Salesforce Spotlight: Passenger Transport


Passenger transport is an industry where Customer Experience is the alpha and the omega. Based on my past with public transport, I remember it clearly: 101% on-time transport was expected and anything below that simply wasn’t good enough in the eyes of the customer. That being said, experience showed that great customer service, well-informed staff and correct information made a world of difference in how the customer experience turned out. That is precisely the reason why it makes sense to match Salesforce with the Passenger Transport industry, given that overview, information and efficiency makes a huge difference.

To ensure that you get value from this post, I’ll just mention a few industry references, namely:  New Jersey Transit, Delta Airlines and KLM. The latter, KLM, achieved their goal of 24/7 service and 1 hour response time. Delta achieved transparency and cross-company collaboration in their sales work. NJ Transit reduced their response time with an astonishing 57% and increased their sales capacity with 200%. In other words, there are lots of statistics to draw on, but first, let’s get an overview.

The industry’s market

Typically, passenger transport is connected to high volume (in Denmark, the S-trains have about 350.000 passengers on a daily basis – a lot in a 5.5 million population). The core service is operating transport. The core product gets a person from A to B, most often connected to a specific destination. A special category of customers are commuters, i.e. people who use the product to get to and from work. Based on the New Jersey Transit case, I have a thesis about the system environment – namely that it is very fragmented and influenced by legacy systems, given that most transportation companies have been around for a while. This can make a 360 degree overview of customer data and operational messages hard to come by.

Which challenges does the industry face?

The industry as a whole faces quite a few challenges in terms of transitioning to sustainable solutions, infrastructure development, crowded lines etc. This is however part of the materialistic and operational side of the business. In addition to that there are challenges for the business, for the customer handling and customer experience etc. The latter, however, also creates a lot of opportunities when it comes to how you handle customer service – and that is the focus of this post.

With my knowledge of the market and the industry, these are the following challenges (and opportunities):

  • Streamlining customer service (e.g. to reduce costs and achieve service goals)
  • Handling cases from all the customer channels (social, mail, chat, phone etc.)
  • Distributing information to customers, staff etc. at the right time – and via the right channels
  • Collecting information from multiple systems and channels, to create a complete 360 degree overview of customers

How does Salesforce fit?

To make it as relevant as possible, this section is inspired of what NJ Transit has achieved using Service Cloud, combined with the opportunities I see for companies who’s working with Passenger Transport:

  • 360 degree overview is the first benefit. In addition to being able to adapt the Salesforce platform according to your business needs and ambitions, you can also integrate with existing systems, so that you can collect all the relevant customer data on a combined “customer card”. For airlines, it can be anything from check-in/check-out, to where the luggage is now, total customer value etc. For train companies it is much the same in terms of customer value, but can also be more detailed information regarding travel patterns, complaints, fines, customer surveys etc.
  • Omni-channel customer service, essentially this means that you can deliver customer service via all channels. Phone calls, Chat, Social Media mentions, “Help-me” button from inside your own app, Email, Web etc. – all channels are supported and handled via a simple interface – and everything happens in connection to the 360 degree overview of the customer.
  • Skills, automated workflows and assignment rules are terms that cover the functionality that makes it possible to route incoming cases to the right employees and experts. It ensures that you get as fast a case handling as possible, and it opens up for a much higher percentage of first-time resolutions.
  • Streamlining business processes using Salesforce Service Console. The above 3 elements often end up in the console. This is the work space for employees. Here all new cases come in and are assigned the relevant case-queues. Omni-channel will push things to you as you are ready – and you can either accept the ping, or forward it. When you respond, it will be possible to respond from within the same user-interface that your employees work with, directly to the case-originating channel.
  • Maximize productivity using macros and workflows. Are there any operational disruptions? Is there a protest in an airport? Does something happen that causes several hundred to contact you with the same issue? This is where macros and workflows allow you to efficiently handle all cases by responding, processing and potentially closing them (potentially with a link to a knowledge article that has all the information), by applying the relevant macro.
  • Expanding the Self-Service capabilities by utilizing Salesforce Communities. Here you can build your own customer universe where a customer can see his or her cases, create new cases and using Salesforce Knowledge, they can access a knowledge database which can hopefully alleviate some of the cases by providing the answers up front. The knowledge database can be made publicly available, be placed as an app on your Facebook site and even be integrated with mobile apps.
  • Mystery shopper ratings – this is one of the more brilliant things from NJ Transit. Basically they built their own Salesforce1 app (using point-and-click), in which their mystery shoppers rated all aspects of their journey. It could be anything from the condition of the seat to the attitude of staff. All data is stored in an object in Salesforce, summarized in report and visualized via a dashboard that can be live updated, so that you can keep track of the quality of the service – at all times.
  • Internal communication can be made transparent and more efficient using Chatter. The functionality is much like Facebook for companies – an internal communication stream where you can follow groups, people etc. Using a train operator, you could assume that you followed each line to get updates when there are operational disruptions etc. Using Salesforce1, you can get this information all the way to the field personnel, so that they’re updated as well.

Think Big

You could say that with Salesforce, the sky (i.e. your imagination) is the limit. NJ Transit have chosen, among others, to create a twitter profile per line, through which they communicate service messages and generally they keep track of everything social using Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

You can build functionality into your own apps, that makes it possible for a passenger to take a photo of a problem and submit it, which in turn would create a case. This case would be routed to the right person, to ensure a fast resolution.


There are so many elements in Salesforce that favors High-Volume companies (within case handling). Especially within the passenger transport industry, where response time and customer experience is imperative. Service Cloud, Omni-Channel, Automation, Knowledge, Chatter, Marketing Cloud – all of this is leading within their own area. All of these are part of the tools leveraged to realize a 57% faster response time for NJ Transit and a reply within an hour for KLM.

High volume, a need for a 360 degree customer overview and an emphasis on security – if that’s true, then Salesforce most definitely makes sense.



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