Keep customer needs at the heart of your strategy to reap rewards

Christopher Macleod, marketing director, TfL
Christopher Macleod, marketing director, TfL

Until transporter rooms become a reality (I'm sure Google is working on it), transport is going to remain profoundly analogue, writes Christopher Macleod, marketing director at Transport for London.

But while reliable and consistent service will always be at the heart of any transport business, good information also has a huge part to play, helping people plan journeys, get service-status updates and navigate the occasional delay. It can also help in avoiding travel "hot spots", as we saw during last summer’s Olympic Games in London.

The scope to provide better information is being facilitated by the rapid growth in digital channels and devices; 58% of Londoners now have a smartphone – checking them up to 150 times a day, apparently.

At TfL, we’re responding with a digital strategy that focuses on mobile – our website now has 20m visits a month, with mobile likely to overtake desktop inside the year – and is multichannel, using the full range of digital services to provide customers with the best possible experience. So, for example, our number of Twitter followers has risen to 500,000 from a standing start in 2012 and we have brought wi-fi to 120 Tube stations.

What have we learned rolling out this programme? One thing that isn’t new is to always keep customer needs and behaviour as your reference point. It’s too easy with new technology to get seduced by features that aren’t really needed or can’t eventually be delivered. But you can learn from feedback; which is why we’ve just launched our new website in a beta version first (take a look at

Providing information openly and in easily accessible forms is improving how people view us, with our reputation on the up.

Value for money is important, so we look for all developments to cut costs while improving service. We’ve been particularly encouraged by the results of our "open data" policy, where we make available for free a wide range of data such as Tube, bus and roads status for developer and media use, improving our reach and saving us development costs. There is now a community of 5000 developers distributing our information and launching scores of "TfL-powered" apps.

But the pressure to match the best in customer service never stops. So we’ll continue to roll out new features enabling greater personalisation and making us easier to do business with. Providing all this information openly and in easily accessible forms is improving how people view us, with our reputation on the up.

Which only leaves me to say: "Beam me up, Scotty".


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer