Creating an ultimate travel experience
A Great North Eastern Railway case study

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Page 4: Vision

Great North Eastern Railway 4 Image 3The production of the mission statement and service vision can be a lengthy process and involves collecting ideas and holding discussions at all levels of the business. However, this is only the first stage. The vision then has to be applied to the day-to-day provision of on-train service.

GNER currently offers two levels of service. The company’s premium product is First Class. These customers are typically travelling on business, are frequent train users and tend to be predominantly male and over 30 years old. First Class represents over 20% of GNERÕs revenue. GNER aims to offer these customers a unique premium personal service. This might involve the passenger being welcomed at the train side by GNER personnel, being shown to their seat, complimentary newspapers, drinks and snacks, advice that their destination is next and assistance when leaving the train. This is the kind of service that has until recently been associated with air travel rather than train journeys. The emphasis is on providing the highest standards of service without being overly intrusive.

This means that GNER employees have to be prepared to accept new responsibilities including luggage management, cleaning and trying to maintain a hotel environment. They need to have a far greater knowledge of the product the company offers. For example, this might involve information on tickets, connections or timings, knowledge of the range of catering available and any other services offered on or off the train, such as First Class lounges. Above all, employees have to be flexible in the delivery of the First Class Service. This will involve what is called real time management. In the past, such services have been offered only on a process basis. This might have meant offering drinks served from a trolley every half-hour. The new service vision means that the customer has a drink when he or she wants it and it is up to the personnel on the train to adapt and make sure customers are accommodated.

GNER management can define the customer experience but must leave the person in charge on the train to ensure that this is delivered. This will require on-the-spot decision-making and the employees taking on much greater responsibility. The vast majority of GNER’s revenue comes from Standard Service passengers, many of whom travel for leisure purposes; visiting friends and relatives or taking short breaks and days out. Standard Service customers tend to be far more price-sensitive than First Class travellers. The emphasis in Standard Service is still very much on total quality. Customers need to feel welcomed, to be assisted with their luggage and directed to their seats. Snacks and drinks need to be offered both at their seat and in a buffet car. Travel information needs to be freely available and all possible assistance should be given to customers at all stages of their journey.

Great North Eastern Railway | Creating an ultimate travel experience