Deep customer insight creates loyalty and growth in the Danish metro

Since 2010, travelers in Copenhagen have become more loyal towards the Danish underground system, and the metro has experienced massive passenger growth. The positive results can largely be explained by a commercial strategy based on an extensive study of transport and travel habits in Copenhagen.

They are used to a lot of digging. But in the last few years, Metroselskabet - the company behind the Copenhagen subway system – has not just been using the big shovel when establishing new stations. By digging deeper into passenger habits and experiences in an extensive analysis performed by Ramboll Management Consulting, the company has gained valuable insights into customer behaviour. This analysis includes initiatives that will be crucial to enhancing the metro’s attractiveness and create a foundation for future growth.   

In the past five years, the metro has experienced major growth in passengers from 50 million in 2009 to 57 million in 2014. Although impressive, passenger growth is not the only important success factor. Measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty are other significant dimensions.

On this scale, 96% of the customers considered themselves either satisfied or very satisfied. From 2010 to 2014, the share of customers who would recommend the metro to others has increased from 44% to 52%. And finally, the NPS-score improved by 9 percentage points, from 21 to 30. In other words, the customers have become more loyal.

- I’m pleased that all the preparations and the many initiatives towards passenger growth and loyalty seem to have paid off. While we’re moving in the right direction, we are also fully aware that we need to work hard if we want to maintain and improve the metro’s attractiveness, says Maj Trige Andersen, Commercial Development Manager with responsibility for product development and new services at Metroselskabet.

Ambitious goal

In 2010, Metroselskabet set an ambitious goal: By 2015, it wanted a 15% increase in passengers traveling by metro.

To execute such an ambition requires more than just trusting your gut. This is why Metroselskabet together with Ramboll Management Consulting initiated a customer analysis to identify current and potential metro users.  

- We set the bar high when we decided to pursue a 15% increase in passengers. To make sure the goal was realistic, we needed to know more about the customers’ intentions, including their reasons not to use the metro as this would enable us to make it more attractive and also get input for future positioning, says Maj Trige Andersen. 

To translate this ambitious goal into specific and tangible actions, Ramboll developed a Goal Model which is based on customer needs and attitudes as driving forces behind a motivated and accelerated use of the metro.

Systematic user segmentation

Through user surveys and focus groups about needs, attitudes and behaviour, the customer analysis highlighted reliable operation, travel time and direct connections as the three most determining factors for the passengers’ decision to ride the metro. And even though the customers ranked the metro high on all three criteria, the results were still subject to contemplation, especially as the perceived price was higher than the actual value. 

- Our study, and the insight we collected about customer experience, made it possible to characterise the passengers in different segments. We did this by visualising the different types of passengers and their overall perception towards the metro by using a so-called Loyalty Matrix. We divided everyone from non-users to low, medium and high frequency users into the Matrix, based on their experienced attractiveness of the metro and the strength of their relationship with it, says Peter Jensen, Market Manager in Ramboll Management Consulting.

From insight to action

To convert this new and relatively complex knowledge into concrete actions, the analysis pinpointed initiatives that could break down barriers and also have the greatest potential effect on travel activity.

- The knowledge we gained about needs, attitudes and behaviour made it possible to develop a model that could estimate the commercial effects of a number of potential efforts. The calculations effectively contributed to developing the commercial strategy. From that point, Metroselskabet could develop and carry out specific actions with a provable increase in metro journeys, Peter Jensen elaborates.

The recommendations included cheaper tickets, more visible metro stations and better links between car, bicycle and metro. Also, a number of partner interviews revealed a great potential in strategic partnerships.

- With the customer analysis as our action-oriented foundation, we’ve entered partnerships with the National Aquarium Denmark and Wonderful Copenhagen, a Danish tourism network, says Maj Trige Andersen. 

In the face of this positive development, the humorous observer might suggest that the Metro is on track. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement in this fourth and final year of the current strategy period.

The next important step will be a customer analysis that will help clarify the passengers’ entire customer journey throughout the metro.


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