Transport for London (TfL) was created in 2000 and is the integrated body responsible for the London's transport system


Industry: Transport  Employees: 28,000  Revenue: £4.3 billion

Business: Operating, managing and maintaining London's transport system for train, tube (underground), tram and bus

Challenge: To improve customer experience by delivering better journey planning and making traveling around the capital easier

Solution: Bespoke IVR and EckohROUTE for intelligent call routing as well as Secure Chat for improved customer experience. CallGuard for agent-assisted secure payments


  • PCI DSS-compliant secure payments
  • Improved customer experience
  • Improved journey planning
  • Freeing up agents to handle more complex inquiries


Each year, 2.5 billion customers travel across London using various modes of transport including buses, tube (underground), trams and trains.

As the London Mayor's Transport Strategy aims to see 80% of all journeys being made by walking, cycling or public transport in London by 2041, key TfL objectives include providing better journey planning information and making travel in the capital simpler and more enjoyable.

In line with customer expectations, TfL wanted to explore new ways to enhance the all-round travel experience for its millions of customers.


Being one of the busiest and most renowned transport systems in the world, London's transport system gives access to 2.5 billion customers each year and more than 21 million journeys each day.

With a growing population and more customers depending on the transport service every day of the week, TfL handles millions of inquiries per year from customers with a variety of different needs.

Since joining forces with Eckoh in 2009, TfL's challenges to meet customers' needs have evolved.

To provide excellent service every day, TfL has made it a core objective to make using the phone and chat channels easy, intuitive and a fast experience for its customers.


Customer Journey Planner

Millions of journeys are made across London each day by customers - many regulars and many less familiar. TfL was challenged with being able to provide its large volume of customers with accurate, simple directions - and promptly.

With a variety of transport modes including trains, trams, buses and tubes across London, TfL needed to ease the volume of repetitive inquiries into their contact center and find a more efficient solution.

Perfect for repeat inquiries, Eckoh tailored an IVR system, known as 'Journey Planner' to enable callers to get personalized, real-time journey planning information across all London locations and all modes of transport via the telephone.

This enabled callers to specify their search by travel time, mode of transport and number of interchanges. If the caller is a repeat user, the system 'learns' their travel preferences - each time improving the service speed and offering a personalized customer experience.

Eckoh's telephone-based Journey Planner is able to seamlessly connect to the TfL information database. With ongoing scheduled improvements across the London transport system - this has enabled real-time service bulletins to be played to customers if any part of their journey is affected.

Journey planner is able to:

  • Recognize repeat callers, improving the customer experience
  • Offer information about the same journey as previously requested
  • Provide fast, easy, efficient and up-to-date information for callers
  • Guide callers that are unfamiliar with traveling across London
  • Go beyond postcodes and road names; the system recognizes over 500 'special' locations
  • Handle large call volumes. Journey Planner has handled around 1 million calls since the system went live - around 120,000 calls per annum and 200,000 minutes per year.

Intelligent Call Routing

TfL operates three large contact centers that answer thousands of calls every day.

TfL's aim was to introduce more customer self-service to their telephone system, but their previous call routing supplier hampered their ability to add more functionality.

TfL introduced EckohROUTE - a flexible and effective call routing system that also offers real-time reporting, IVR creation, self-service integration, dashboard reporting and flexibility to integrate with other systems.

This gave TfL the power to change or create their own IVR at a moment's notice and generate their own system performance reports at the click of a button.

TfL can now also integrate with any customer self-service system, such as CallGuard; bringing greater scope, efficiency and security to their customer service technology.

TfL has integrated Oyster Card, Journey Planner and other phone services with a customer identification and a verification module, enhancing greater security for customer accounts.

Benefits to TfL:

  • Ability to handle over 7 million calls per year and 3.5 million minutes per month
  • Unifying their telephony systems and integrating with other self-service solutions
  • Changing their own IVR menu trees and pre-determined messages without delay
  • Real-time reporting and alerting through the EckohROUTE desktop application
  • Integrating with CallGuard, so any agent at TfL can now take payments securely over the phone with a customer, in line with PCI DSS requirements

TfL has been impressed with how much freedom EckohROUTE has offered compared with their previous system. As well as the ability to route 130 inbound numbers through the Eckoh platform, EckohROUTE has enabled TfL to bring more control back into their contact center.

Secure Chat

Eckoh introduced Secure Chat into TfL in 2020, and now averages c.3,500 customer chat sessions per month, with 80% of customers confirming that their question(s) have been answered on the chat session with a TfL agent and over 84% confirming that they would use Webchat again. In addition, 74% of customers rate their webchat experience as either Satisfied or Very Satisfied after their interaction.

Penalty and Congestion Charge Payments

Designed to reduce the large amounts of traffic congestion of motorists in areas of Central London, the Congestion Charge was introduced in 2003.

This charge requires motorists to pay a daily tariff to enter congestion charge zones. Although the congestion charge has eased traffic on the roads, TfL's phone lines were becoming busier with motorists seeking to pay their charges.

Concerned about long wait times and escalating telephone queues to pay these charges, TfL needed an automated payment service that could take payments without the need to speak to an agent.

Through its strategic partner Capita, Eckoh implemented a payment IVR which uses advanced speech recognition technology to identify the driver by their car registration, make and model of car.

When prompted, the customer pays charges associated with their vehicle by entering payment card details securely using their telephone keypad.

Ensuring precision and efficiency, the speech recognition payment IVR is extremely accurate, understanding thousands of variations in providing a car registration, as well as numerous dialects and accents.

Within six months of going live, the penalty charge notice service handled 381,000 calls per annum, two million minutes and 86,000 payments with a value of over £7 million.

The Penalty and Congestion Charge Payments IVR has enabled:

  • Quick and easy payments for drivers
  • Reduction call queues
  • A focus on more complex inquiries
  • Quick car registration entries - voice recognition of alpha-numeric data
  • Risk-free card payments, as card details do not enter the organization
  • Full PCI DSS compliance
  • Handling of large call volumes and payments

Eckoh implemented an IVR specifically for contactless payment queries. The main aim of the service is to identify, verify and retrieve a token from the caller before securely transferring them to an agent in the call center.

Secure Payment Verification

When paying for travel on trains, trams, the underground and buses, customers used to top up their Oyster Cards. Now customers have the choice to use just their contactless payment card to travel around London, touching pads with their cards as they enter and exit stations or stops.

Previously, if a customer phoned TfL regarding payment, the only way of identifying the customer was through the card details that were used to pay for the travel. This posed a security/PCI DSS challenge for TfL as contact center agents were not able to ask the customer to relay card details verbally over the phone.

Eckoh implemented an IVR using EckohROUTE (see above) specifically for contactless payment queries that would ask the caller to enter their card number using their telephone keypad. The main aim of the service is to identify, verify and retrieve a token from the caller before transferring them to a call center agent.

When the call is transferred, the payment information gathered from the caller is transmitted to the agent system. This means the agent will answer the call with some up-front information including a token for the contactless card payment that they need to assist the caller.

If a caller fails to enter their card number or expiry date correctly, they will be transferred to a call center agent to verify the caller and their payment.

To ensure the agent isn't exposed to card data at this point, Eckoh implemented a version of CallGuard. This enables the caller to enter card details when prompted by the agent using their telephone keypad. When this is complete the agent receives a token notification to say if the card is valid or not. Callers can also make secure payments through an agent if necessary.

The benefits of using Eckoh's secure verification service are:

  • Securely identifies a customer using payment card details used for contactless payment
  • Uses tokenization to look up data from contactless payments
  • CallGuard keeps payment card data out of TfL's contact center environment
  • If the IVR doesn't recognize the card details, an agent can help without being exposed to card details.
  • The service for IVR and agent assistance is fully PCI DSS level 1 compliant
"Our priority is to deliver on our customer promise of Every Journey Matters. Eckoh's contact center technology enables us to ensure that calls are directed to the right place, first time and allows us the flexibility to independently manage our IVRs in real-time, creating a positive customer experience."

Volkan Altinok
Head of Contact Center Operations, Transport for London

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