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Sooraj Shah

Contributing Editor

Sooraj Shah is Contributing Editor of New Statesman Tech with a focus on C-level IT leader interviews. He is also a freelance technology journalist.

“Cherwell ITSM has led to increased customer satisfaction,” says Arriva IT director Alan Sherwen

Arriva, the multinational public transport company headquartered in Sunderland, has implemented a new IT service management (ITSM) tool from Cherwell Software, that has enabled it to reduce the time to resolve issues and incidents, and increased customer satisfaction.

That’s according to the director of IT services Alan Sherwen (pictured), who led the project for the organisation after joining the company in March 2017.

Sherwen explains that as Arriva had grown through a number of acquisitions of bus companies in the UK, the organisation had a number of different IT departments – ranging from very small departments to those of about 10 to 12 people. While there was an initiative back in 2015-16 to bring all of those teams under the Arriva plc umbrella, they were still disparate, and were using a range of service desk tools, with duplications of roles and service desks across the company.

“In one way or another we were replicating IT departments all around the country so that didn’t work, wasn’t very cost effective and wasn’t giving us a capable service,” Sherwen explains.

The company took the decision to restructure – putting all of those in IT services positions at risk – in order to deploy a brand new structure that centralised almost every service into the head office in Sunderland. The only IT services employees left out of the restructure were field support personnel.

Invite-only for suppliers

Arriva were looking for an ITSM supplier that would be consistent in terms of its costs, and that could scale up with Arriva rather than just being able to fulfil what the company required in 2018.

The company invited four suppliers to tender, including the main incumbent, and then quickly narrowed down the decision to two suppliers.

“We did a number of demonstrations, interactions and workshop days with both of the remaining suppliers, and in regards to functionality there wasn’t much between them. In terms of cost there was a bit of a difference but not enough to choose one supplier over another based purely on money,” Sherwen explains, adding that Cherwell stood out for other reasons.

“What we liked was the responsiveness and openness of dealing with the Cherwell team, including the pre-sales team, the engineers who came to our site and the directors and the CEO who came to see us. It really felt like they were investing in us and that we were a large enough company in their portfolio that they really cared to make it a success,” he states.

While it has been hard to quantify the benefits that the implementation has resulted in, Sherwen says that portal usage is going up two per cent month-on-month. In addition, the company hadn’t been measuring customer satisfaction prior to the implementation, but it has also been increasing since Cherwell went live.

“In February it was four out of five, and now it is 4.77 out of five… since April when we went live with version two of the portal the feedback we’ve been getting around the platform has been fantastic,” he says.

“The big benefit for us has been the customer satisfaction and the reduced time for resolution which was important to us. We made savings because of no duplication of tools but that wasn’t the main reason to go for this tool… it was to give users a more efficient way of communicating such as using chat bots and live chat rather than email messaging,” he says.

In addition, another benefit for the organisation is that it can now track 15 different key performance indicators.

“Those are KPIs that we couldn’t track or our platform wasn’t configured to track. So we weren’t really measuring anything other than open calls, we weren’t looking at customer satisfaction or first contact fixed rate, and other metrics that you’d expect – now we can,” Sherwen states.

The project is part of a wider digital transformation initiative at Arriva.

“We want to digitally enable our employees and that’s what we’re moving towards; for them to be able to access all our systems at a time that suits them and this was a key part of the portal,” says Sherwen.