Operated by BAA, Heathrow Express carries an average of 15,000 passengers every day and over 30 million people have travelled on the service since its launch in 1998.
One of the biggest milestones in the history of Heathrow Express was the opening of Terminal 5 and their new station beneath the terminal.
As part of British Airports Authority, Heathrow Express is benchmarked and measured on a quality service measure (QSM) every two months, which provides customer feedback to the Board as part of a balanced scorecard approach to measuring the business.
Whilst in many areas of the business Heathrow Express scores exceptionally well on the QSM measures, the quality of information provided to customers has remained stubbornly low by comparison. Whilst Heathrow Express was carrying out a number of major projects in pursuit of its vision and mission statements and the development of business opportunities such as Heathrow Connect and Terminal 5, the customer information project was seen as a real priority to improve the consistency of customer information across the business.
After an initial fact find and route cause analysis, it was realised that to create consistent high quality customer information required a cross-functional project spanning most parts of the business. A project was designed to put in place the necessary processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities, plus the physical supporting and technical infrastructure to support a newer, more consistent way of working.
Customer Consulting Limited, who were involved in the original fact find and root cause analysis, were asked to design and project manage the customer information project using a joint team approach with Heathrow Expresses’ own staff. A joint project team was set up with a steering team, a joint project management team and subject matter experts from Heathrow Express, with specialist process mapping and change management experience from Customer Consulting.
The project delivered a variety of different things across the business as listed below:
- New announcements on train and at station
- New HECR processes
- New procedures for staff
- Key performance indicators applicable to each function (customer facing and support functions)
- Measurement of performance against procedure KPIs
- Monthly MI for customer information performance
- New bespoke TID
- Next Train Count Down at CTA/T4 operated by HECR
- Next Train Count Down at Paddington
- New signage on trains to indicate faults (toilets, air-conditioning etc)
- Personal issue announcement cards for all staff
- Staff booklet highlighting the changes to look out for at launch
- New stands for information at Paddington and Heathrow (free standing and wall mounted)
- The customer information booklet
- A number of changes to increase staff presence on platforms and their pro-activity.
Although some elements of the project were delayed due to planning difficulties with the Council and/or Network Rail, the vast majority of the project went live on 5th March 2007. The following QSM score which was gathered and released at the end of March, showed a 22% increase in the quality of information score, and the project was deemed a real success. Not only do Heathrow Express have many more robust processes but also they have a measurement process and pack that allows for monitoring of performance and continuous improvement of weak areas.