prepared for travel thanks to ns.nl search appliance

a good start is half the work

At Netherlands Railways (NS), the operational focus is on trains and – more importantly – passengers. Customer-oriented service provision lies at the heart of all NS activities. This applies on the railways, at stations and on the NS website. The process of generating travel information should be quick and easy, while search results must be relevant and accurate.

The existing search appliance featured on ns.nl fell short of these requirements. This prompted the question: what sort of search appliance could meet these standards? And how could a new search appliance be implemented in an existing website while retaining the familiar look and functionalities? Incentro sought out a suitable solution on behalf of NS.

the wish list

“A good start is half the work,” as Incentro consultant Onno Wassenaar puts it. “We started by taking stock of NS’ wishes and requirements. Finding a suitable solution was stage two.” Google Search Appliance (GSA), Google’s search solution, proved the most suitable candidate. In addition to yielding the best search results, this technology is based around a familiar search format which inevitably helps achieve a smoother transition. “People are already familiar with the Google search format, so visitors will find it easier to accept the new search appliance,” Wassenaar explains.

“It’s great to see how quickly our website users have embraced the new search appliance. We really enjoyed working with Incentro in the last few months before the tool went live.” – Jan Willem Grift, Online NS channel manager & globetrotter

integration into the existing online environment

In view of the need to integrate the new search appliance into the existing online environment, an assessment was conducted to determine which search terms and synonyms were used most frequently in the previous search appliance. Wassenaar: “The GSA achieves optimal search results because it’s able to automatically index websites and independently determine their relevance to the search term on the basis of content. As a result, the search terms are optimised for use in the GSA.” Existing content was also analysed and optimised in order to ensure harmonisation with the Google Search Appliance.

“A top-notch search solution for one of the largest and most important organisations in the Netherlands. Achieving this wonderful result took a great deal of hard work. We’ve been quite busy since the appliance went live, working to further optimise the ns.nl search functionality in order to make NS passengers’ digital journey an even more pleasant experience.” – Onno Wassenaar, Incentro consultant & carnival enthusiast

visitors embrace new search functionality

The various wishes specified by NS were eventually integrated into the tailor-made search appliance. The end-result enables the organisation to service its passengers optimally, both off and online. “It’s great to see how quickly our website users have embraced the new search appliance,” Jan Willem Grift, Online NS channel manager, enthuses. In the end, it’s all about customer satisfaction, which results in higher online conversion.

a productive collaboration

“We worked hard with NS to achieve this wonderful result,” Wassenaar explains. Both parties were enthusiastic about the collaboration. “We really enjoyed working with Incentro in the last few months before the tool went live,” Grift explained. According to Wassenaar, work has been ongoing since the optimised search appliance first went online: “We’ve been quite busy. Since the launch, we’ve started working to further optimise the ns.nl search functionality. In the end, our efforts will help make NS passengers’ digital journey an even more pleasant experience.