Virgin Trains embarked on a journey to radically improve customer service, and selected ServiceNow as a key strategic partner. Virgin Trains is still in the early stages of its service transformation, but results are on track. It is digitising, automating, and personalising the rail experience.
Virgin Trains is determined to transform the rail experience into a reliable source of enjoyment and pleasure. The company wants to deliver a consistently positive experience that keeps customers happy, and keeps them coming back.
“We are moving toward a digitised, automated, personalised rail experience that puts customer satisfaction first. All of that starts with a foundation of streamlined internal processes and excellent IT service delivery, and that is exactly what ServiceNow brings to the table. Eventually, we will be able to use the same system to integrate data and automate processes across the enterprise, in just about any business function,” says John Sullivan, CIO Virgin Trains.
Modernising IT service management infrastructure and apps to create a single source of truth and visibility allowed the Virgin Trains IT team to take ownership of and continuously improve processes. For Virgin Trains, the first milestone on the journey to service excellence was modernisation of the underlying IT Service Management infrastructure and applications. The company’s legacy IT service management platform was aging and had limited capabilities.
The focal point initially was transparency. Virgin Trains has also streamlined core processes so that they take less time, making it possible for staff to focus on higher-value tasks. The modernisation effort was also accelerated by the ease of implementation of the Now Platform.
“Fundamentally, ServiceNow gives us the data we need to improve the service desk and overall service delivery. In the past, we made changes based on what we felt needed changing. Now we have the data to drive better decisions,” says Sullivan.
“Everything we do for customers starts with great support for employees. If you do not have infrastructure and processes in place that can improve service delivery and grow and evolve with you, transformation is just not possible. We had no visibility into processes and we had very limited data on which to base decisions that would improve service delivery. With ServiceNow we have data and visibility into processes, so we can take ownership of those processes and continuously improve them,” says Dean Underwood, Head of IT Services for Virgin Trains.
At a previous company, Underwood experienced the Now Platform in action and saw that it could integrate applications and data from multiple sources, thereby creating not only a single source of the truth but also new ways to streamline a broad array of IT service management processes. Equally important, the Now Platform gave Virgin Trains insight into core IT processes such as incident management, change management, and more.
“We can quickly understand where failures are occurring, what is causing failures, average resolution times, and so on—and we can monitor our progress in both preventing outages and minimising their impact to employees,” says Underwood.
“We have automated tasks and simplified processes, for example making it easier and faster to get needed approvals for changes. In some cases, what used to take a month now takes a day. The core functionality is all built in. It is relatively easy to activate the specific modules and functionality you require. And the platform is cloud-based so scale-up is not an issue.”
The result of the modernisation efforts has been a radical improvement in the quality of IT service delivery. But that is just the beginning of the transformation journey for Virgin Trains. By radically improving their employees’ experience, Virgin Trains saw significant increases in their customer satisfaction metrics, going from mid-20s to averages between 70 to 80.
“Richard Branson has a saying if we look after our staff, they will look after our customers. And so, a key part of our transformation journey is constantly improving the service we provide to employees, and measuring their satisfaction levels. We saw a 44% improvement in the first eight weeks with ServiceNow, just from improved hiring processes. To us, that score is a measure of how much lost time we are giving back to employees, and how much more they are able to focus on what matters most — constantly improving the customer experience,” says Sullivan.
Sullivan adds, the increases in CSAT were attributable to many factors, but the acceleration of processes enabled by ServiceNow was critical. Employees do not always analyse why service seems better — they just perceive that they are getting what they need faster. Automating common customer service tasks with Customer Service Management saves time for both Virgin Trains agents and its customers by resolving issues faster. The next phase of transformation is currently underway with the implementation of ServiceNow Customer Service Management.
“Customer Service Management will help us automate common customer service tasks and save both agents and customers a lot of time. We get thousands of inquiries, suggestions, and requests each year. With Customer Service Management we can issue reference numbers, track cases more easily, and get important data about our customers that will drive future improvements.”
In addition, Virgin Trains will use Customer Service Management to connect departments internally and further expedite customer service. With Customer Service Management, it will be possible to route work from customer service to field service, engineering, operations, finance, legal, so questions raised by customers can be quickly routed to the appropriate staff. Creating an end-to-end service value chain for its suppliers extends the efficiencies that Virgin Trains achieved and further enhances service and satisfaction
Recognising that the overall customer experience also depends on partners, Virgin Trains has launched an initiative to create an end-to-end service value chain that extends to its base of suppliers. “We are on track to save 20% of our operating budget, and we want to invest some of those savings into our supply chain,” says Sullivan.
More specifically, Virgin Trains is restructuring its RFP process so that suppliers are highly motivated to use the Now Platform for their own service management processes. Sullivan says, “We want to extend the efficiencies we have achieved internally to our supply chain to further enhance service and customer satisfaction.”
Virgin Trains is looking at innovative ways to deliver the rail experience of the future. “We want to provide digital entertainment, easy access to up-to-date schedule information, simplified booking and payment capabilities, the list goes on,” says Underwood. “The Virgin brand has always been about innovation, and we are trying to be inventive in improving the entire train experience.”
The reason ServiceNow is a partner is that their platform is extensible to any business process. ServiceNow is capable of true enterprise service management — bringing service improvement not just to IT but to security operations, HR, finance, legal, compliance, and more.
- Virgin Trains is looking at innovative ways to deliver the rail experience of the future.
- The Now Platform can integrate applications and data from multiple sources, creating a single source of truth.
- The Now Platform gave Virgin Trains insight into core IT processes such as incident management, change management.
- Modernising ITSM infrastructure to create a single source of truth allowed Virgin Trains to improve processes.
- The first milestone was modernisation of the underlying IT Service Management infrastructure and applications.
- The modernisation effort was accelerated by the ease of implementation of the Now Platform.
- The next phase of transformation is currently underway with the implementation of ServiceNow Customer Service Management.
- 75% reduction in hiring time frames, £50,000 cost savings, staff can focus on higher-value tasks.
- Improvement in customer satisfaction attributes within first eight weeks.
- Employees do not always analyse why service seems better, they just perceive they are getting what they need faster.
- Automating common customer service tasks saves time for both Virgin Trains agents and customers by resolving issues faster.