As our Vision makes clear, customers are at the heart of our business. This is as it should be: we are a public transport company. But delivering against this Value also shapes the types of services we operate. It has not always been true that public transport companies operated services their passengers wanted. Rather, there was a culture in some places of running the services the operator found most convenient and customer demand was an afterthought.
This is why it is particularly pleasing that our businesses have again demonstrated their industry-leading customer service credentials in the year. Both our UK bus business and ALSA have achieved record customer satisfaction scores in 2017. UK bus’ customer satisfaction score of 87% in the independent Transport Focus survey was up 1% year-on-year and equalled their best-ever result. ALSA’s 7.4 out of 10 was up 4.8% year-on-year and a new record. ALSA also won the IZO ‘Best Customer Experience for the Transport Industry’ award, the largest satisfaction survey conducted in Spain.
North America has now consistently delivered customer satisfaction scores above 90% for many years; this year it achieved 91.2%. Our UK coach business’ customer satisfaction score was up three percent to 86%, with the independent Temkin Group Net Promoter Score index ranking National Express fourth in its select group of companies.
We are also investing to further modernise our services for our customers’ benefit. We have started to roll out the largest contactless ticketing network in the UK, outside of London: our West Midlands bus services will have this system fully in place in April. It is clear that a significant – and growing – number of passengers prefer these new methods of payment compared to the correct cash fare required previously. In the last year alone, the number of journeys made using an m-Ticket on one of our West Midlands buses went from virtually zero to 10% by the end of 2017.
We are also investing in our websites and customer apps. www.nationalexpress.com is now the highest placed land transportation company website on Google’s crucial optimisation score ranking system. During 2017, we launched new apps in: North American transit, paratransit and school bus; ALSA; and the UK coach business. We will be launching new apps across many of our other businesses in 2018. Again, this nimbleness and constant review of and investment in the effectiveness of our services is at the heart of our Vision and Values as a company.