Disruption on the Picket Line undermines London Underground’s brand

August 26, 2015, 9:00 AM GMT+0

This year has not been a good one so far for commuters in the capital with a succession of strikes seeing London Underground staff manning picket lines instead of running railway lines.

With the cancelation of this week’s strikes suggesting there is now some light at the end of the organisation’s tunnels, I have used YouGov’s BrandIndex to see how the industrial action has changed London Underground’s perception among consumers in the capital and the south east.

This last week has seen the brand’s Index Score – measuring its overall brand health – fall to its lowest level in 18 months. The last time it fell this far was in late February 2014 after a previous wave of industrial action. Although London Underground’s Index score waxes and wanes regularly, it very rarely drops below a score of ten. This week it fell to 6.0.

It is not just its overall brand health that has taken a hit from the strikes. London Underground’s Reputation score – which asks whether people would be proud or embarrassed to work for a brand – has slumped significantly over the past few months, falling from 8.5 on 1 June to -1.3 on 18 August.

There are silver linings to these clouds, however. Following the industrial action in the winter of 2014 scores fell across the board and then recovered after a few months of normal service.

Also, over the course of this year’s strikes the brand’s Purchase Intent score has remained steady. However, it should be noted that this is not so much a testament to customer loyalty than a reflection of the fact that many commuters have little option but to buy tickets for the Underground simply to get to work.

At a time when it is changing working practices and introducing new services, London Underground needs its customers with it. Unless it can put these strikes to bed it will be on the back foot with the public as it enters a period of great change.

This article originally appeared in City AM

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