Does customer satisfaction predict customer demand in the rail sector?

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, ridership - demand, ridership - attitudes, ridership - perceptions


customer satisfaction, demand, rail sector


Accent was commissioned by the Association of Train Operating Companies to examine to what extent a relationship between customer satisfaction and customer demand can be determined, both generally to set out a broad industrial context and specifically within the rail sector. The research programme comprised a literature review coupled with a small number of depth interviews with practitioners to draw on their expertise. Our key findings were reported and discussed extensively within the industry. Some of the aspects explored comprised: • Although one would expect that there would be a link between satisfaction and demand, the literature review explored the role of four mediating factors: 1) length of relationship, 2) costs of switching, 3) price of the product/service, and 4) presence and price of available substitutes. • Does recency of experience matter? Our research programme drew some interesting conclusions in this respect • We then explored whether any particular type of customer satisfaction appeared to have greater influence on demand? • We looked to see whether negative customer satisfaction had more impact on demand than positive satisfaction? • Lastly, we looked to determine what drives demand and what is the role of satisfaction within the product/service demand process? Once a number of hypotheses had been developed through the literature review we used the depth interviews with senior contacts responsible for producing/analysing satisfaction data in a variety of industries. Our key findings there were that: - most companies used the net promoter score - key factors driving demand rather than satisfaction were brand strength, competitive pricing, and high profile marketing. Overall, our conclusion was that satisfaction has a greater role in driving performance rather than predicting demand. The paper will set out all the arguments that allowed the team come to some very illuminating conclusions for the industry.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by AET, copyright remains with them.