New portal transforming BNSF customer experience

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Mar 26, 2024

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3 min.

New portal transforming BNSF customer experience

Everyone’s been there: you know the website information you need is at your fingertips you just can’t find it. Even using the search function, the information remains elusive. Or perhaps you have your go-to webtool, and beyond that, you spend more time searching for information than should be necessary.

At BNSF, we listen to our customers, so when we heard them say our customer portal had room for improvement, we did something about it. We gave them a new, reimagined site with innovation and convenience at the forefront.

“We want customers to value using our website because they can readily take care of their task at hand,” BNSF General Director of Marketing Carrie Whitman said. “Lost time is inefficient time. By reducing search time and bringing information that needs action from our customers to the front page for them, we improve efficiencies for both organizations.”

To understand the pain points, the BNSF Customer Portal team engaged users through surveys, field symposiums and pro-active calls. We invested many person-hours listening across a broad customer cross-section both initially and throughout development to ensure that the end result delivered value for our customers.

Everyone is busier than ever, and the goal of the new portal is to boost self-service and self-help capabilities for efficient day-to-day activity. We also recognize that there will continue to be a need for human assistance, and we are investing in technology to make our Customer Support Center (CSC) even more efficient than it is today.

“The human connection is important,” Whitman said. “We want customers to call us when they have a complicated issue, but they should be able to navigate our site more easily for routine tasks.”

After testing and a pilot that received a 94 percent positive response, the new portal launched March 14.

The 63,000 active webtool users or about 10,000 daily users are now able to better navigate the portal and find quick self-help options. Of the new search function, Jason Plett, logistics director for Navajo Transitional Energy, said, “Nothing was that hard to find. I would have hunted for something until I found it, but it’s nice to be able to easily search for things. I do like a powerful search bar.”

Customers will also find several enhancements to some of the popular tools, like “Trace,” which shows a customer’s entire freight portfolio on BNSF with the ability to drill in for additional information where needed.

“The Trace/Tracking function is the most used webtool,” Whitman explained. “Our focus is on transparency, with real-time and consistent information, whether it’s received through notifications, webtools or the CSC. We’ve also pulled the Alert feature within Trace to the front portal page, enabling customers to retrieve notifications on exceptions without going into the functional apps.”

Another new feature is “Bookmarks,” which allows the user to customize their own workspace based on the tools they use most often. This is especially helpful for our smaller customers who wear many hats based on their individual needs. “This feature will help customers really hone in on those three to four applications that they regularly use and always have those available,” Whitman said.

Said Operations Supervisor Kelli Lawson of customer Republic Services Inc.: "Once I figured it [Bookmarks] out, I'm like, ‘Oh, I need this, this, this and this.’ It was super easy, and it was very elementary.”

The Web Tools University page offers a new digital training experience especially useful for those customers and their employees who are new to BNSF. It’s a central point to learn about our web transportation tools, and includes information and terms commonly used in the railroad industry. Help videos are available, as well as reference guides in both English and Spanish.

The API (Application Programming Interface) Center is also on the new portal and will continue to enhance our customers’ shipping experience. “BNSF has the most robust API offerings in the industry and customer use is growing,” Whitman noted. “This is all part of our enhanced digital dialogue experience.”

APIs provide a bridge between BNSF and customer systems, helping them to exchange real-time data more efficiently. Customers can use their systems to pull data about their freight directly from BNSF, allowing them to automatically get information when they need it rather than having to go through several steps, websites or applications. APIs help customers improve shipment visibility by sharing real-time tracking information and reducing manual data entry. Customers can also act directly in their own applications and transmit that action to us.

Going forward, the new portal will be updated regularly to continue to improve the customer experience

“As part of a nearly 200-year-old industry, BNSF not only wants to be responsive to our customers but ensure our technology infrastructure continues to be advanced,” Whitman said. “As other internal systems are modernized, our portal and web tools will move forward with them.”

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