New BahnBonus world fully digitalised

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Article: New BahnBonus world fully digitalised

11/2022 - The new BahnBonus app presents Deutsche Bahn customers with a sustainable, convenient way of profiting from status benefits and redeeming bonus points. Goodbye plastic card - thanks to the successful collaboration between DB Fernverkehr and the digitalisation experts at DB Systel.

The fully digitalised version of the BahnBonus programme has been available since the middle of June 2022 and can now be used by mobile phone via the BahnBonus app. This has many advantages for the user. The new status programme splits the previous BahnComfort status into three BahnBonus status levels: silver, gold and platinum.  

Screenshot of the Homescreen
Screenshot of the new homescreen (only available in German)


The benefits range from free drinks to free tickets for accompanying passengers. At the same time, it is now easier to reach the first of the three status levels. You can obtain silver after collecting just 1500 status points. In the app, users can check their individual status level and enjoy the associated benefits.  

And the environment also benefits from the digitalisation of the programme as it avoids sending 180,000 plastic cards by post every year. This saves a lot of paper and around one tonne of plastic waste per year. 

Fully digital and value creating 

Digitalising the BahnBonus benefit programme was a major success, achieved in no small part due to a tremendous effort by a small, highly effective team of experts from DB Fernverkehr and DB Systel. The recipe for success was the combination of constructive cooperation, working methods tailored to the team and modern software development concepts. This approach was designed to ensure that customer satisfaction keeps on improving. 

"It was mainly business reasons that drove us to elevate the 2019 version of the programme to a new fully digital level," say Annegret Kloppisch, product owner at DB Fernverkehr.  

"Market observation and customer surveys showed that we needed a more value creating BahnBonus programme."

Annegret Kloppisch, product owner at DB Fernverkehr

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But even though business was the main driver behind the overhaul of the programme, "the enabler is of course the technology. It was DB Systel's expertise that made the programme as sustainable and digital as we had imagined," says Annegret Kloppisch.  

Marcus Sümnick from DB Systel, who, in the role of product owner, accompanied the full digitisation up to the rollout in summer, adds: "The app really is spectacular from a business point of view. Of course, it was an advantage that the BahnBonus programme already had a solid technical basis."  

Optimised cooperation 

Merging the three previously separate areas of Android, iOS and backend proved to be the right step in the implementation of the digitalisation project. This created a cross-functional team that worked together on Android, iOS and backend functions. 

It was by implementing efficient, agile and test-driven IT development processes that the team was able to achieve the required level of top quality thanks to effective communication and coordination. In this way, everyone in the project knew what the others were working on and could lend their support when, for example, there was a schedule to keep.  

"Our team at DB Systel is certainly at the forefront when it comes to automated testing of the app to gauge its functionality."

Dr Detlev Detleffsen, backend architect, DB Systel

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A team can only develop an app like the BahnBonus programme in a robust and "low-maintenance" way if it employs an agile development method and end-to-end state-of-the-art IT such as microservices, containers and modern orchestration software (Kubernetes/Openshift). It must also make consistent use of platforms provided by Systel, such as the Business Hub or Container Services. Moreover, extensive test automation ensured that no valuable development time was wasted on time-consuming troubleshooting.  

Reaching the passenger faster 

As the release cycles were optimised on the basis of the DevOps model of collaboration, even elaborate new features can be made available to customers quickly "That is why we will be able to provide push communication to our customers as early as this year," reveals Annegret Kloppisch. This allows passengers to be informed even more quickly about status changes and the like.  

Screenshot of the digital status map (only available in German)
Screenshot of the digital status map (only available in German)


A little tidying up 

The optimisation of the user interface for greater user-friendliness and the removal of technical barriers, e.g. for people with impaired vision, are two further topics on which the team is working.  "Up to now it has been limited to out-of-the-box functions of the operating systems," says Martin Rackel, who is gradually taking over some of Marcus Sümnick's topic areas in the NEMO team.  

"We will develop a new user interface. It is important to me to conduct surveys and tests to involve those who actually use the app, in other words the passengers."

Martin Rackel, product owner NEMO team, DB Systel

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Top priority is also given to ease of use and user experience in the development of future features. Application tests are used to check whether the app's functions are also in the most useful position for passengers. "That means we now have a bit of tidying up to do," says Annegret Kloppisch. This will have the immediate effect of making the app fit for new functions.  

These are sure to come. Within DB Fernverkehr, the BahnBonus app is the second most important way of keeping in touch with passengers and customers, right after DB Navigator.  According to Annegret Kloppisch, this opportunity must be seized: "The constructive cooperation with DB Systel is therefore essential for the future of the BahnBonus programme."