In 2014 Network Rail started the process of devolving day-to-day responsibility for railway businesses to eight strategic geographical ‘routes’. Each of the routes were to be run locally as businesses in their own right, and for the first time weren’t obligated to buy support services from Network Rail’s central functions, but were able to ‘shop around’ to achieve the best value for money.
Route Services was formed from Network Rail’s supporting functions to provide support and services to the routes and help keep the railway running safely and efficiently. Each route became a commercial customer to Route Services, demanding value for money and a bespoke service aligned to their individual needs, and as the routes had the ability to contract externally for services, Route Services had to ensure that they would continue to be the ‘provider of choice’ for the routes. They needed to adjust to become more customer focussed which meant new Priorities were developed and new ways of working needed to be embedded.
It was crucial that everyone in Route Services had the same understanding of the ‘why, what and how’ of the Route Services Priorities and customer-centricity. Afiniti partnered with Network Rail’s Route Services communications function to produce a consistent Route Services Story which needed to be engaging and compelling to a very diverse audience group of over 3000 people with differing roles, locations (from office-based to trackside) and profiles in order to articulate and embed the new mindset and ways of working.
- An audit and discovery phase to benchmark the levels of understanding around the Route Services transformation, which included a survey to measure effectiveness, plus a summary of key findings and detailed plan presented to leadership.
- Conducting detailed stakeholder mapping, to understand the highly complex audience groups, their needs and how best to communicate with them.
- Leading workshops with the communications team to review previous work and plan next steps.
- Creating a key message framework to form the basis of the project, outlining why Route Services had to change.
- Producing a highly engaging visual identity for the project, sustainable and versatile enough to be used across many channels and for a number of communications activities.
- Supporting a targeted communications cascade plan with a toolkit delivered to managers at every location to enable them to effectively cascade the story.
The differences we made
- Key findings and plan endorsed by senior leadership and project sponsors.
- The creation of a highly visual story targeting the diverse audience applied to a number of delivery platforms including accessibility.
- A fully confident, communications team to deliver the story and start the cascade on the right foot plus empowered line management team able to relay the story to their direct reports.
- We made the story real, relatable, transparent and authentic by co-creating content with stakeholders such as case studies showing exemplar customer service with stakeholders.
- The communications cascade was highly successful with the vast majority of the key audience groups able to articulate what the change meant to them and their teams/colleagues.
- Active, demonstrable behavioural change and adoption aligned to the Three Priorities and customer-centricity.