How the world's first Twitter bot helped London's commuters on the go

How the world's first Twitter bot helped London's commuters on the go

In 2015, the Twitter platform changed, with tweets no longer appearing in chronological order. This presented a problem for Transport for London (TfL) - its approach of providing real-time, minute-by-minute information no longer worked.

TfL won the Mobile category at Campaign's 2017 Marketing New Thinking Awards, in association with Sky Media

To enter the 2018 New Thinking Awards - deadline 25 May - click here

TfL needed to come up with new and relevant ways of keeping people well informed about its services, particularly when they are on the move. Knowing social media was an important channel for customers, it decided to push the boundaries of automation through social media.

Its campaign, in partnership with Twitter, created not only the world’s first Twitter bot, but also marked the first time the social-media platform had partnered a transport authority to provide live travel information in this manner. The Twitter bot sent notifications about disruptions, such as severe delays, straight to customers’ mobile devices on the go, free of charge, in the form of a direct message.

Customers could also check the status of any Tube or TfL rail lines at any time of day or night and get the latest information – including the confirmation of "a good service". Notifications could be tailored to avoid receiving unnecessary alerts.

Christopher Macleod, customer director for Transport for London, says the innovation meant the brand was able to meet both the needs of its Twitter followers and the expectations of all its customers. Information is now more accurate and consistent, for example, and can be accessed faster. With TfL no longer needing to tweet about minor delays, more time is freed up, enabling customer-service agents to tackle more complex questions.

"The service reinforces perceptions of TfL as a digital innovator and also means more customer-service agent time can be spent answering more complex customer queries," he says. Since launch 3.9 million alerts have been sent and nine out of 10 users remain subscribed to the service after trying it.

TfL’s "Quick replies" campaign won the Mobile category at Campaign’s 2017 Marketing New Thinking Awards

To enter the 2018 New Thinking Awards - deadline 25 May - click here

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