Red Funnel video - transcript
Red Funnel - Enhancing customer service with Twittering ferries
Red Funnel operates nearly 14 thousand vehicle ferry sailings and 23 thousand RedJet passenger sailings every year. The predictability of ferry movements and customer service is essential to the success of their operation.
Red Funnel has, over the last few years, made a number of improvements to customer service. The focus for the business is very much about creating the customer journey. One area that really lacked for us was the ability to communicate with customers when there happens to be a delay. And it was an area we felt that we really lacked in, and an area that we really wanted to improve.
So this all began a couple of years ago. It was a foggy morning on the Solent and I arrived at the ferry terminal, hoping to catch the ferry to work. And because of the fog, there were no ferries. I thought, hmm, there must be a way of solving this using Smarter Planet technologies: Instrumented, Interconnected, Intelligent. So I looked around for some data to find out where the ferries were. With that data, I was able to find out where each of the ferries was by name: RedJet 3, RedJet 4, RedJet 5, and so on, and then generate a message which was sent to twitter.
I developed this solution myself, and after a while I contacted Red Funnel and they were very excited because they'd been hoping to make use of Social Media to help their customer relations. So I showed up with a ready-made solution which they were delighted about. So they became an IBM customer and we have an ongoing business relationship now.
We were very keen on the idea - thought it was a great way of communicating with our customers. Allowing our customers basically to see what time the ferry had departed so they could plan their schedule around it.
What we then moved to was some displays that you'll see around the ferry terminal, which show a picture on a map showing where the ferries are, and they move in real-time, so you can see when the ferries are getting nearer to the port. And in the future you can imagine we might link up with commercial customers who have got bookings on particular ferries so they could get a text message if their ferry is, say, running 20 minutes late: they might want to make one or two other collections and deliveries before they show up at the ferry terminal
Another thing we've brought in is the introduction of new digital signage at all the terminals. These will carry the information from the twitter feeds so we are able then to update passengers who are waiting in the terminals with the different times that the vessels are coming in.
We can make use of the data for lots of different things. One of the things we've looked at is integrating with timetable data, so that we can see not only that the ferries are arriving or leaving, but that it's running 3 minutes late, or 4 miniutes late or something.
So thinking further into Smarter Cities you might imagine an integrated transport system where you've got buses, trains, ferries all linked together with their information so when I set out from my house by bus and then ferry and then train, a little agent might be looking out for the progress of my journey and it might notice that because the ferry was late, I'm going to miss my connection at Southampton on the train, and therefore it might say if you get this different train from a different platform and change here then you'll only arrive in London 10 minutes late. So really it's a whole integrated system that's making my life eaier, and much more efficient
The future of this: we are currently looking at a mobile-optimised web site so that people can look at these twitter feeds all integrated into a Red-Funnel branded site that's suitable for a smartphone or an iPhone.
We've also looked at some work in 3D immersive worlds where we take a virtual Isle of Wight and a virtual Solent and have these little ferries bobbing backwards and forwards, in real-time, as the real ferries are moving around in the real world.
By analysing information gathered from on-board sensors, IBM has helped Red Funnel to provide tremendous value to their customers.
There are a number of technologies underpinning all this. One of the interesting things about Smarter Planet solutions is they typically together a portfolio of products into one solution. That's really the great thing about IBM is that we can bring all our technologies to bear on a particular solution.
The business relationship with IBM has been superb. To be honest they've gone above and beyond what we would have expected. From initial discussions about the twitter feed, it's been more a question of IBM coming back to us with a whole host of ideas without us even discussing them in the first place. It was more of a "we can provide you with a solution" to "this is how we can make it work for you". Having a real true understanding of the business, they were able to come back with some really useful solutions for our customers.