Digital Engagement: The New Journey for Transit Agencies

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Patrick Mungovan - Also by this author

Next time you’re out in public and something interesting happens, look at the crowds. What will you see? People on their phones — taking pictures, commenting, informing others. You may have already seen the pictures — one from debut of Pope Benedict (top) and one of same event for Pope Francis (bottom).   

We are in the midst of a revolutionary change in how people communicate and share:

  •  82% of U.S adults own a cell phone*
  • 91% of U.S. adults now keep their smart phones within arm’s reach.*
  • More than one-half of mobile searches lead to sales*

Intuitively, you know this happens while passengers are in transit. The question is how you can use this change to make your riders more loyal and more satisfied.

Initiation, or the process of capturing customer data, is the first step in the digital engagement journey that continues through selection, conversion, and advocacy.  

A transit authority’s website, contact center tools and social media are all critical touch points for customers as they engage with transit agencies. At this stage in the relationship, the focus should be on informing and educating prospective customers so they have the incentive to provide their demographic information (e.g. email address, cell phone number, social media contact, etc.).  

An advantage transit agencies have in this process is a very captive audience. Expense, time and comfort are priorities for individuals making regular or long commutes. Using this time, to shake hands digitally — collecting email addresses, cell phone numbers, frequent destination and departure information, and lifestyle and interest attributes — can go a long way. This information can help transit agencies increase the frequency and loyalty of current riders as well as attracting new riders. In addition, this information can help you market concessions and take advantage of cross-marketing opportunities with business partners.  

Once an organization has successfully engaged the customer, the focus of the digital experience should shift toward guiding and influencing the customer. Agencies can now target increased revenue from existing travelers, improved cash-flow on regular riders and increased non-fare revenues. This can be done informally, through website content or more direct campaigns, such as using email to promote off-peak utilization, a text campaign to offer concession discounts or a social campaign to promote pre-pay and auto-refill methods of payment.  

Speeding and simplifying the purchase process is a vital step in the digital customer experience journey. A streamlined, efficient online purchase process is vital to preventing abandoned shopping carts. Further, the purchase process is another opportunity for engaging customers and capturing useful data. This process should also incorporate social media, helping to monitor and serve the majority of your riders who share opinions and thoughts on social networks.  

The final phase of the customer journey is the advocacy phase, during which satisfied customers become advocates for your brand. The opinions that people share about their experiences with a product or brand are a highly valued sources of information. A positive review can help draw in prospective customers, while a negative review can drive them away. Awareness of this reality is one of the most important dynamics of the mobile, social age.  

Getting Going on the Digital Engagement Journey
The good news is that the tools and techniques for modern effective communication are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Check out how leading transit authorities around the world are embracing their digital engagement journeys by visiting

About the Author
Patrick Mungovan, VP, leads strategy efforts for Oracle’s North America government, education, and healthcare sales unit. Oracle offers a comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications and platform services. For more information on this article, please contact [email protected]

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