Reaching mobile customers reliably with correct addresses
SBB / Alliance SwissPass

The red SwissPass card may have cult status, but it provides around six million people with access to public transport in Switzerland. Isn’t it a Herculean task to keep the addresses in such a huge customer base up to date? Not at all! SBB and Alliance SwissPass successfully use Swiss Post’s address maintenance services for this purpose.

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Around 250 transport companies and 18 regional fare and transport networks provide public transport services in Switzerland. Among these, 39 cooperation partners offer the SwissPass via Alliance SwissPass: an RFID card for most public transport travelcards – such as the General (GA) and Half Fare Travelcards – and for transport networks that can also be used for secure access, payment and two-factor authentication. More than six million customers in Switzerland have a SwissPass, which is also available digitally on the mobile phone. Not only do Swiss people use public transport intensively, they also like to move around, as is highlighted by the fact that around 800,000 people move home each year, 

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39 cooperation partners in Alliance SwissPass provide data to NOVA’s (Netzweite öV-Anbindung – network-wide public transport connection) back-end system via 108 channels. Seven million data items relating to Swiss customers across the entire public transport system are brought together on the platform, which has a million users each month. In 2020, NOVA processed 104 million services for a total of 2.5 billion Swiss francs, including 3.1 million GA or Half Fare Travelcards in the public transport sector. SBB manages the operation, maintenance and development of the platform on behalf of the industry.

Huge data volume

“Because there are around six million SwissPass customers at present, up-to-date data is highly relevant for us,” says Oliver Nitsche, one of the NOVA platform’s product owners. He goes on to explain: “Cards that are ordered must be delivered to customers reliably. Correctly addressed invoices improve the payment process. The costs of processing returns for undeliverable mail also need to be kept to a minimum.”

Until 2019, SBB managed its customer data in its own system, with address cleaning implemented by a different provider. To reduce undeliverable consignments, SBB also used Swiss Post’s notification of move service, which sent a file to the SBB Contact Center every day via IncaMail. This file contained all movers’ addresses that were directly assigned to SBB. The addresses were firstly matched with the Swiss Post addresses via date of birth and then fed manually into the system. 

When the old system had to be replaced in 2019, Swiss Post won the tender. Oliver Nitsche explains the reasons behind the decision:  

Swiss Post’s bid was the best at meeting our requirements. In terms of address origin and currentness, Swiss Post has a USP over the competition, as it’s in contact with people on a daily basis.

Efficient flat-rate model for address services

Since 2020, SBB has successfully been using Swiss Post’s address services under a flat-rate model. This includes Address assistant/Address verification, address maintenance and notification of move. SBB uses all these services via a single web service. Every time an address is entered into the system, building verification is automatically requested, and this indicates whether the address is correct or not. If customers register with the SwissPass login on, the Address assistant supports them when entering their contact details and ensures that only correct addresses are entered into the system.

28 night-time reconciliation processes with 250,000 addresses every month

Up-to-date customer addresses are a key quality criterion for SBB. That’s why it has seven million items of customer data reconciled and cleaned by Swiss Post on a monthly basis. This process is always carried out at night, in tranches of 250,000 addresses. SBB uses a specific set of rules in the system, with corresponding labelling, to update the return results. 

The regular reconciliation means that the various divisions of SBB and the public transport sector can always select current and correct customer addresses from the system. As a result, renewal offers for the GA or Half Fare Travelcard, customer mailing campaigns relating to current travel offers and invoices reach their recipients reliably. SBB also uses the web service for enquiries about remaining undeliverable items. 

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Valuable return results

Every night, Swiss Post sends an updated address file to SBB via the web service. This contains various columns with the applicable quality status (QSTAT) for each address, any corrections, such as the house number, and accuracy probability. The quality status “Relocation match” is highly relevant for SBB. If accuracy probability is over 97 percent, SBB accepts the addresses in order to avoid losing customers from its database and to prevent time-consuming, expensive returns. With the quality status “Address not known”, the address is marked as “not verified”, but is still passed through. The delivery staff can attempt delivery with their local knowledge.
If SBB requires additional details on each address status, the ShortReport (PDF, 101.2 KB) that is also included provides detailed information. 

Address maintenance and notification of move now via the same web service

Swiss Post now provides the two address services “Address maintenance” and “Notification of move” via exactly the same web service. SBB is one of the pioneering users of this service. Oliver Nitsche reports positive experiences of the trial operations: “The integration of address maintenance and notification of move into the same web service is a clear efficiency improvement as far as we are concerned. Performing two process steps in one eliminates the manual processes for matching notifications of move with our database. All information on the change of address is contained in one file. Our workload for implementation is practically zero, as the web service is already integrated and uses our existing rules for processing the return results.” The upgraded web service ensures that address quality is always maintained at a high standard for SBB. Oliver Nitsche sees this as a huge benefit: “It means we always have current, correct addresses in the system.”

Additional address potential with Clean File 

In addition to notifications of move, SBB now also receives the Clean File from Swiss Post. This contains addresses that cannot be assigned to SBB’s address database. Generally, the use of addresses by SBB is legally linked to the use of a service, and customers must register themselves. But the persons who are moving have given Swiss Post their consent to notify SBB of their new address. SBB is now able to analyse further applications for the additional potential use of addresses from the Clean File. 

Less effort

For Oliver Nitsche, it was clear that SBB should use the upgraded web service for address maintenance and notifications of move: “The conversion doesn’t require any additional effort from us. The web service is already available, and it’s simply a matter of making a new request. Thanks to the automated reading-in of the addresses that are reported back, there’s no need for manual feed-in.” A two-month parallel operation of IncaMail and the web service has ensured that address reconciliation is now correct. SBB will in future obtain notifications of move exclusively from the web service. 

Almost completely happy

At the start of the conversion, the response time in building identification for customer registrations was sometimes not fast enough for SBB. However, the users did not notice during address input, as they were passed through as “verified” by the system. Address maintenance was highly stable, and there were no major failures. Oliver Nitsche is full of praise: “Collaboration with Swiss Post ran very smoothly during the trial operations. Their Address Competence Center provided prompt, helpful answers to our queries.” 

Oliver Nitsche gives Swiss Post a score of 8–9 for the overall package: “The service provides the features we need.” The examples he points to include the presentation of the return results and the option of obtaining statistics in advance or selecting a particular format structure for input and output. He was able to raise specific address maintenance queries, which Swiss Post would check. 

More information on address maintenance products.

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