Latest Rail News

28.09.16

South West Trains opens first video customer contact centre

South West Trains passengers will be able to seek support in buying tickets via video screens at the first specialised customer contact centre in the UK, officially opened at Basingstoke today.

The centre is linked to video ticket machines, which have been installed at 91 stations since June.

They operate like normal ticket machines, but with a ‘Help Me’ button that the passenger can press for face-to-face contact with staff, who can give them advice and if necessary complete the transaction for them.

Arthur Pretorius, customer service director for South West Trains, said: “We're very proud that our video ticket machines are linked to a dedicated centre with specially trained staff who can offer face to face advice 24/7 and are able to purchase tickets for passengers on their behalf.”

The machines have already been used by 130,000 passengers and have been shortlisted for Innovation of the Year at the European Customer Service Awards.

“Passengers love the fact they don’t have to wait around for an answer and risk missing a train or later connection,” Pretorius said.

The machines are part of a £50m investment in improving South West Trains’ customer service. It will also include appointing 100 more customer ambassadors and providing 1,400 parking places.

Owen Griffith, managing director of transportation at Parkeon, which designed the machines, said: “Passengers are now enjoying the best of both worlds – easy access to the efficient collection and purchase of train tickets via the latest generation of ticket machines and a direct video connection to the new customer contact centre for real-time help and advice when they need it.”

Cllr Simon Bound, cabinet member for communities and community safety at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, who also attended the opening ceremony, said he was “extremely impressed” with the service provided.

A recent report by the ORR found repeated complaints from passengers that the information ticket machines provide is unclear and full of jargon.

Paul Maynard, the new rail minister, said recently that the ticketing system is “a circle we need to square” because dealing with the capacity demand on the network requires more tickets, but introducing them makes the ticketing system more complex.

(Image c. South West Trains)

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