Virtual ticket agents help Greater Anglia passengers at ticket machines

Monday, 11 December 2017

A video is available here:

Rail passengers in East Anglia who have a query while using a ticket machine can now press a button which will put them straight through to a real person who can help them buy tickets and find the best fares.

Greater Anglia is the first train operator in England to roll out the ViTA “virtual ticket agents” across all its existing ticket machines, so that passengers can connect to a real person - via an audio link - who can offer help whilst they buy their train tickets.

196 Scheidt & Bachmann ticket machines at stations across the Greater Anglia network have been upgraded with a speaker and microphone, together with software and application updates and connected to a central in-house call centre, staffed by 13 Greater Anglia ticket sellers in Essex, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For anyone who needs help on how to use the ticket machine, or is unsure of which ticket to buy, they can now simply press the ‘Ticket Assistance’ button on the machine to be connected to a call centre agent.

A two-way audio connection will be established so that the customer and ticket agent can talk. The ticket agent can then give advice and information, or if required, can remotely control the machine on behalf of the customer (with the exception of the card payment screen).

Greater Anglia’s initial pilot phase of the machines was carried out from 8 September to 29 October 2017, and received over 8,000 calls, 250 per day on average. 30% of these came from London Liverpool Street station. There will now be a 12-week testing phase as the service beds in across all Greater Anglia’s ticket machines.

Andrew Goodrum, Greater Anglia’s Customer Service Director, commented: “We know that customers sometimes feel apprehensive about buying tickets from a machine as they are unsure of how it works or which is the best ticket for their journey, so being able to connect straight to a friendly voice who can help will really improve the service we offer. We hope it will result in ticket machines being used more, helping to reduce queuing time at ticket offices and offering customers a better level of customer service, enabling them to buy with ease and confidence.”

Jessica U, Customer Account Manager at Scheidt & Bachmann UK Ltd added: “We are delighted that ViTA is a success. Our goal was to offer our customers a simple product to improve customer support at unattended stations and reduce queues at busier stations; not just for new machines but also for the existing fleet. We are proud to work with Greater Anglia to provide this customer benefit.”