Guiding the Dutch Railways towards customer-centricity with Journey Management

As the biggest train company in the Netherlands and working Europe’s busiest railway network, NS transports 10.1 million train passengers in The Netherlands. Striving to shift from a railway operator to an expansive mobility provider, NS understood the need to catch the customer-centricity train at full speed. Through journey management, Koos has helped NS to structurally put customer perspective at the forefront, contributing to their transformation towards a modern mobility provider.


NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen)


Create a tailor-made, scalable and tangible journey management strategy.


Adopted a CX mindset and practices throughout different layers and 13 teams within the organisation. Which resulted in stakeholder and leadership buy-in.

Navigating the changing landscape of mobility

The service industry is experiencing a rapid shift towards customer-centricity and the mobility companies are no exception. Many practitioners and organisations are currently jumping on the bandwagon of journey management, and we are co-designing this pathway together at NS. 

Customer centricity is a key aspect in transitioning from a large and complex organisation operating for almost a century to a modern mobility platform that effectively improves its service experience. Journey management enables all employees to think, work and make decisions in a customer-centric way, taking business and organisational requirements into account. 

Embrace yourself, as we drive you through how we helped NS successfully board the customer-centric express.

Customer-centricity for a modern mobility provider

This long-term partnership has been key in guiding the transition towards customer journey management. Our support was essential in helping NS navigate the complexities and inherent resistance to change within the large organisation. For over three years, we have involved and engaged more than 55 stakeholders in the topic by keeping our interventions simple, accessible, and result-oriented. The trust and partnership developed throughout this long-term project resulted in buy-in from leadership at NS to adopt the journey management mindset and way of working.

By implementing a journey framework, with practical templates and tools, a metrics framework for success measurement, and a governance model for journey management, we have made a tangible impact:

Design as a catalyst for transformative change

There’s no one-solution-fits-all when developing a journey management strategy. The team tailored its approach to fit NS’s unique organisational context, needs and specific goals. Through an explorative and iterative design approach, we were able to navigate the complex terrain of corporate systems and drive internal adoption of journey management from the engine room.
By piloting and testing internally with different NS departments in real life, such as the subscriptions team, in parallel to creating the theoretical frameworks, we continuously tested the way of working and adjusted accordingly to create actual value.Co-creation, continuous iteration loops, creative problem-solving, and breaking down complex challenges into manageable building blocks were key in this journey.

Stakeholder interviews to understand needs, challenges and requirements.

Co-creation sessions with stakeholder teams to design frameworks, templates and governance models.

Prototype, test and learn through journey management pilots.

All our (digital) mobility innovations are journey-led.

Service Designer at NS

How can design take mobility experiences to the next level

After introducing the journey management strategy and its implementation and governance to several departments within NS, we see the next challenge in scaling it within the organisation.

But there is more to this long-distance express heading to customer-centricity through journey management. This collaborative train has been stopping along the way to tackle specific design challenges faced in the NS journey experience.

  • Enhancing the NS Flex subscription proposition

As NS just launched NS Flex, its current main subscription model for travelling without charging money onto public transport cards, users faced difficulties finding the right subscription for their needs. As the website at the time did not facilitate the orientation process for subscriptions properly, we joined forces to develop and test a concept that would improve the user experience. The project resulted in an online tool helping NS customers pick the subscription that suits their travel patterns best. 


  • Improving the onboarding journey for the SME segment of NS Business

We partnered up to understand the customer journey, spot opportunities for improvement and design service enhancements. We developed and prioritised two key concepts based on research and business objectives: one to assist customers in navigating NS Business’s services and another to streamline the purchase process. Additionally, we conducted a UX Audit to help NS identify usability issues in the onboarding process. We laid a foundation for NS to independently proceed with implementation by establishing MVP phases for these concepts, considering feasibility, and assisting in quarterly Product Increment (PI) planning to ensure resource allocation for execution.


  • Encouraging 71% of Dutch youth to take the train through a youth railway card

We took on the challenge to create and test a unique ticket proposition that appeals to and incentivises the age range from 12 to 18 years old to commute by train. Within one design sprint, we conducted in-depth interviews to unravel their needs and generated user-validated concepts involving the NS core team and stakeholders. The outcome was the NS Youth Person’s Day ticket, which is being sold through their app and makes it possible for youth to afford train travel while feeling appreciated by the initiative.


  • Streamlining the NS Flex invoicing system to improve customer experience

Together, our primary goal is to make invoices more accessible and informative, thereby reducing the need for customer service inquiries and empowering customers to manage their travel expenses easier. Our thorough customer research informed the redesign process, highlighting the need for a more intuitive invoice system that emphasizes key financial details and promotes self-service.

The brainpower behind this project

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Nathalie Meuleman

Our master at capturing the essence of any problem, since she can navigate all through due to her strategic thinking.

Myrthe Montijn

Myrthe wants to create delightful experiences while making people around her excited and motivated about service design.
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