IRC 2017 INTERVIEW Bill Hopkins of The Trainline on logistics
Ahead of this year's InternetRetailing and eDelivery conferences, we're hearing from some of the key speakers who are taking part.
Today the spotlight is on Bill Hopkins, executive director operations and logistics at The Trainline. eDelivery's Liz Morrell caught up with him to find out more.eDelivery: Describe your role at The Trainline and how logistics and delivery is important to you? Bill Hopkins, executive director operations and logistics at TheTrainline:
Part of my role at Trainline is being responsible for customer service, back office, fulfilment and payments. To some, this may be labelled “logistics” but to me, these are core levers in providing a first-class customer experience i.e. the framework that enables our customers to easily buy their ticket, have it delivered to their smartphone and travel seamlessly by rail. Our mission at Trainline is to make train travel more accessible to people all over the world by making it as simple and hassle-free as possible.ED: How does your company encourage new talent into the logistics industry? BH:
Trainline is a pioneering technology company – we are constantly innovating to make train travel as simple and hassle-free as possible. We solve problems for our customers across Europe – that’s what we are motivated by and what attracts great talent to our organisation. We have more than 500 people and 48 nationalities at Trainline all striving to achieve that goal. Nobody operates in silos, we always put the customer at the heart of everything and look for talent who want to join us on this journey.ED: How has the role changed in recent years? BH:
In the UK, the biggest change in the last few years has been the advent of the mobile ticket. When our business first started, we would send customers their tickets by post, we then moved to provide our customers with reference numbers which enabled them to pick up their tickets at stations.
Now, for a large percentage of our customers, we are able to send a mobile ticket straight to their smartphone, and are helping the industry meet the government’s target of 100% UK mobile ticket availability by the end of 2018.
We still offer customers the option of receiving their tickets by post or at the station but our customers are clearly seeing mobile ticket as a better way to fulfil their journey. This is light years from having to purchase your ticket weeks in advance or even from having to arrive at the station 20 minutes early to queue and collect a ticket so that you don’t miss your train. For our customers, this is a hugely positive change. For our team, it means we can spend more time proactively striving to give great experiences for our customers and solving their problems, rather than processing or fielding questions on tickets.
And in 2015, we expanded into Europe and now sell tickets worldwide on behalf of 87 train companies, helping our customers make more than 125,000 journeys every day in and across 24 countries. We are a one-stop shop for rail travel, bringing together major train companies onto one platform, providing our customers with a complete set of travel options and offering unique, AI driven travel information and recommendations to help our customers stay one step ahead. We have 45m+ visitors to our platforms each month and 100+ journeys booked every minute.ED: Do students have enough understanding of the logistics industry or could more be done to attract them in? BH:
I don’t believe students look at organisations in that way. I believe that they look at organisations which are exciting to work for, and they tend to be the ones with a clear mission and vision that are doing something tangible to improve the customer experience. I believe that we are clearly doing that at Trainline.ED: What new skills do those in the industry have? BH:
They’re problem solvers, willing to challenge existing models and blaze new trails. We need people who understand the real needs of a customer and help to resolve that, in any department.ED: How can outdated views of a role in the logistics industry be tackled? BH:
By stopping people thinking as logistics as separate to the customer experience. For the customer, the purchase and receipt of a product are all part of the same experience – not two different parts. Continuously improving digital solutions for customers, as we do at Trainline, does in my view help to remove that separation.The eDelivery Conference and InternetRetailing Conference take place on October 5, at the Novotel, Hammersmith, London. One pass gives entry to both events. For further information on the conferences, and to register for your delegate pass, visit www.internetretailingconference.com.