Business challenge

With over 31 million journeys across its network every day, Transport for London focuses on an excellent passenger experience by addressing enquiries swiftly and keeping customers moving.


Joining forces with IBM, Transport for London is implementing a state-of-the-art Microsoft solution that helps contact-center employees respond to customers’ questions faster.


20% reduction

expected in duration of telephone enquiries, saving time for customers and staff


a world-class customer experience by accelerating resolution of queries


the way to greater use of analytics and further service improvements

Business challenge story

Every journey matters

At the heart of one of the world’s largest cities, Transport for London manages more than 31 million trips across its network every day—and focuses on resolving problems quickly and keeping people moving. Customers typically pay for fares using either a contactless bank card, or Transport for London’s ‘Oyster’ smartcard that holds pay-as-you-go credit and season tickets.

Volkan Altinok, Head of Contact Center Operations, states, “To keep London moving, we need to assist passengers with a wide variety of enquiries. The queries range from passengers who need to replace lost Oyster cards to people who have moved home and want to change their annual season ticket to cover new commutes.

“The most common type of enquiries are customers contacting us because they have been charged incorrectly, since they did not touch in or out at the ticket barriers at one end of their journey. Our aim is to deal with those enquiries quickly and efficiently, and, where applicable, correct the fares so customers find it easy to use our services.”

For years, Transport for London managed customer enquiries using a legacy customer relationship management (CRM) system. To deal with requests more quickly, Transport for London wants the opportunity to integrate the platform with other applications, such as the system for issuing refunds. However, because the CRM platform was outdated and heavily customized, upgrades or integration work would be complex and expensive.

With this in mind, Transport for London set out to find a new solution that could enable contact center agents to work more productively. In addition, the organization wanted to find the right implementation partner.

Transformation story

Choosing the right route

After evaluating several leading CRM solutions, Transport for London engaged IBM® Services to help deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Transport for London purchased the solution as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering running in the Microsoft cloud.

Tim Carman, Head of Customer Technology at Transport for London, explains, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM was a great fit for our business, because it can be deployed out-of-the-box and it fitted well with our existing IT estate.

“We selected IBM as an integration partner because the team had previously managed successful implementations with the CRM component of Microsoft Dynamics and had experience with Unified Service Desk, another product we are interested in. The consultants had prior experience working with the public sector – that made the proposal even more compelling.”

The decision to work with IBM has paid off, as Transport for London is already a good way through the first stage of the implementation—the replacement of the legacy system.

Alyson Devereux, Program Manager at Transport for London, remarks, “The whole project team, made up of internal resources and IBM consultants, is based at the same location as our main contact center. This means the users of the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform get to see the team in action and can go to them directly with feedback and ideas. The team members work extremely well together. We have a lot of fruitful discussions about areas for improvement, and the IBM team provides excellent product knowledge and advice on best practices.”

Results story

Driving process improvements and a better customer experience

In the first phase of the project, Transport for London is working with IBM to replace the legacy CRM system with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The IBM and Transport for London teams are developing the solution to help contact center staff record information more quickly.

Volkan Altinok continues, “One of the most common enquiries is a refund request, typically because customers did not touch their Oyster card in or out at the ticket barriers when they reached their destination. We have developed the Microsoft solution so that instead of having to fill out an entire form to log the query, contact center agents can select popular requests and the form is prepopulated automatically. Time-savers like this make life easier for contact center staff, and enable them to resolve common enquiries faster to deliver better customer service.”

Building on its early success, Transport for London is looking at options to integrate the Microsoft platform with disparate applications involved in managing diverse customer queries, such as the system for issuing refunds.

“Once the Microsoft solution is fully integrated with other key applications, we expect to reap impressive customer service results,” comments Alyson Devereux. “In particular, we are targeting a 20-percent reduction in time that customers spend on the phone to get their enquiry resolved.”

What’s more, Transport for London seeks to improve customer service across the board. The organization plans to reduce the number of calls that customers make by introducing enhanced self-service capabilities. For example, if a query requires further investigation before the agent can resolve it, customers typically call back to ask about progress. In the future, customers will be able to track the status of their enquiries online, in some cases completely removing the need for a follow-up call.

Alyson Devereux explains, “We are making our services more convenient for customers by reducing the duration and volume of telephone enquiries. By becoming a leaner, more efficient organization, we can provide a better service to Londoners and visitors.”

The cutting-edge Microsoft Dynamic CRM platform is a stepping-stone on Transport for London’s analytics roadmap.

Volkan Altinok states, “We already analyze trends in the contacts we receive to drive improvements across the Transport for London networks. The new Microsoft solution deployed by IBM will improve the quality of data we capture, sharpening our ability to draw accurate conclusions from our analyses.”

Transport for London also deals with special situations, such as major sports and entertainment events. With thousands of people travelling to the same destination at the same time, careful management of the transport infrastructure is vital.

“On a daily basis—but particularly on event days – we want to give staff real-time insight into the transport network, showing any bottlenecks or spikes in demand, so that we can send additional staff to those locations,” adds Volkan Altinok. “After the event, we can examine what went well, and if there were any aspects that could have been managed better. The aim is to keep London moving quickly, safely and smoothly even on the busiest days.

“As well as daily management, we also want to highlight what we do well. For example, an employee on the Victoria Line has won popularity by cheering up commuters with amusing announcements. Recognizing and congratulating that behavior helps us to boost morale and foster a culture of excellence among our staff.”

business logo

Transport for London

Transport for London is the local-government organization responsible for most aspects of London’s transport system—including London Underground, London Buses, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, TfL Rail, London Trams, London River Services, London Dial-a-Ride, Victoria Coach Station, Santander Cycles and the Emirates Air Line. In addition, Transport for London manages the Congestion Charge, maintains traffic lights and 580 km of main roads, regulates taxis, promotes accessibility for people with impaired mobility, and promotes walking and cycling initiatives.

Solution components

  • GBS AD&I - EA - Microsoft
  • GBS AD&I - EA - Microsoft - AMS Dynamics AX
  • IBM Global Business Services

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