Sarah Dalby, Managing Director of TTCS, explains how and why she started the company which pioneered automated Delay Repay for train operators and their passengers.
According to Innovation Management, the single most important habit for innovative thinkers is asking questions. So, what’s the one question I’m always asking? “Why?” “Why does it work this way?” “Why can’t it be faster, easier, more cost-effective?”.
And that’s how it all began. My previous role involved a regular commute on a busy inter-city route. Like most lines, it was fraught with delays and cancellations, and there was a lack of information for passengers. Delays were just part of everyday working life – missing appointments, missing time planned with family. Furthermore, at that time I was oblivious to the fact that compensation was available if I took the time to claim.
My partner Lee, on the other hand, had heard of other travellers on his commute claiming compensation. Although his travels took him on a different route and operator, he was often delayed too, and claiming became a habit for him. When I followed suit, I found myself filling in and sending off countless paper forms and waiting an age to receive any compensation. All the time I was wondering ‘why’ there wasn’t an easier way to do it.
With a background and expertise in technology development, I set to work designing a system to simplify and speed up the process. It was initially for the benefit of passengers, and then for the train operators. When things began to take off, I left my old job. I began talks with an operator about the possibility of reducing the time and resources it took to process claims, and to improve the experience for passengers.
At that time, there wasn’t much pressure on TOCs to proactively promote or encourage passengers to claim for delays and cancellations. But for our first customer, it didn’t matter, because their drive for better customer satisfaction was a big focus for them. And they had the foresight to appreciate that rail compensation was likely to follow that of air, in that the Government would likely encourage or legislate for better ways of working. We were handing them something on a plate that they couldn’t do themselves and didn’t have the time, resource or expertise to build.
The result of asking why?
And that’s why I always ask why!