Highways England's Customer Contact Centre (CCC) is usually the first point of contact for the public if they need help. In recognition of its customer service excellence, tackling a wide range of problems and always being available, the CCC has now received a Silver Global Standard Award from the industry-recognised Contact Centre Association.
It was presented with the award for consistently achieving accreditation to the CCA Global Standard over 10 years - an independent assessment and endorsement of an organisation’s customer service operation, designed by industry experts.
Last year it dealt with over 298,000 calls, 68,000 emails and 133,754 other correspondence, such as letters, as staff worked around the clock, 365 days of the year. It's fair to say this team has dealt all kinds of challenges from the heartbreaking to the comic.
Advisors offer support on journey planning and real-time traffic queries, emergency responses and general problem solving.
Highways England customer service director Melanie Clarke said: 'Our contact centre gives people access to expert and timely advice when they need it most, ensuring people remain safe on our roads and helping get them home.
'We want people to have smooth and safe journeys and would urge drivers to ensure they carry out basic vehicle checks before setting off on journeys to avoid some of the many breakdowns we encounter, particularly at this time of year.
'Highways England is always striving to improve our service. Over the past 10 years we have grown the capability of our contact centre to meet the needs of our diverse range of customers.'
Unusual calls received by the CCC
- A horrified violinist watched his instrument fall off his bike and onto the hard shoulder en route to his concert performance. The CCC was able to send traffic officers to pick up the undamaged violin and reunite it with its owner at the next junction – and he even got to the performance in time.
- The manager of a motorway services rang after a driver ran out of fuel and had been living in her vehicle at the site for three days. She had no fixed address and staff at the services were buying food and toiletries for the woman, who was very distressed. The CCC persuaded the National Vehicle Recovery Management department to get the woman off the services and motorway – and to forego its charges.
- One Bulgarian woman was stranded in a live lane on the network rang the CCC but had limited English. Using Google Translate to communicate with her, the operator was able to find out exactly where she was and send traffic officers to help.
- An HGV driver diverted off the A14 found himself lost with all alternative routes seemingly via low bridges or restricted access. The CCC investigated and found one route was available, although this still required a U-turn. After 25 minutes on the call the grateful HGV driver was back on track.
- A worried mum rang the CCC at 4am because her son was travelling from Manchester to London and had got lost. The tired driver pulled over and the CCC was able to track down where he was and direct him to a nearby services for a sleep. The operator rang his mum to explain he would be home later and she let us know when he was home safe and well.
- A chatty HGV driver rang up asking for roadworks information and proceeded to give the CCC an in-depth lesson on how to put up a curtain pole correctly – his task for the evening when he got home.
- A deer wandered onto theroad network – it was reported to the CCC by none other than a Mrs Dear.