, it was critical that we continued to run a train service that key workers could both rely on and feel safe to use.”