As an international electricity and gas company connecting millions of people to the energy they use, National Grid has its customers’ needs right at the heart of its operation. National Grid has pipes supplying gas to more than 11 million businesses, schools and homes and to the largest cities across London, East of England, North West and the West Midlands. This means there can be hundreds of street works happening across a wide geographical area at any one time.
In our super-connected world, digital is changing the way we live and changing customer expectations of how they interact with industry. Customers expect speed of service and interaction via multiple devices.
National Grid is responding to this unprecedented technological opportunity and creating added value for its customers by implementing a digital roadworks communication solution.
- Improving customer and stakeholder engagement in line with regulatory incentive framework RIIO
- Improving customer satisfaction scores
- Complaints resolution
- Increasing visibility of all National Grid street works projects
Hayley Tranter, Stakeholder Delivery Specialist at National Grid Gas, said: “We have hundreds of roadworks happening across our network at any one time - for example, there were more than 74,000 works between 2014 and 2015. By nature, our work can be intrusive and therefore it’s essential to keep customers fully informed. Our biggest challenge is having a system in place to offer customers, stakeholders and our workers within our network full visibility of everything happening.”
Whilst National Grid must ensure excellent customer service is at the top of its agenda, another reason to make sure this is of the highest standard is RIIO regulations. The RIIO model is driving levels of customer service, especially in terms of telling customers about interruptions, new connections and dealing with complaints.
"We wanted to create a place where our customers could get all the information they need about the works going on in their area. Pointing them towards roadworks.org was great, but it meant they had to bounce between the two websites to get all the information they needed. By embedding the map in our pages, and only highlighting our works, customers can get exactly what they need all in one place and it's unique to our business."
National Grid Gas
Embedded into National Grid’s website is roadworks.org, which displays information about current and planned works and gives customers a clear vision of all works happening on the network – everything from gas pipe replacements and maintenance, to new customer connections and gas emergencies.
Behind the scenes, workers at National Grid Gas use Elgin’s Communications App, (Comms App) a secure web tool, to make live updates, add works descriptions and upload other multi-media content to roadworks.org. The idea is to ensure that the streetworks information is conveyed simply and clearly to the public through a combination of multi-media resources, such as videos and real-time information updates on progress.
Hayley continued, “A lot of the time, information from utilities companies about works is full of business jargon and not understandable to customers. In light of this, we set about improving the quality of the information so that it is useful and engaging and brought to life by images, videos and real-time information. It also has all of the contact details for customers to get in touch if they need.”
Improving stakeholder engagement
Part of the RIIO framework also includes stakeholder engagement incentives. Use of the Comms App has improved the way National Grid communicates with key stakeholders such as Highways England, contractors and other utilities as they can send detailed updates on works and share this information via social media, QR codes and email alert facilities. Using roadworks.org encourages widespread collaboration as National Grid can work with other utilities and local authorities to lessen the impact of unavoidable street works. Working together, they can coordinate works and use best practice in their approach.
Increasing visibility of all National Grid street works projects
Using roadworks.org services gives operational teams a clear graphical view of all works on the network - for example, engineers can clearly see start and finish dates. Work notices raised in the Electronic Transfer of Notices (EToN) also populate roadworks.org.
Improving customer satisfaction scores
Previously, National Grid consistently scored poorly on communication in customer satisfaction surveys. But since implementing roadworks.org and the Comms App, the feedback gained via face-to-face customer interviews carried out at job sites has been overwhelmingly positive. Many customers interviewed have stated specifically how beneficial it is to access roadworks.org through the website.
Further, in late 2014, National Grid opened up another channel to roadworks.org when it ran a pilot project trialling the use of QR (Quick Response) code, generated via the Comms App, on customer boards across half of London’s gas mains replacement works. By scanning the QR code with a mobile phone, customers were able to access real-time information on that specific work via roadworks.org. The pilot was a resounding success with around 2,000 code hits on more than 285 jobs and an increase in customer satisfaction scores.
Resolving customer complaints
For customers, digital unlocks new services that enable self-service. Whereas previously, customers might call National Grid with a query, the GDN is now a step ahead of the game by allowing customers to search on roadworks.org themselves to see where works are happening, giving them more choice in how they engage with the business. In one year alone National Grid saw a 200% in the number of online enquiries on roadworks.org. Since 2015 the number of enquiries has risen to over 800,000 enquiries per year and are still rising. SOCITM calculates that the average cost of answering a telephone query is £2.83 a call, whereas web self-serve is £0.15 and so the benefits to these ‘self-served’ enquiries are clear. National Grid can also begin to identify works which have been frequently clicked on by customers and thereby focus their activity on communicating information about these areas.
With thousands of roadworks happening every year, roadworks.org and the Communications App add a new level of visibility which gives real value to customers, stakeholders and staff alike and opens the doors to a brave new world with digital at its heart.
improved stakeholder engagement
and coordination with other organisations
increased customer satisfaction scores
a key element of RIIO regulatory incentive framework
improved customer query resolution
and number of self-served enquiries