National Rail Enquiries (NRE) is the definitive source of information for all passenger services on the national rail network in England, Scotland and Wales. It handles around 2.9 million journey enquiries every day, across nationalrail.co.uk, apps, SMS and its 08457 48 49 50 live operator contact centre. It is in fact eth busiest phone number in the UK.
To handle this vast level of interactions, NRE is using Content Guru, as well as to deliver TrainTracker Text, an automated service that uses keyword recognition technology to give customers access to live journey info via SMS.
The TrainTracker Text service uses custom integration to enable Content Guru’s cloud-based storm communications platform, which processes the inbound and outbound texts, to leverage information from NRE’s systems that provide real-time travel information and calculate the optimum route between stations.
If the customer request involves just one railway station, storm passes it, together with authentication details, to the NRE Live Departure Board. If the request involves more than one station it is passed to the NRE Online Journey Planner. In each case, the NRE system authenticates the request before enabling storm to access the appropriate resource. The request is passed by storm via a simple internet request using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
The service has several personalisation features including:
• Free text-backs to callers in the event of ambiguity (e.g. if the customer text states ‘Heathrow’, storm will text the customer to ask ‘what terminal?’)
• Intelligent decision-making on spell-checking (e.g. if the customer text gives the station as ‘Brack’, storm will search previous requests from the customer to interpret this as ‘Bracknell’ and not, say, ‘Brackley’)
• Customers calling into the service can request that journey information is either read back to them by phone or texted to their mobile phone
Thanks to the TrainTracker Text service and storm IVR, rail passengers can access journey information quickly and reliably – without having to wait for a live operator. The SMS service alone currently handles thousands of enquiries every day with an accuracy rate of 95%+.
Alastair Page, Operations Manager, National Rail Enquiries (NRE) explains: “The flexibility of the storm platform has enabled us to create new self-service user interfaces rapidly and intuitively, saving us a vast amount of development time and cost. In addition, the ability of the platform to deliver real-time information means we can be more responsive to changing patterns of contacts, helping to refine and adapt our TrainTracker service to current demand. We anticipate additional benefits going forward as we migrate more of our estate onto storm.”