15 June 2020
sponsored by Southern Construction Framework (SCF)
Customer service is one of Highways England’s 3 imperatives. As a delivery partner, bmJV is committed to minimising the impact of their activities on road users and providing a great customer experience for all.
The Bam Nuttall / Morgan Sindall JV (bmJV) analysed feedback from public events and the Highways England Customer Contact Centre as well as from engagement with local authority community leads to inform their approach to meeting customer needs. They aimed to remain aware and responsive to community concerns about the impact of noise caused by the M27 J4 to 11 Smart Motorway construction and frustrated road users not fully informed of disruptive activities.
With 8,500 properties within a 500m buffer of the scheme and 140,000 customers travelling daily on the M27, they focused on the diverse needs of all customers to ensure an outstanding level of customer satisfaction during the demolition of the North Fareham Footbridge. They designed a detailed customer information campaign that used traditional (letters and press releases) and online methods (social media and web updates) to mitigate the impact the closure would have on the local road network, the strategic road network, and the local community.
In more detail
They used the scheme's webpage alongside social media channels before and during the closure, while ITV Meridian, BBC Radio Solent, and Wave 105 media interviews issued a clear message to road users in the surrounding counties advising them to fully plan their journey in advance. The temporary variable message signs within the scheme also provided accurate journey times for customers travelling along the M27 during the closure.
They deployed an extensive signing strategy, which included signs and temporary VMS placed at key junctions along the M27, as well as at major intersections of Portsmouth and Southampton. Signs were also placed on the wider strategic road network (SRN) including the A3, A34, M3 and M25
Following completion of the demolition, bmJV sent a ‘thank you’ letter to properties alongside the diversion route. The letter also informed customers of a time-lapse video capturing the story of the demolition, which helped to explain the magnitude of the task. A customer questionnaire was also issued to residents within a 150m radius to measure the success of their communications and inform future customer strategies. 100% of respondents either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they were fully informed about the demolition in advance, while customers praised the experience - saying they were, 'pleased with the continued advanced information' and 'information has been great' and 'kept well informed of activities taking place.'
Sharing lessons learned
Following the completion of the demolition, bmJV created a ‘wash-up’ report that contained all communication activity, insights, strategies, best practice, analysis and lessons learned. The wash-up report was celebrated by Sue Rollason, Highways England’s Smart Motorways Customer Programme Lead, who cascaded it to the other Smart Motorway schemes. In addition, they held a conference call with Balfour Beatty/Vinci (M4 J3-12 Smart Motorway scheme), to share best practice ahead of the demolition of the bridges within their scheme.
They also shared the wash-up report with Highways England major projects and local authority schemes, thanks to bmJV’s hosting of the quarterly ‘Solent Communications Focus Group. This is attended by major local schemes including the M27 Romsey Road Scheme, the M271 Redbridge Roundabout Scheme, the M27 Southampton J8 scheme, Hampshire County Council’s M27 J7 and J9 schemes, and Fareham Borough Council’s Welbourne Garden Village scheme.
Martyn Smith, Team Manager for the Highways England Traffic Officer Service: 'Quite a few crews driving the diversion routes commented on how well sign-posted they were”
Joanne Thornton, FM Manager of the National Air Traffic Service: “You made it look easy which can only be down to excellent planning and execution. Communications in advance were very good, the regular updates were very good, and we had the contact information we needed in the event of anything unexpected. Thank you and congratulations to everyone in the team on a job well done.”
About the Outstanding Customer Satisfaction Award:
In the best companies, the customer drives everything. These companies really understand and then provide precisely what the end customer needs, when the customer needs it and at a price that reflects the product’s value to the customer. Activities which do not add value from the customer’s viewpoint can be classified as waste and eliminated.