NPower’s Jo McQuade explains why digital transformation must never be at the expense of service, and the importance of constantly reviewing the programme
We have used online booking tool Cytric for 12 years, but adoption was slow because our internet browser was not up to date, and the full functionality of the OBT couldn’t be used. So it was frustrating for users to embrace a new way of booking travel, but the challenges were technical.
When introducing new digital services, make sure the technology can support what you are trying to achieve. We previously had a CWT implant in one of our offices and a strong travel desk, and staff preferred to stick with what they knew best: they continued to book travel via this desk. We went out to tender three years ago and part of the brief was to close the implant and push Cytric. CWT was re-awarded the contract as it met our tender requirements, including the new way of working. To ensure we hit our Cytric mandate, CWT’s agents sent an email with my name on it saying bookings must be made through Cytric. We moved from 75 per cent to 95 per cent usage and have maintained that since.
I work closely with a colleague in procurement for supplier negotiations and any activity is driven by operational requirements and price. We are always challenging what we are purchasing to ensure it is still fit for purpose. We reduced our TMC costs by 45 per cent over the period of the contract, mainly by reducing the number of dedicated travel agents.
We use CWT Messenger, which is an automated communication tool, to inform travellers of policy, noncompliance and to reinforce positive booking behaviour. Since 2005, all travel data has been sent to iSOS via an automatic feed into their live system and can be accessed anytime to assist our travellers in the event of an incident. It gives us a robust group offering for traveller tracking. The automated pre-trip advice also provides valuable assistance to our travellers. Prior to this we used to run reports, which was time consuming.
Being GDPR compliant, you realise just how much data you hold about travellers. We communicate what data we hold and why on our intranet, on Cytric statements, within our offline tool, and through stakeholder engagement.
Our expense process is separate from our OBT, but we are looking at integrating them. We have taken a lot away from the individual traveller as many items are centrally settled, but if we can reduce the amount of data input, such as taxis, hotels and other variables, it saves travellers time and it is more accurate.
Jo McQuade is group travel manager for the UK at Npower, and joined the energy company in 2006. She is responsible for operational, stakeholder and contract management, OBT and payment solutions