While the phrase ‘owning the customer’ is an odd one, it’s difficult to argue with the sentiment from a  commercial perspective. The opportunity to build a direct relationship with a customer is how all good businesses foster trust and build loyalty over the long term – with the aim of protecting and growing revenues. Public transport is no different.

Why bother creating and maintaining your own digital presence when Google and others do such a good job? They already provide the journey plans and real-time information that your customers need to access your services. Is there any point in investing in doing this all over again yourself?

Strategically it makes sense to release open data allowing others to do this. Free advertising is rarely a bad thing. But handing over those functions completely where you don’t already have a great digital presence yourself is a slippery slope towards becoming a commodity. Value-based pricing opportunity does not exist in commodity land. 

Building your brand and becoming the service provider of choice means being who a customer interacts with every day. If that’s Google then every time a commute, school run, shopping trip or whatever other journey is planned, then Google is the business that your customers are building a relationship with.

Being the best source of information and providing options that others do not. Making it easy to access tickets on the same app used to plan the journey. Providing a direct channel to someone who can help, when something goes wrong. That is how you provide value and earn your place on a home screen that’s competing for space with so many others.

In its simplest form, an app is a window into an organisation’s products and services. It’s a shop front, if you like, being carried around on every single customer device. It’s difficult to argue that a presence on mobile isn’t needed. In public transport, it’s the main way that customers find out what’s happening in real-time; how to get somewhere, whether there’s a delay or disruption to the service or a change to a timetable. It’s also an easy way to buy or renew a ticket so that when the bus arrives you can get on without having to slow the driver, and everyone else on board, down. 

If you’re checking everything via the app before you board and in many cases before you’ve even reached the stop, then the app is also your touchpoint to the brand. When an app experience is enjoyable and passes “the toothbrush test” (used more than twice a day), it becomes an integral part of our lives. 

The way it works and the experience you have using it reflects on the organisation itself. If the experience is poor, is slow to load or worse, crashes completely, then it’s not the app customers are annoyed by – it’s the business. In the busy world of 2019, we have very little patience left and our expectations of technology are sky-high. 

Don’t sacrifice your identity and your opportunities by adopting a faceless strategy. Make sure your products and services are in as many apps and websites as possible but it’s essential to own your future with an app that becomes an integral part of the daily routines of your customers. 

It’s easier than ever to provide a great app experience to your customers. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how Passenger can help you.

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