Eckerö Line is an example of a company that is devoted to the long-term development of its digital services and customer experience. In addition to developing its webstore, Eckerö Line published a mobile application developed in cooperation with Digia, and the application’s role as part of the customer experience will be expanding in the future.
The goal of the shipping company Eckerö Line is to offer the best service, finest food and most diverse entertainment available on the Baltic Sea. The basic idea behind all the company’s service design is ensuring that the customer feels they are unique and welcome. The company’s strategic goal is to create an effortless travel experience from start to finish.
In line with this goal, Eckerö Line has been developing its digital customer experience with the support of Digia for several years now. In 2017, the shipping company’s webstore was completely overhauled based on customers’ wishes and experiences. In addition to continuously developing their webstore, in June 2021, Eckerö Line published a mobile application developed in cooperation with Digia that further enriches the services offered to their customers.
“Through the mobile app, customers can see their travel bookings and receive a boarding card that lets them bypass the process of checking in separately. You can also make new travel bookings in the app,” says Eckerö Line’s eCommerce Manager Petri Hannikainen, explaining the application’s core features.
The mobile application is available in Finnish, Estonian, Swedish and English. On the technical side, it is natively implemented for Android and iOS platforms and operates in Google’s cloud environment.
What we used
- Magento 2
- native app development
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Our goal is to make the customer’s experience as effortless and simple as possible at every turn. Digital services are part of this.
Ida Toikka-Everi, Marketing and Communications Director, Eckerö Line
Effortless travel – the mobile application replaces the cabin key
Eckerö Line’s passenger numbers peaked in 2019 and have since fallen temporarily due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the application has found its way into the hands of many of Eckerö Line’s passengers, with more than 20,000 downloads at the time of writing.
“We’re satisfied with the number of downloads the app has seen so far, especially given that travel for work between Finland and Estonia only opened up again in mid-June. We’ve invested in marketing the app so that we can let customers know how useful it is for things like travel bookings,” says Eckerö Line’s Marketing and Communications Director Ida Toikka-Everi.
When it comes to further development, Eckerö Line already has a clear picture of the journey ahead. The company wants to expand the selection of features and services offered on the mobile application to ensure it serves customers as well as possible at every stage of the voyage.
Alongside the services offered through the application, another important area of development is the digital cabin key, which is still something of a rarity around the world.
“The goal is to allow the app to also function as the primary cabin key going forward. Of course, this also requires us to update the cabin locks, which will be happening in early 2022,” Hannikainen explains.
“In the beginning, we’re naturally going to have to offer a more traditional cabin key as well, but the long-term goal is to do away with paper tickets and key cards altogether,” Toikka-Everi says.
In addition to passenger transport, Eckerö Line also offers cargo transport services. Because of this, commercial drivers are another customer group whose service experience the company wants to develop using the application.
Digital services are an important part of an effortless customer experience
At Eckerö Line, development of digital services is part of a wider effort to develop the customer experience. At the same time, digital services help the company anticipate customer demand and reduce waste, among other things.
“Our goal is to make the customer’s experience as effortless and simple as possible at every turn. Digital services are part of this,” Toikka-Everi explains.
“You can book most of our trips and services on our webstore, and the online price is often lower than what you would get booking face to face at the port. Advance bookings also allow us to do things like more accurately estimate the food demand at the buffet, which reduces food wastage,” she adds.
Eckerö Line’s broad customer base brings its own interesting challenges to the development of digital services.
“In addition to leisure and group travellers, travel for work is a big part of our business – and let’s not forget about cargo. Our customers include people of all ages from across the world. We need to think about the big picture from the perspective of trying to serve all these customer groups as well as possible,” Toikka-Everi says.
A diverse traveller base and evolving business situations also demand flexibility from digital services, sometimes in surprising ways, as the pandemic has shown. For example, Eckerö Line added a new temporary route in the summer of 2021: a day cruise from Helsinki to Hanko. The new route was easy to set up using Digia’s webstore platform.
Designing and developing comprehensive digital solutions also requires a wide range of professional skills. Digia’s Webstore and Mobile teams work closely with Eckerö Line. To ensure cooperation goes smoothly, responsibility for the overall solution is placed in the hands of a single service manager who holds the reins of development.
The pandemic did not put a halt to development
Although Eckerö Line was not spared from the effects of the pandemic, the company maintained its faith in the importance of continuous development. Despite the challenging situation, the development of the mobile application and the webstore went forward.
“During this unusual time, we’ve been able to focus our development efforts on things that might not have been possible during normal times. We have had the opportunity to develop our digital services in a very comprehensive way,” Hannikainen explains.
Eckerö Line’s service catalogue also includes a chatbot, which was first deployed shortly before the pandemic broke out. Now, the chatbot is waiting quietly for the travel situation to return to normal so it can be put to full use once again.
“From a business perspective, developing services is important regardless of the unusual circumstances. By doing so, we ensure that we’re as prepared as we can be when our customers are ready to travel again,” Toikka-Everi concludes.