Customer satisfaction

From 1 January 2016, NS has been aiming to improve the integrated customer satisfaction figures from domestic and international passengers. In 2016, 77% of passengers on the main rail network gave a score of 7 out of 10 or higher for the train journey. Customer satisfaction has been increased by targeting three key passenger needs (control, appreciation and freedom), including nine themes such as punctuality, cleanliness, crowding, hospitality and travelling without barriers. Increased customer satisfaction last year was partly the result of better management of the composition of rolling stock and the absence of major disruptions. Journey information, cleaner trains and the fact that the public transport smartcard was working properly also contributed to customer satisfaction. Ratings for hospitality varied: the addressability of railway staff could have been better, although the assessment of the friendliness of station staff became more positive.

Cross-border connections

At 85%, general customer satisfaction among international passengers in 2016 was a little bit below target (86%). International passengers did rate their contacts with NS International better than last year.

Satisfaction with HSL South

78%* of passengers in the IC direct and the Thalys gave their journey a score of 7 out of 10 or higher. That score was 79%** in 2015. The score for 2016 was not only well above the progression value of 72% but also above the target value of 75% for 2019. This increase is primarily the result of the increased frequency of IC direct – every fifteen minutes between Rotterdam and Amsterdam – and fewer IC direct cancellations. The availability of seats also improved. However, the punctuality of the HSL South failed to meet the target.

  • *A new method has been used as of 1 January 2016 to measure general customer satisfaction with HSL South services. The question has been aligned to match the question for general customer satisfaction and is therefore different than in 2015. The break in the trend should be taken into account when comparing the two years.
  • **The score for 2015 has been calculated based on the first three quarters of the year.

Performance indicator

Realisation in 2016

Realisation in 2015

Target value for 2019

Baseline value for 2016

General customer satisfaction with the domestic main rail network





General customer satisfaction with HSL South services





Customer satisfaction with personal safety on the train and at the station





Customer service and social media interaction

Customers contacted customer services about 260,000 times a month on average, in particular through social media (51,000), e-mail (27,000) and by phone (171,000). They gave contacts through all these channels an average score of 7.4. Some 76% of passengers gave a score of 7 out of 10 or higher (2015: 77%) and 42% of the passengers gave customer service contact a score of 9 out of 10 or higher (2015: 36%). Because the way the study is carried out was changed last year, the figures are harder to compare to previous years.

Service through online channels

The number of customers who contacted us online (social media interaction) increased once again in 2016. The social media team had contact with almost 2,000 passengers daily. This form of contact was rated highest with an average of 8.8. @NS_online on Twitter has more than 192,000 followers (2015: 167,000) and our Facebook page has over 173,000 fans (2015: 138,000). Research firm Coosto did quantitative research on Twitter interaction for the third time through the 100 biggest Dutch advertisers. According to this study, NS excels by being the quickest to react on average as measured over a period of 24 hours. We also sent the most reactions and received the most compliments.
Because cross-border travel is just that little bit more tense for some customers than a train journey in the Netherlands, international rail passengers have been able to contact NS staff through WhatsApp since 2016. We also provide proactive service through a chat feature on the NS International website: if passengers appear to be getting bogged down, they receive an invitation to chat with NS staff. We are investigating if this innovation is also possible on

Service Forum: passengers help each other

The Service Forum grew to over 30,000 members in 2016 (2015: 23,000). Over half of the questions asked here are answered by other customers. In campaigns and mailshots, we increasingly refer to the Service Forum as a place where passengers can give feedback, ask questions or talk about a certain subject. This valuable input is helping improve our services little by little. Feedback on the Service Forum is sometimes so focused on a particular service, product or campaign that the customer service department gets help from company specialists. When we presented the new timetable, for example, we covered over a hundred topics with questions, tips and comments.

Professionalisation of the customer service department

Customer Service is easily accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Merging various centres resulted in a more professional staff department and more efficient processes for help customers more quickly. As a result, the setup has been changed for assistance provided at the station and for lost property. In addition, we listened to 2,500 phone calls to customer service to identify potential improvements.

Knowledge about the customer

The choices we make when improving the services we provide are largely determined by the effect they have for the customer. The Customer Investment Model helps us monitor, predict and improve customer behaviour and customer satisfaction as a result of our performance. In 2016 we developed a model that gives an overview of the relationships between the KPIs with the greatest customer impact (for example punctuality for passengers) and general customer satisfaction. We linked the customer’s three key needs (control, appreciation and freedom) to nine themes that NS focuses on. For control, these themes are punctuality, the chance of getting a seat and journey information. For appreciation, they are hospitality, cleanliness and contact experience. For freedom, they are the stations, travelling without barriers and how time is spent.

Benefits and service

Travelling with a discount

Last year we encouraged travel in first class among regular customers. Many customers choose the comfort of the first class during off-peak hours in particular. That is why we offered specially priced upgrades and lowered the rates for the first class Weekend Freedom and Off-Peak Freedom season tickets.

NS Extra has started

The customer relations programme NS Extra was launched in July. Anyone with a personal OV-chipkaart can join and use the checkout alert service and get personal benefits and small gifts. 182,000 passengers were already signed up by early August and the service had over 300,000 participants by the end of 2016.

A small gift when there are disruptions

Customers received extensive information in the event of major interruptions to services. Regular customers received a letter and a voucher for a newspaper or a cup of coffee from NS, to thank them for their understanding. In 2016, NS sent customers who suffered multiple disruptions a letter with an explanation and a small gift. Regular customers also received personal messages through an app, as text messages and by e-mail when modified timetables were being run.

Ease of payment with public transport

Passengers appreciate being able to pay for their train journeys quickly and easily. NS made various improvements to that end.

Paying later with Travelling on Account

To make train journeys easier to pay for, NS started a ‘Travel on Account’ trial in 2015 and 2016 throughout public transport in collaboration with ANWB. Passengers paid afterwards and did not need to top up their smartcards. The participants in the trial were ANWB members and a selected group of season ticket holders. 95% of the participants were satisfied with travelling on account. They were particularly satisfied about no longer having to top cards up or needing a starting balance. What we have learned from the trial will be used for further development of Travelling on Account for the consumer market.

Improved ticket machines

Buying a ticket is becoming easier and quicker thanks to a new ticket machine user interface. Passengers were able to test the first improvements at Utrecht Centraal. More trials will take place in 2017.

Paying by credit card

Online payment by credit card is not yet possible on, but it is possible at the NS International desks and on, a website for foreign tourists. This site also offers alternative payment methods such as PayPal and Mr.Cash. In the second half of 2016, we investigated how we can make credit card payments possible for our online channels. We will implement these improvements for passengers in 2017.

Travelling using your mobile phone

Passengers no longer have to print out e-tickets they have purchased. These tickets can also be checked on smartphones as mobile tickets. After a successful introduction, 25% of our e-tickets are now delivered as mobile tickets. NS sells 626 mobile tickets a day on average.

Creation of the Public Transport Companies Cooperative

On 1 January 2016 a new organisation was started that makes public transport easier through improvements to the public transport payment system. All carriers are represented in this organisation – the Public Transport Companies Cooperative (COV). The COV has acquired the Translink shares of NS, HTM, RET and GVB. Two working groups were created within the COV. A programme board investigates initiatives for new payment methods, such as paying by mobile phone, Travelling on Account and paying with a debit card. Additionally, a working group was created to study cost-effectiveness in order to lower the costs for public transport payments.