Getting travelers the right information, right on time

By Talend Team

SNCF is leading a transformation in transportation

As every traveler knows, even the best-laid plans sometimes go astray. Stuff happens. Trains are delayed. Storms cause outages. People forget their bags. A special event creates long lines.

Transportation providers can’t take the uncertainty out of travel or make the world operate precisely on schedule — particularly during a global pandemic. But they can use their data to keep people apprised of the current situation, to improve customer service, and to build a reputation for reliability.

That was the foundational concept behind an initiative launched by SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), the leading railway operator in France. Working with Talend, SNCF pulled together multiple customer data sources so it could create more innovative services and provide more up-to-date, accurate information — faster.

The result: 5 million passengers per week at 3,000 stations now get the information and assistance they need, when and how they need it. They get the latest details about everything from schedules, traffic, and ticket prices to COVID-related information — so they can get where they’re going on time, every time.

Photo credit: Sébastien Godefroy/SNCF


A railway platform that serves many roles

As a major railway operator, SNCF has a whole lot of data on its hands, including more than 50 million customer records. The first step in using that data more effectively was integrating and consolidating all of its diverse data sources and databases into a single Customer Platform. That task fell to Yann Jourdain, CIO at SNCF Voyages, within the SNCF Voyages IT Department, and Stéphane Barre, business architect within the Digital Integration division of Capgemini.

SNCF selected Talend Data Fabric as its on-premises platform and the centerpiece of its data exchange solution. “We wanted to create a single customer repository and be able to exchange data with our Salesforce CRM and Marketing Cloud tools so we could better meet our customers’ and partners’ needs,” said Mr. Jourdain.  “We chose the Talend Data Fabric platform because it allowed us to exploit all the data related to millions of customers of SNCF Voyages stored in Salesforce.”

Talend feeds the Salesforce CRM tools and the SNCF information system, as well as external and partner’s information system (IS). “Talend plays a central role because it gives us capabilities such as visualization, data monitoring, rule management, and many more,” added Mr. Barre. “Thanks to Talend's ETL and ESB capabilities, as well as its data integration and mapping solutions, we were able to create synchronized customer data bricks, and that, in turn, opened up several new opportunities to create innovative customer services.”

For example, the “TICTAC” project now makes it possible to quickly alert travelers of train delays. With massive, consolidated data and the ability to capture “hot” data such as traffic information, the project enables SNCF to send 60,000 to 500,000 SMS messages daily to customers. These capabilities also gave rise to a “forgotten luggage” SMS that makes it possible to communicate more quickly with customers regarding lost or misplaced bags.

“Thanks to Talend, we are able to deploy new services such as the COVID information terminal in less than two weeks,” said Mr. Jourdain. “This strengthens our brand image as well as our reputation for reliability.”

The unified Customer Platform has also made it possible to improve the efficiency and quality of customer service by combining analysis of data from multiple sources to better target customers. “With the Talend platform, we now have the ability to contact more than 95% of customers today, up from just 65% in 2018,” said Mr. Jourdain. “Talend has also helped us increase the relevance of the messages according to the situation, especially when it comes to 'hot' data.


Better services actually cost less

SNCF was able to save big money as a result of its Talend-based, multi-technology project. “We estimate a time savings of around 20% to 25% when setting up a service or a project responding to a specific use case, compared to other solutions,” said Mr. Jourdain. In addition, the ability to reuse technical processes and apply them to other use cases allows cost savings of 80% to 90%.

Finally, the assets developed on Talend, such as the orchestration process, can be used to industrialize other business processes within SNCF Voyages departments. “Although these advantages are sometimes difficult to quantify, we nevertheless believe that our brand image as a transporter, as well as our reputation for reliability, has been strengthened,” said Mr. Jourdain.

The bottom line is better service. “With healthy customer data, we are now able to deploy new services, faster and better than ever before, meeting our customers where they are,” concluded Mr. Jourdain.