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The masterful bug of the SNCF

“SNCF Connect, the application that simplifies all your journeys. This is the punchline imagined by the SNCF to promote its new application for booking tickets online. In the short presentation text, it is also a question of “simplicity”, “fluidity” or “serenity” for the SNCF customer…

To see the comments of customers who have experienced SNCF Connect, the words do not seem to be quite appropriate… On social networks, we are witnessing a wave of dissatisfaction and sarcasm, since the SNCF has, in the night of January 24 to 25, closed the Oui SNCF site to replace it with that of SNCF Connect. The blast effect hasn’t subsided nearly three weeks after the system change.

“An intuitive app like a PC from 1980”

Here is a small anthology of comments collected on social networks: “This app is intuitive like a PC from 1980”, “a pity that there are no negative stars to rate the apps”, “catastrophic”, “apparently , there was no beta test or user tests before launching the new version…”, “a gas factory”, “awful”, “the designers who created SNCF Connect are criminals”, etc. The objective of this new digital service was however quite virtuous. Five years after the renaming of the Voyages.SNCF site to Oui.SNCF, the idea was to merge Oui.SNCF – which made it possible to book TGV and TER tickets, 450 million visits per year – and the application information sheet L’Assistant SNCF, downloaded 16 million times and which responds to one million route searches per day. But the all-in-one temptation has thrown SNCF customer service into chaos.

Even the agents at the station find themselves helpless

First, and this primarily concerns the many holidaymakers in February, you have to be able to find tickets purchased on the old site on the new website. On the SNCF Connect home page, the text is most reassuring: “Have you made a reservation on Oui.SNCF? Rest assured, nothing changes on your reservation with SNCF Connect. To travel with peace of mind, you simply need to import your e-ticket on SNCF Connect. But… it’s almost mission impossible. Even station attendants find themselves helpless in the face of the sudden engulfment of already-paid tickets, which never rise to the surface. They therefore offer, quite simply, to… buy new tickets, and then try to get the old ones reimbursed. And too bad if the tickets bought closer to the departure date are more expensive…

Then, the search engine is singled out by customers. As we move into the century of artificial intelligence, the system still doesn’t always understand what journeys customers are looking for. For a train between Paris and Tours, the computer suggests a trip to rue Grégoire-de-Tours in Paris… When the system correctly understands the request, it happens that the proposed itineraries are completely eccentric, including odd bus or train journeys. TER. It is also complicated to validate a payment…

READ ALSOSNCF: a crisis that is here to stay

Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs, presented the site as follows on January 25: “It’s an all-in-one. There are TER, TGV, Intercités, and international trains. […] It’s a real challenge, there are more than 100 million possible routes. “Challenge a little too ambitious for the SNCF, for the moment… Finally, users also complain about the difficulties encountered when making reservations with reduction cards, the lack of legibility of price comparisons, and even problems reading QR codes become unreadable when boarding the train. Even the application’s black background is debating… even though it was chosen because it was considered more restful for the eyes.

“I see that there are some customers who are not satisfied”

The annoyance of customers not weakening, this Friday, February 11, Jean-Pierre Farandou, the n ° 1 of the SNCF, at the microphone of RTL, was forced out of the woods. He started with an anthology understatement: “I see that there are a few customers who are not satisfied”, to then promise a hundred changes made by the end of March to the new application so as to make it more intuitive. “I remind you that the objective is to make things simpler. Perhaps we have not accompanied this transition sufficiently. »

This technical nightmare does not only make people unhappy. Trainline, a competing application that offers the purchase of tickets from 270 railway companies in 45 European countries, which in 2016 absorbed the French company Captain Train, renowned for its ergonomics and practicality, has garnered significant recruitment since the end of January. On the side of the SNCF, even if the railway company claims to have sold 6 million tickets in two weeks and refutes the idea that it would have lost loyal travelers in this affair, this is not the time to be alienated. his clients. Indeed, the group must already recover from the enormous economic damage caused by the pandemic – in 2020, the company recorded a net loss of three billion euros – and above all face new competition, in particular on its TGV lines.

On December 18, 2021, at 7:26 a.m., the Frecciarossa 1000 train, the Red Arrow of Trenitalia, left the Gare de Lyon in Paris to reach Milan. It was the first foreign high-speed train to set off in France. And that’s just the beginning…

Bicycles, scooters and all the alternatives to the individual car

Anne Pruvot, Managing Director of SNCF Connect and Tech, former Accenture and Olivier Wyman firm, specializing in digital transformation for the transport and service sectors, was presented on January 25 as the “mother of this application”. Not a gift. According to the SNCF, the application had been tested as it should. More than 4,000 users had participated in tests and provided feedback. On the SNCF side, more than 300 employees, including 200 tech experts divided into 19 teams, coded simultaneously and made it possible to offer more than 170 functionalities. The idea being to embrace, in a single app, all forms of mobility…

“We want to complete our offer with bicycles, scooters and all the alternatives to the individual car. And cover all regions, metropolises or smaller communities. It’s about combining the best of short and long distance and accompanying it with passenger information”, summed up Anne Pruvot in The Railwayman’s Letter a few weeks ago. It remains to be proven that simple train ticket reservations can be made without a hitch on the new SNCF website…

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