Transport for London (TfL) has undertaken a body of research to better understand how customers spend their time on journeys on the network.
The findings highlight the rise of the ‘me-time’ commuter, and have helped TfL to re-evaluate how it approaches customer satisfaction.
Speaking at yesterday’s MRS Customer Summit in London, TfL’s research and insight manager Ian Pring gave an overview of the findings and outlined the role that the insights have played in redefining how the transport body thinks about its customers, helping it evolve from a transport business to “a customer service business that does transport”.
He said: “Part of our job is to make people feel more of an emotional relationship with what we do. To create a very strong brand, we have to think way beyond the paradigms which were in play when the transport business first came to be.”
While the phenomenon of people using their commutes for ‘me-time’ isn’t exactly new, in the last couple of years it has become more important for TfL, Pring said. “It has always been there but we’ve just started to uncover it because of a different way of thinking about customers. We think there’s a lot more going on when people are going from one place to another.”
The research emerged from a question he was asked two and a half years ago by the head of customer strategy for the underground – do customers make use of their travel time or is it a disutility?
The company undertook desk research, quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic work, which uncovered some insights around the concept of time from a customer perspective.
According to the research, 74% of commuters perceived their journey to be worthwhile, and 69% said it was productive.
These findings runs contrary to the transport industry’s traditional preconception that journey time is a disutility, or inconvenience. But while over half of customers surveyed (53%) still wished they could eradicate journeys altogether, 47% said they would miss it if they did not have to travel because they feel the time is worthwhile.