Rail passenger complaints statistics: social media still doesn’t make the cut

5th March 2019

According to the latest statistical release from the ORR on passenger rail service complaints, 2018-19 Q2 has seen an increase in complaints in comparison to the same quarter last year. For franchised operators, the number of complaints per 100,000 journeys has increased by 16.1%. For non-franchised operators, the increase is 47.3%.

Long term, there’s been an overall decrease in the number of complaints over the past two decades. The ORR gives possible reasons for this as an overall improvement of punctuality of trains, and an improvement in standardising definitions and data across operators. That said, punctuality and reliability is comfortably the most complained about topic, and we already know how passengers are currently feeling about tickets.

The ORR define a complaint as, “Any expression of dissatisfaction by a customer or potential customer about service delivery, or about company or industry policy.”  Despite the impact that social media has had on customer experience and how businesses operate (there are around 13.6 million users on twitter alone), complaints data from the ORR excludes comments made on social media from statistics.

Why does social media data not make it into the complaints statistics?

While it’s a long-term goal for the ORR to be able to include this information, the way that social media use varies between operators makes it difficult to record and standardise data. In 2015, some operators were using Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but the only platform that had been adopted by all franchised operators was Twitter. Within this one platform alone, there’s a huge variation in how proactive and reactive operators are on these platforms, and the type of content posted is likely to illicit a wide variety of customer responses. In other words, it’s difficult to find a consistent measure.

What does this mean for operators?

The reality is, social media can be a really great way to get an insight into your passengers and their experience. It could be argued that social media makes it easier to complain than going through the more traditional channels of telephone, email or letter. It probably does, and that’s a good thing; if it’s harder to make a complaint, you’ll only get the serious complaints. The mildly unhappy passengers will just never surface. If there’s even just one complaint for every 100,000 journeys, ultimately you don’t know if the other 99,999 thought your service was wonderful or woeful, but not quite woeful enough to make a formal complaint about it. You could be using social media as a gateway to understanding what passengers are unhappy about before they turn into numerous serious complaints.

How can operators understand customers through social media?

Social listening helps you understand what your customers are saying about you. Through the right CRM system, you can respond to conversations, turn social conversations into support cases, monitor sentiment and more. The CRM system will collect and analyse data and identify trends, helping you understand more about what you’re doing right and address potential issues before they become more serious. Understanding your passengers helps you stay ahead of complaints before the ones coming through the traditional channels start to creep up. And as social media is continuing to grow and evolve, it’s not a space you can afford to ignore.

Ready to find out more about how the right CRM system can help you with social engagement and passenger insight? You can contact us here.

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