Didn’t you read the mail? Your train has been cancelled

South West Trains has a problem, their trains do not always run on time. They try to reduce the impact on their cusotmers by offering email alerts about delays and cancellations. However, there is problem with the choice of technology, few people are in front of their computer 15 minutes before they get on a train so it is the wrong technology for the problem – the solution does not help people to avoid arriving at the station just to see the train has been cancelled.

A much more obvious choice would be to set-up a service that notify customers by SMS – almost every passenger carry a mobile phone  (I know some phones can read emails too). Setting up a service where customer could specify routes they use and what time they they normal travel shouldn’t be difficult and it would ensure only relevant SMS were received.

Twitter is increasing becoming a tool used for latest information so South West Trains should consider using service to notify about delays.

South West Trains email service does not just give alerts about service interuptions but is also used for promotion. This further reduce the usefulness of the service – wrong technology and combining alerts and promtion means fewer sign up for alerts

1) Some people can’t read email just before the head off to the station and therefor doesn’t get the alerts.
2) Some people will not sign up for the service because they don’t want to receive promotions from South West Trains.

The outcome is Sout West Trains offer a poor customer service by not using the right technology to provide a good user experience.


I have heard South West Trains give the excuse for not providing an SMS service, that National Rail offer the service (not a free service), however I would expect an organisation that claim to be customer focused not just to say you can pay somebody else for informing you when we don’t deliver what you have paid for.

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