Govia Customer Communication

The challenge

Govia Thameslink Programme (GTR) is a division of Govia, one of the UK’s largest train operators. GTR is responsible for four train companies: Great Northern, Gatwick Express, Southern and Thameslink.

It continues to invest large sums in the UK rail network. Along with partners the Department for Transport and Network Rail, it is responsible for the multi-billion pound Thameslink Programme to transform the efficiency of cross-London journeys.

Recent challenges, notably Southern’s ongoing industrial dispute with rail workers’ unions over changes to train staff, made the need for honest, open communication with customers more important than ever.

GTR’s customer magazine, Connections, is part of its franchise agreement with the DfT. But the company was keen to develop it as a far more engaging source of information and insight for passengers and other stakeholders.

The solution

Connections is printed and distributed twice a year across GTR’s major London stations (King’s Cross, London Bridge, Victoria) and at more than 70 locations on its network.

Some of the regular content is fixed around GTR’s operational performance data, customer satisfaction surveys and strategic plans. The essential aim was to try to successfully blend this information with news, features and imagery to showcase GTR’s progress and the positive difference that its staff are making for passengers.

So what did we want to do with the new Connections?

  • keep the name but modernise the masthead, sub head and the cover, so that it looked more like a magazine and less like a brochure
  • apply a more journalistic tone to the content, with more warmth and using language that everyone can understand but are not alienated by
  • produce a content mix of the compulsory (e.g. performance information and brand updates) and more lifestyle/magazine-type articles that add extra interest
  • make GTR’s performance information more interesting and easy on the eye, digestible at a glance
  • encourage feedback and interaction
  • make Connections something that says ‘pick me up’.

The value

GTR staff have already reacted positively and hinted that the magazine is achieving its objectives in several areas, such as a warmer tone, ease of reading and providing relevant, up-to-date information.

Our client was also particularly impressed by our infographic on business achievements, which gave them an effective visual tool for their session with MPs in Parliament.

Early comments from GTR employees on the new-look Connections include:

“I think the look is great, it is clear and easy to read and the information is to the point and admits when things aren’t going to plan. I also like the fact that where it referred to other parts of the website it also had a link to them.” (Great Northern team)