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Innovation

How 1 highway network is changing the user experience game

CH2M and Costain provide more than 2,000 miles of highways maintenance and management services in East Sussex – learn how they’re using a cloud-based customer service model to improve the journey.

When it comes to the customer experience, we’ve all seen the good (think: Amazon, Apple), the bad (think: that server who spilled the plate in your lap last week) and the ugly (think: obnoxious telemarketers).

But when it comes to highways – the experience is often neutral.

That’s because in general, the highway industry still uses disjointed, old and redundant technology that doesn’t give customers the quality user experience that they have come to recognize from companies like the Amazons and Apples.

With more than 30,000 roadway issues reported annually on the more than 2,000-miles of highway we’re currently managing in East Sussex, England – we knew we needed to step it up a notch.

Keeping the Amazon experience in mind, we, along with our joint venture partner Costain, began looking at the best-in-class customer service systems to identify what we could introduce to the highways industry.

Our vision? Improving highway safety and offering a positive experience for all road users that provides instant access to up-to-date information on existing issues, and changes how the public communicates and reports roadway issues they’re encountering on the East Sussex highways network.

We engaged a consulting partner, makepositive, to help us reach our vision with a creative customer service solution, ultimately arriving on a cloud-based Salesforce platform which allows highway travelers a quick and effective outlet to report issues (like potholes or roadkill) and receive timely updates on impacts to schedules and existing problems.

The end-to-end Salesforce customer service platform includes social and mobile elements, such as a chat service, a mobile app and a recently launched website that feeds directly to Salesforce and allows customers to report issues on an interactive map. And while this mobile solution provides a greater range of interactions, we encourage travelers to only interact with the system when it is safe to do so — keeping their eyes on the road ahead and not on their smart phone.

The chat service allows customers to track reported safety issues and repairs from creation through to completion. Like a courier service, customers can track our repair teams on a map to see when they will be making improvements in their area.

The mobility of the platform also significantly reduces response times, since maintenance crews can conduct work and communicate with customers on-the-go. The enhanced flow of information between customers and services crews on the ground has even secured a 50 percent reduction in the number of abandoned cases since implementation.

Perhaps the most exciting part? The annual costs for this software are comparable to traditional solutions. In fact, implementation costs are approximately 50 percent lower than traditional software solutions due to configuration rather than software development.

We’ve also greatly enhanced our efficiency, increasing the number of cases managed per agent by 60 percent and achieving 71 percent customer satisfaction.

The cloud-based solution is scalable, and can easily be replicated for other highway agencies. We’re even exploring ways that it can benefit other service organizations, like public works departments.

By providing an Amazon-like user experience, we’re leading the way in customer communication within the highway industry – and the industry is taking notice. Salesforce selected our joint venture, East Sussex Highways as a recipient of the Salesforce 2016 Partner Innovation Award, recognizing our contributions to customer success in the Public Sector and we recently earned a place on New Civil Engineer’s Tech Fest Awards shortlist in the Best Use of Technology: Driving Efficiency category.

The team earned the Silver Medal for Small Contact Centre of the Year at the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards.

Interested in learning more about how CH2M drives efficiency using the latest technologies? Visit, www.ch2m.com/tech-this-out (#TechThisOut).

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