Brittany Ferries - Putting customers first for online success

Brittany Ferries, a leading car ferry operator, has seen significant improvements in its online customer experience and bookings. This is due to the work they have done to understand their customers, engage with them, optimise their website and drive traffic to their site. This has resulted in an increase in bookings, plus recognition by Which? Magazine readers who voted them winners of the "cross channel customer satisfaction" survey.

Leading car ferry operator

Operating from ten European ports, Brittany Ferries transport 2.7 million passengers, 800,000 cars and 195,000 freight vehicles every year. The company is also a leading supplier of ferry-inclusive motoring holidays to France and Spain. Brittany Ferries has the most modern fleet on the channel, with ferries that are more like cruise ships and offer a uniquely French style of onboard experience. Customers say they love travelling with Brittany Ferries and describe the experiences as: "superb, like a mini cruise, with wonderful food and facilities".1

Brittany Ferries ship Consistent customer experience

The Brittany Ferries marketing team are always looking at ways to enrich customer experience. They put their customers at the heart of their business model and work towards creating a consistent brand experience across all communication channels. This has led to a drive to develop an integrated strategy with the website at the centre.

Additionally the team are always looking for ways to add value for their customers and make improvements to the booking process, with the goal of ultimately selling more crossings and holidays.

Digital solution for customer engagement

Brittany Ferries selected GOSS Interactive to build and launch their website and online booking system in 2000. The website experienced a strong growth period and they recognised that by improving and driving traffic to it (channel shift), they could make efficiency savings and deliver a better customer experience and hence deliver an even better level of service. Since then the two companies have worked on a continuous development programme for the website, starting with putting common transactions online and moving to more involved ones. This has focused efforts on providing an even stronger user experience and ensuring a higher level of visitor conversion to bookings.

Matt Randle, Internet Services Manager, Brittany Ferries adds "Our relationship with GOSS Interactive goes above and beyond a typical Supplier-Client relationship. GOSS are our technology partners and we work very closely together to constantly improve our online offering"

Website optimisation

A variety of techniques are used to optimise the website. Website analytics are studied to understand , how they move around the site and where potential customers exit the site. The insight gained from this is used to further develop site design and functionality.

This has resulted in functionality enhancements such as the addition of LiveChat. This facility enables website visitors to have immediate conversations with contact centre operatives. By making contact in this way, visitors can ask questions during the booking process, which often results in a booking being made once a simple question is resolved.Brittany Ferries LiveChat

Multi-variate testing is used to further refine page layout. This is a process where by users are dynamically presented with different versions of a page and the resultant behaviours are subjected to statistical analyses to determine which is the best version of the page to adopt. This is not a one-off process, but a continually evolving and iterative one where alternative variants are tested regularly.

Matt adds, "We are constantly looking for new ways to improve the customer experience and increase conversions and using multi-variate testing helps us to achieve this goal. We can try out new ideas without taking big risks and it provides us with tangible insight into our visitors browsing and booking behaviours."

Rob McCarty, CEO, GOSS Interactive comments, "Successful websites are constantly reviewing their processes and user experience in order to be able to refine these and deliver an even better service. The team at Brittany Ferries are proactive at putting the customer at the heart of their thinking and website improvements."

Driving traffic

As well as refining the website, the team also wanted to drive traffic to it. The website has several SEO friendly features like a faceted search and will soon be integrating semantic mark-up, additionally online advertising and email re-targeting are utilised.

Results on the up

The website continues to take an increasing number of bookings. The increase in customer self-service allows the contact centres to help customers with more complex requirements. Additionally contact centre staff use the website to find the most appropriate holiday for customers who call in. All this has lead to savings in resource as well as improvements in workflows and knowledge sharing

It's not just quantitative performance that has improved. Brittany Ferries was recognised in a Which? survey as winners of the cross channel customer satisfaction survey July 2011.

The survey polled 2159 Which? readers all of whom had travelled by ferry in the last two years. Brittany Ferries scored 74%, topping the customer approval table which looked at nine major ferry companies operating from the UK.

As well as receiving the highest score from readers based on their overall levels of satisfaction and the likelihood to recommend, Brittany Ferries also received four stars for its ease of booking and onboard facilities, as well as the comfort and cleanliness of its ships.

Mike Bevens, Commercial Director, Brittany Ferries comments: "Which? readers are one of the most critical and discerning audiences, so we're honoured to be rated as their top ferry company. We focus on giving passengers the very best standards of service both at our ports and on board so we're delighted to have these efforts recognised".

Rob McCarthy, CEO, GOSS Interactive adds, "It is a great achievement for the Brittany Ferries team to be recognised by independent third parties on the hard work they put in. The survey shows that they are taking the correct approach to delivering excellent customer service online."

 

1. Which? cross channel customer satisfaction survey July 2011