Great Western Railway:
Digital transformation

We started working with Great Western Railway (GWR) in 2013. Back then it was called First Great Western, but the changes the organisation has undergone over the years went far beyond a new brand identity.

Working in partnership with the team at GWR, we’ve set the agenda for digital change, and delivered a programme of initiatives to improve the customer experience online, and increase revenue from digital channels.


The challenge

When we first started working with First Great Western, the online customer experience was fragmented, and legacy infrastructure was limited in its scope for growth and connectivity.  

Customers were frustrated by their online experience. They struggled to get real time information about disruptions, and found booking tickets complex and unintuitive. The business was losing out on significant revenue opportunities as a result.

As well as improving systems and experience, we also needed to help create a culture where the power of data and customer insight would have a direct impact on business decisions.

How we did it

Defining the digital strategy

Working alongside the digital and marketing teams at GWR, we workshopped with internal stakeholders to:

  • Define business objectives and validate customer needs
  • Create a customer-centric strategy that was universally subscribed to across the business
  • Map out a 5 year plan that would deliver ROI and incrementally build towards the long-term vision of a truly connected digital customer
  • Set up an agreed KPI framework and governance process, informing how the business would manage and optimise its digital divisions during the 5 years

The strategy centred on improving the experience in 3 key areas – buying tickets, offering advice during disruption, and inspiring customers to explore the region by train.

Delivering the digital transformation programme

The digital strategy created a roadmap of projects, to be delivered over the following 3-5 years.

Website redesign

The first major project of the programme was the launch of in September 2015, a new website to land the new brand – read our case study on the making of

Improved booking process

Following months of user testing, we have recently launched the redesigned booking process. The new interface makes it much easier for customers to understand ticket options, and find the best fare, whether their priority is price or flexibility.  Since launch, the redesigned booking engine has driven a 4.1% increase in conversion.

My Account area

In early 2017 we launched the new My Account area, enabling customers to self-serve with functionality such as:

  • Manage bookings
  • Buy Season Tickets
  • Quick-book favourite journeys
  • Apply for refunds

Continuous optimisation

With a team of consultants from across the agency working on the account full-time, we run a programme of continuous improvement through:

  • Regular KPI reporting
  • Customer feedback measurement
  • Click stream analysis
  • Content iteration informed by user feedback and data

These learnings inform future projects, to ensure we’re always improving the experience for customers, and maximising returns for the business.

The results

The launch of was the first step in our programme of transformation, and has achieved some truly impressive results since going live in September 2015:

+ 4 %

Booking conversions increased by

+ 9 %


+ 16 %

Average transaction value increased by

+ 10 %

Digital shift

What next?

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey, not a finite project. Our focus for 2017 is on personalisation and conversion rate optimisation, both of which will further our objectives of improving the customer experience, and increasing digital revenue in turn.

“Our teams have become quickly immersed in this big project. It’s clear to see that everyone working on the new look, feel and brand are dedicated to delivering something that will pull Digital GWR into the 21st Century, but maintaining the great heritage that surrounds our railway. Everyone associated to GWR have a vision that it is going to be something truly Great again, and the hard work and high standard of work that has and is being put in, is extremely obvious and significantly helping us to deliver a modern, customer driven proposition.”

Kevin Jones – Digital Product Manager - Great Western Railway

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