Roll-out of ‘virtual ticket agents’ on Greater Anglia ticket machines makes award short-list
The innovation made the short-list in the ‘Most innovative customer serving operator’ Award at last night’s Transport Ticketing Awards held in London.
In December, Greater Anglia became the first train operator in England to roll out ViTA “virtual ticket agents” across all its existing ticket machines, so that passengers can connect to a real person - via an audio link - who can offer help whilst they buy their train tickets and help them find the best fares.
196 Scheidt & Bachmann ticket machines at stations across the Greater Anglia network have been upgraded with a speaker and microphone, together with software and application updates and connected to a central in-house call centre, staffed by 13 Greater Anglia ticket sellers, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For anyone who needs help on how to use the ticket machine, or is unsure of which ticket to buy, they can now simply press the ‘Ticket Assistance’ button on the machine to be connected to a call centre agent.
A two-way audio connection will be established so that the customer and ticket agent can talk. The ticket agent can then give advice and information, or if required, can remotely control the machine on behalf of the customer, with the exception of the card payment screen.
Andrew Goodrum, Greater Anglia’s Customer Service Director, commented: “We’re pleased to have been recognised for this customer-focused innovation. We hope that being able to connect straight to a friendly voice who can help will result in ticket machines being used more, helping to reduce queuing time at ticket offices and offer customers a better level of customer service, enabling them to buy with ease and confidence.”
Jessica U, Customer Account Manager at Scheidt & Bachmann UK Ltd added: “Abellio is an important customer for Scheidt & Bachmann and we were delighted to be selected as a TVM supplier to Greater Anglia a couple of years ago. Now we are thrilled to be selected as a finalist alongside our friends from Greater Anglia who have looked to us to provide excellent ticketing hardware as they invest in rail retailing and improve customer service.”
“Ticket vending machines are frequently in the public eye and right from the moment we started working together Greater Anglia set us the challenge of making it easier for the passenger to get help with their ticket purchase when they need it. ViTA- our Virtual Ticket Agent does exactly that. It provides a simple to use interface for the passenger that uses minimal hardware and behind the scenes a powerful back end solution that makes it easy to handle calls.