TransPennine Express had the objective of increasing an already high employee engagement score and the employee comms platform was deployed in order to help achieve this.
TransPennine Express (TPE) is a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup running intercity train services linking key cities and major towns in the North and Scotland. TPE run around 238 services daily, serve 83 stations (of which 19 are directly managed by them) and carry an average of 61,000 customers every day.
TPE directly employs 1100 staﬀ (referred to as colleagues). The company also has a number of key contractors such as cleaning and catering services whose staﬀ clearly have a signiﬁcant direct impact on customer experience. TPE’s vision is to take the North further by bringing people, businesses and cities closer together and helping the economy grow. TPE has embarked on an ambitious transformation programme including an investment of more than £500 million over the next four years. There are ﬁve key areas of the transformation plan namely customer experience, transformation and growth, people and sustainability, health and safety and business management.
"TPE has the objective of increasing an already high employee engagement score by 9 percentage points and ‘The Loop’ app is one of the key initiatives being deployed in order to help achieve this."
"I wanted the app to be really simple to use, which it is."
TPE recognise that during periods of signiﬁcant change it is vital to communicate with all staﬀ on a frequent basis. In the past, TPE have relied heavily on email as the primary communication mechanism. However, not all staﬀ have company email addresses, for example, the 300 train drivers, and some share email addresses, for example, the station staﬀ . transformation plan namely customer experience, transformation and growth, people and sustainability, health and safety and business management. Train conductors, who are one of the key target audiences for retail information such as ticket special oﬀers etc, are inundated with operational emails from central control and as a result, important promotional and safety messages don’t always get read.
One of the key criteria in selecting Thrive for the project was that it must be easy to update the content and according to Catherine Unsworth, TPE Internal Communications Manager, this has proven to be the case. “I wanted it to be really simple to use, which it is”, commented Catherine. The app was launched in April 2016 coincident with the start of the new franchise. Front line staﬀ were given smart phones pre-loaded with the app although a lot of TPE colleagues had already downloaded the app on to their own personal phones as well. The app is a blend of news items and some simple, useful tools to help staﬀ do their job on a daily basis. For example, TPE run services to and from Manchester Airport but many passengers don’t know which terminal they should be headed for on arrival. The app includes a link to a website so that staﬀ can direct passengers to the right terminal based on their ﬂight number. There are also links to a journey planner, so that if there is some disruption passengers can be given the appropriate advice.
From a learning tools perspective, TPE are trialing usage of the app to include a two minute automated video walk through on how to use the new conductor ticketing machines currently being rolled out. Because The Loop is a native app, the video doesn’t require an internet connection to be accessed and therefore can act as a refresher as and when it is needed.
The use of the app has grown organically such that there are now around 500 regular users. Latest news snippets are published regularly and each month an innovative sixty second video is published via the app which summarises progress on each of the ﬁve key elements of the transformation plan. Push notiﬁcations are used once or twice per week to encourage employees to seek out sections of the app as well as highlighting new “news items” and important safety notices.