Stefan Costeur, Digital & Innovation Manager at NMBS/SNCB, brought his story. Being committed to improving the traveller experience basis, he embarked in 2017 on a mission to further optimise the customer journey within SNCB/NMBS. Only, at that time, he did not know what exactly he was getting into. After more than a year of talks and convincing the Executive Committee, Stefan Costeur got a team at his disposal in 2019. Their goal: to improve services with the end customer as the starting point.
"One of the first projects our team picked up was to provide insight into the real-time occupancy of train carriages," Costeur explains. "The corona pandemic caused a lot of uncertainty and questions. By showing travellers how full or empty a carriage is, they can plan their journey with peace of mind. So today, in the SNCB app, you can see how many people are on a train. And such a step forward opens new doors to optimise the customer journey further."
The Costeur team had two focal points that coloured their work: stimulating a culture of innovation within NMBS/SNCB and removing friction for travellers. The 'friction hunters', as author Steven van Belleghem once put it nicely. "Our organisation has a lot of data available for this, but they are spread across different locations and are often not actionable or usable", Costeur explains.
That is why NMBS/SNCB invested a great deal in its own Customer Data Platform (CDP) and started implementing this platform in 2021. For this, they called in the help of partners Adobe and PwC. The CDP collects customer data from all kinds of sources, such as the website and the app, to create one overarching 360-degree customer profile. NMBS/SNCB is currently in a transition phase in which more and more data sources are linked to the CDP. According to Costeur, major steps have already been taken, but work is still to be done to fully exploit the CDP. "At the moment, for example, we do not yet link customer profiles based on e-mail addresses. This is because that data is still stored in different systems. We are working hard to have one overarching customer profile for each traveller based on all contact points and linked data."
It will then be possible for NMBS/SNCB to make even more connections between different
types of data sets that are now mainly stored in silos. This means that the data is only available to a specific team; therefore, an automatic connection between datasets is not possible.
An essential aspect according to Wouter Van Geluwe, Chief Technologist at Adobe. "The right customer experiences are based on the right infrastructure. This enables companies to collect, manage and understand customer data. That makes the most personalised experiences possible."
For Costeur, connecting all data sources in the CDP of NMBS/SNCB is an excellent prospect for the coming year: "By connecting all that data soon, we can initiate even more innovative projects for travellers. Think of loyalty programmes, more personalised services or dynamic information and content. The possibilities are almost endless!