Rail travel is big business in Belgium, where the National Railway of Belgium (SNCB) transports 253.4 million passengers each year. Tourists and residents alike rely on SNCB to get them where they’re going, and platform agents help ensure that everyone boards the right train and reaches their destination on time.
As their job title implies, platform agents are meant to be on the platform, ready to provide information and assistance to travelers. But until recently, SNCB agents spent much of their time running back and forth from the platform to their offices to use their desktop computers.
SNCB leadership knew it was time to modernize operations for these important frontline workers. Platform agents needed a mobile device they could use to help customers on the platform and a desktop computing solution for writing reports and other large projects. By equipping agents with Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 tablets, and installing Targus Tablet Cradle Workstations in the back office, SNCB has provided agents with both experiences from the same device.
Pulling double duty: A hybrid solution for a hybrid job
Platform agents are customer-facing employees, but they’re also responsible for “a lot of operational tasks concerning the day-to-day running of the trains,” explains Vincent Vanderkimpen, project manager at SNCB. “Before, they were doing this mainly in their offices. There was a distance between the customer and the platform manager.”
For this hybrid job, agents needed a hybrid solution. Now they use ruggedized Samsung tablets to work from the platform, looking up information for passengers and completing simple documentation. For more complicated tasks where they need a keyboard and mouse, they can leverage Samsung DeX, a software platform that extends the tablet into a full desktop-like experience.
To build the DeX workstations, SNCB installed Targus Workstations designed exclusively for Samsung devices. Agents simply pop their tablets into the Targus Tablet Cradle and their mobile devices become desktop computers — complete with a monitor, mouse and keyboard.
Pascal Rooms, ICT coordinator at SNCB, says, “When people are starting a process somewhere in an application and they are working on the platform, walking around between the customers, and then they need to do some work within the office, they just … put the tablet in the cradle and immediately they can continue with what they were doing. Before that wasn’t even possible.”
On the fast track to digital transformation
Over the past year, SNCB has deployed the Samsung + Targus solution in 135 train stations, boosting staff productivity and customer satisfaction along the way. SNCB leadership has noted several key benefits, including:
Agents can now do most of their work on the platform, so they spend less time traveling back and forth to their offices. Vanderkimpen says SNCB hoped the solution would save agents about 98 minutes per day. Instead, it has shaved off an average 227 minutes, making agents 47 percent more efficient.
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Improved customer experience
Platform agents now have more time to spend on the platform, which has reduced the amount of time customers wait to be helped by 1.5 hours. Passenger Services Specialist Pieter Sanders explains, “We are supposed, as a platform manager, to be in the field. The people are speaking with us. Most of the people here are also tourists, so they want quick responses. With the tablet, it’s going very well because it’s a big screen. It’s easy to see also for the customer, and that’s a very good point for us.”
SNCB has streamlined agent operations by digitizing many of their workflows. “We don’t have to use paper anymore,” Sanders explains. “For example, for a procedure where we help people with a disability getting onto the train. In the past, we needed some papers to start the procedure. Now [we do this process quickly on] the tablets.”
Digitizing the frontlines is a major step forward in SNCB’s overall digital transformation, reducing staff frustration and improving the overall customer experience. As Rooms puts it, “Having the immediate connection with your office tools [makes] you more mobile. You’re freer. You’re a free worker.”
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