National Highway’s puts customers at the core of everything it does. And it’s vital, says Customer Experience Director Pete Martin, that everyone in our business and supply chain understands how they can make a difference for our customers and are empowered to do so
Think about the last time you bought a branded product; perhaps an electrical appliance like a TV. It’s highly likely you did some research before pressing the ‘buy’ button. You probably looked at various price points, delivery times and warrantee options. Before making a final commitment, you may also have looked at customer reviews; not just about the product but also about the service of the company selling. Ultimately, your final selection was probably down to trust in the company you selected to deliver your product on time and in great condition.
But what happens when there’s less choice for your customers? And fewer tangible touchpoints like a point of sale or a friendly note when they receive their shiny new product. How do you gain, and retain, the trust of your customer base and make them feel like you care?
That’s the challenge we face at National Highways every day. We know that many of our customers don’t have a choice about whether to travel on our roads. But they can choose to listen to us, to follow our advice or use our information, and they can choose to trust us. Their expectations and experiences matter hugely to us, which is why customer service is one of our top priorities.
Our first customer service strategy, launched in 2016, has played an essential role in putting customers at the core of how we work. But our customers are diverse, and their needs are changing. So, we need to keep driving change and improving on those things our customers are telling us mean the most to them.
Since late last year we’ve been undertaking a review of our strategy to ensure it reflects the evolving expectations of both the people who use our roads and those who live and work near them. In May 2021, we released our new strategy: Making a difference for our customers. The new strategy is evolutionary. It’s built on greater insight and analysis into what really matters to our customers, as well as our performance goals for the second Road Period. It also recognises our customers’ changing needs in relation to travel patterns, the environment and technology.
The new strategy focuses on building capability by empowering our people and developing better relationships with our customers. This will help us improve how we deliver the basics, operate a well maintained and safe network, and provide better information for our customers.
For example, we’re making improvements to our roadside signs and signals so that they display information that is helpful and relevant to our customers. At the same time, we’ve enhanced how our operators set these signs through virtual reality training. This immersive training brings to life the broader impact of incidents on our customers, encouraging operators to ask, ‘If I were the customer, what information would I like to have in this situation?’
We also want to make sure that contacting us is easy and stress-free for all our customers. We’ve introduced the video relay service, SignLive to our contact centre so that our Deaf customers have equal access to this service. And if someone breaks down on our roads and is unable to use a SOS phone due to an impairment, they can now text us on 07380 283 600 for roadside assistance
Ultimately, we want to enable our customers to have better end-to-end experiences and feel confident that they’ll have a safe and reliable journey.
To help deliver our customer service strategy, it’s vital that everyone in our business and supply chain understands how they can make a difference for our customers and be empowered to do so. We all need to understand which areas of customer experience we can contribute to, and where we can do more.
Pete Martin is National Highways’ Customer Experience Director. To find out more about working together to make a difference for customers, come to Pete’s talk at Highways UK, which is running in the National Highways Theatre on 3 November, 14.15-14.35