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National Express gives PDAs to guards on trains

Daniel Thomas
National Express Group, which runs nine of the 26 UK train operators, has almost completed a £7m roll-out of personal digital assistants (PDAs) to its onboard train conductors.

The company is implementing 1,500 PDAs, from mobile systems provider Advantix, to improve customer service and its use of customer data. The roll-out is 70% complete, according to Mark Powles, managing director at Qjump, the group's contact centre operation.

"We are replacing our existing standalone system, which is essentially a dumb terminal," he said. "The PDAs will allow us to access customer data immediately rather than at the end of the day, as well as enabling cross selling."

The system will also bring benefits to the customer, Powles said. "Customers will be able to make a reservation online and then pick their tickets up on the train because each PDA will have a printer," he said.

Qjump recently appointed IT consultancy firm Detica to upgrade the systems behind its contact centre, which has seen customer numbers rise by 150% since January 2001.

"We want to integrate communication channels so we get a single view of the customer," Powles said. "We are developing our Net strategy with the aim of [getting] Web sales to overtake telephone sales within three years."

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