Customer-centric. It’s a term often adopted by many organisations to talk about how they put the consumer at the heart of what they do. But whilst the intention is there, how close do organisations really get – particularly when it comes to understanding the behaviour and motivation of citizens in their choice of transport?

Well, not close enough according to Strategy Analytics in its article, ‘Lack of focus on consumer behaviour is slowing transition to sustainable mobility’ – particularly given we need to reduce car ownership and drive action that will help to meet our environmental targets. Traction, as the article mentions, is starting to happen but there’s still some way to go.

As the author points out, most journeys are short and habitual for which we’ll use our car or public transport, “Trying to disrupt this behaviour, particularly for journeys taken in our own cars will require significant investment in marketing and even before that, a better understanding of what mobility means to people.”

Customer expectations

Because that’s the thing. Citizens are used to being in the ‘driving seat’ when it comes to choosing how they travel – they have high expectations. Accessible, speedy and available whenever they want it, any alternative transport options have to be seamless.

According to, ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’, a UK Government report: “Rising customer expectations are driving passenger transport and delivery services that are increasingly affordable, convenient and personalised. Consumers expect online purchases to arrive promptly, and over 40% are willing to pay extra for same day delivery.”

When it comes to citizen-driven mobility we need to bear this in mind. The same report points out that UK car club membership ‘increased almost eight-fold between 2007 and 2017, to nearly 250,000 members’. Granted that 75% is in London but as the report states, there is growth elsewhere in the UK. In Scotland, for instance, 2016-2017 saw a 29% growth in membership.

Understanding behaviour

This shows people are prepared to use shared mobility and potentially other on-demand services in the right circumstances. But getting to the core of what drives this behaviour is essential. As pointed out in the earlier Strategy Analytics article, people will make ‘trade-offs’ in their decisions. This means they will ultimately only opt for a less convenient form of transport if what they’re getting in return is perceived to be worthwhile.

A great example of this is Directline’s free Shotgun app which incorporates gamification to encourage younger people to drive more safely in return for cheaper insurance. It’s these kinds of innovative ideas that need to be considered when creating mobility as a service offerings – they open up the possibility to both understand a user’s motivation and simultaneously foster change.

It’s also important to remember a person’s mobility choices aren’t fixed: how citizens travel will differ depending on, for example, circumstances or stage of life. Do they have children? Are they about to retire? Have they moved from an urban to a rural environment?

Of course, much of this also comes down to being able to track behaviour and providing a feedback mechanism to better understand people’s mobility needs – whether this is looking at the bigger picture or the finer details.

Data-driven MaaS

When mobility as a service aggregates all the available transport modes including on-demand as well as public transport, it provides details of all the best options in one place. It offers an end-to-end customer experience, delivering multimodal transport options and integrating the whole planning, payment and ticketing piece.

This is not only beneficial to the end-user but also to the providers given the data it may be possible to collect. If users could be allowed to offer feedback and rate services too this could provide even more intelligence as to the type of mobility services they require as well as the ability to hone existing options.

As pointed out by Sophia von Berg, co-founder of Germany’s Women in Mobility, when discussing her PhD research, “I was able to develop a data-driven process model that integrates the customer – as the co-creator of services – and enables the provider to adapt their offering and business model with the changing needs and preferences of its customers.”

This kind of thinking is invaluable for MaaS and also helps to provide the means to offer increased choice of multimodal services that solve real needs and are citizen-led rather than purely technology-led. It also enables the whole travel experience to be much more dynamic such as automated refunds for transport disruptions and the ability to assist at the point-of-use. As a result, users receive more personalised services, particularly where the broader context is taken into consideration such as the reason someone took a journey in the first place.

Targeted innovation

In addition, MaaS can also lead the way when it comes to understanding the different incentives people value to meet the obligations required of governments to reduce congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.

If users can see the quantifiable health, financial or environmental benefits then they are more likely to consider the decisions they make. This could include how much they will save compared to using their car for the same journey (or CO2 for environmentally motivated people), and the health benefits from active travel – particularly if integrated with a fitness tracker. The bottom line is MaaS can provide valuable data that organisations can act upon.

An example pointed out in EY research, “When citizens are driving mobility, what’s the role of the city?” shows how Sydney in Australia, “has reinvented the transit experience for riders by providing real-time information and using analytics to improve performance. The city has also used behavioral economics to improve the citizen experience – for example, by allowing commuters to pay through a smartphone app.”

Other examples cited include the use of real-time data and analytics to understand which routes are effective in Jakarta – and then use that to ‘improve performance and passenger satisfaction’. In Columbia, integration of a cable car system with other modes of transport allow citizens to work in the city centre.

The key is to provide a system that is connected, sustainable and well-optimised, offering the best experience and ensuring our built environments remain liveable. Paying closer attention to behaviour, feedback and real needs – and acting on that intelligence where it is financially and socially viable to do so – will help to build better relationships with the customer.

At SkedGo, we develop MaaS solutions for organisations that help to support these aims. From bringing together a range of transport providers (including active travel) in one app to collating data that can lead to better transport management decisions, we believe tools such as these can help to shape future mobility offerings to the benefit of everyone and lead to smarter ways to travel.

Image courtesy of Tony from Pexels

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