Giving our customers a great journey experience
As a driver, you will often be the only front-facing person a customer has contact with throughout their entire experience with National Express. How you interact with them could be the difference between customers travelling with us just once or many times.
The NX Way customer service principles for drivers
Handle your customers’ luggage carefully – part of why they travel with us is because you load and unload their luggage with care. Remember you MUST load the customer’s luggage both onto and off your vehicle. At no point should the customer be allowed into the lockers to get their own luggage.
All seats onboard the vehicle are for customers and must be made available. Don’t use front seats for stowing crew possessions or block off/reserve for second drivers. The only time they may be blocked off is when a disabled customer has requested the front seat (remember that a customer doesn’t have to pre-book assistance so they may request the front seat from you on the day) or a seat forms part of our Seat Reservation product offering (as shown on your loading chart).
The second driver must sit in an available seat. If the customer wishes to sit there, the driver will be required to move to another available seat.
The onboard travel environment is really important to customer overall comfort during their journey. Your vehicle should be clean and in top condition. Check the toilet is in working order with soap and toilet roll available. Think about the temperature, your driving style and letting customers know what facilities are onboard.
Network standards checks
The Service Quality Network Standards team will randomly check vehicles to make sure the correct National Express standards are maintained.
Pickpockets and baggage theft
Most pick-pocketing is actually theft from bags, so suggest to customers that they keep their bags to the front of them, closed and with the fastening towards the body.
Make sure that unattended lockers are closed at all times to protect any customers’ luggage that has been placed in your care. Be vigilant when customers are boarding or disembarking, particularly at busy times.
Badly behaved customers are, thankfully, very few – but you can come across them occasionally. If a customer is displaying forms of anti-social behaviour, creating a nuisance or causing inconvenience to other customers (including smoking, drinking alcohol, causing alarm to others or endangering safety), then you must
Before starting the service, check the following:
Driver walkaround check
Click to view larger image.
Above is the walkaround check on a National Express twin axle coach. Your depot will have specific walkaround check paperwork to use. It is essential walkaround checks are completed.
The destination indicator must display the correct destination information and appropriate service number in the correct format.
The public address system must be working, with the volume at the correct level. You will find examples of announcements in section seven of the Customer Service Standards Guide. If the system is not working, report it as a defect to your operator but you must also make your announcement by standing in front of the customers or playing the announcement CD.
The lift must be fully operational and ready to use. Ask for extra training if you’re not confident using the equipment. Report any defect immediately. If the front near side seats need to be removed to accommodate a wheelchair user on your loading chart, make sure they are removed either before service or at the appropriate stop.
Seats should be in the ‘upright ’position with trays in the stowed position. Curtains should be drawn back neatly. A stock of seat reservation cards should be onboard the vehicles as well as Safety Cards, seat belt extenders and booster seats.
Make sure the clock inside the coach shows the correct time.
The toilet and handwash facility should be clean and ready to use, with soap and toilet rolls available.
Make sure that the coach has enough fuel to complete the journey. Under no circumstances should you refuel during a journey with customers on board. If you get low on fuel please contact NCC.
You must have the following equipment:
Vehicle safety/quality checks
We do vehicle and driver audits so we can maintain standards and feed into the monthly Operator Evaluation Tables. Please co-operate fully with these audits.
Collect a loading chart from your operator at the beginning of each journey before you leave the depot. The information on the chart is also available through the onboard ticketing machine (OBT) or at staffed National Express locations. The chart gives you details of all reserved customer movements both on and off your vehicle throughout your journey, as well as any safety messages that you might need to know (shown as notes under the customer list).
To make boarding easier, make sure your coach displays the correct service number and destination information. Paper destination labels are available from National Express station staff if needed, but position them so they don’t cover up the swept area of the windscreen. Bear in mind that some customers may be visually impaired and have difficulty reading destination blinds or labels. If your coach is fitted with a kneeling facility, you must use it.
National Express coaches have three point seat belts fitted which are fully ‘child friendly’. Every seat is fitted with a comfort fit belt. All vehicles should carry eight booster seats; store two booster seats in the overhead lockers and the remaining six booster seats underneath in the lockers.
Current policy states that all children under 14 must be accompanied by a person 16 years or over who are responsible for making sure that the seat belt is worn or a child seat is installed correctly.
We try to supply suitable seats with fixings that customers’ child seats may be anchored to but it’s the responsibility of the parent/guardian to supply the actual child seat and make sure it’s correctly fitted. Children aged between approximately 4 years and 11 years or up to 150cm tall may use booster seats which are provided onboard most coaches, along with our comfort fit seat belts. For safety reasons, children are not allowed to sit in the seat directly in front of the emergency exit.
There is no charge for children three years old or under. Customers may seat a child under three on their lap for the journey if they don’t have a child car seat. However, encourage customers with children under three to use a seat if one is booked and/or available and they have a child seat or baby carrier that can be properly secured. Children should sit on a coach seat unless suitably restrained (ie. in a child seat or on a booster seat with a seat belt). If a child is seated on a lap, encourage the customer to hold onto the child securely. Customers should not wear their seatbelt over the child as well as themselves.
If an unaccompanied young traveller, aged under 14 years, attempts to travel on any National Express service, follow these procedures:
|Young traveller accompanied
at the time of boarding but
|Young traveller alone
at the time of boarding
|Manned site||Decline to carry and refer
to NEL staff for resolution.
|Decline to carry; make sure the child
is passed to NEL staff for safe custody
|Unmanned site||Decline to carry and
notify NCC before leaving
Carry child to the
The only exceptions are on registered sections of a route: unaccompanied children may be carried over the registered section only, subject to seats being available. If you are in any doubt that a particular section of the route is registered, seek assistance from the NCC.
Customers, particularly those who aren’t used to travelling on our services or are going to a new destination, will want to know they are on the right coach going to the right place.
For your guidance the following legislation relates to announcements:
The provisions of the Customer Carrying Vehicle Regulations 1990 require that a driver shall not, when the vehicle is in motion, hold a microphone unless it is necessary for him, either in an emergency or on the grounds of safety, to speak into the microphone.
Major problems are, thankfully, uncommon. However, due to the amount of miles National Express covers (over one million miles each week), things will inevitably go wrong from time to time. Drivers play an essential role in putting things right.
The 24-hour Network Control Centre (NCC) is based at our head office in Birmingham. NCC is responsible for the smooth operation of the network and they are there to help you.
Contact the NCC whenever you need assistance. Ring them first rather than your own depot/traffic office so that we can respond quickly and effectively. NCC will let your garage/depot know of any developments as necessary. They will always try to achieve an agreed outcome but, when there is some dispute, NCC decision will take priority.
When calling NCC you should give the following information:
Some of the more common problems that may affect your duties are:
Early or late running services:
Never depart early from any stops.
Serving all stops:
All stops on a service route must be served. Certain sections of NEL routes are registered as local bus services. It is therefore essential the correct stops and correct timings are properly observed and that you sell tickets to customers if requested. You must serve all stops unless NCC tell you not to. In certain circumstances, final stops can be missed if there are no customers booked on or off and it is the vehicle’s last journey of the day - this is only allowed if authorised by NCC first.
Breakdowns are unavoidable and can lead to severe delays for customers if not handled properly.
If a breakdown occurs while on a motorway, contact NCC immediately so they can contact Highways England and/or the relevant authority. NCC will also begin their incident response and contact your operator. If a breakdown occurs on any other road, again make immediate contact with the NCC.
Too many customers and not enough seats:
If an overload occurs at a staffed site, contact a member of the Customer Services team immediately.
If an overload occurs away from a staffed site, contact NCC immediately to let them know about the situation. Never drive a service while overloaded. Always keep NCC updated if things change.
Your schedule might have refreshment stops built in; these must be used unless you are otherwise instructed. Don’t make any unscheduled refreshment stops, unless advised to do so by NCC.
The following procedures should be followed when taking a refreshment break at a service station:
If any customers are missing:
Go back into the service station and check the area for customers. Try to contact a member of the service station staff to ask that an announcement, calling for your customers, be broadcast over the tannoy system. If the customer has still not returned, ring NCC for further instructions. Don’t leave the service area without contacting NCC.
So that we can respond to increased customer demand on certain routes at certain times (such as weekends and Bank Holidays), we will often ‘duplicate’ a service; ie. one or more extra coaches are added to a service so that more seats can be sold. If this is the case for a service you are driving, your operator or staff at National Express locations will let you know.
If you’re starting your journey at an unstaffed or non-National Express location, you can see if your service is duplicated by looking at your driver’s chart/pick-up list. Here, it will show more seats sold than the capacity you have on your coach (for example, 96 seats sold on a 48-seat coach). If you are ever in any doubt about whether your service has been duplicated, call NCC to check.
If your service has been duplicated, those customers going to the final destination should be loaded onto the duplicate or additional coach. Customers going to intermediate stops should be loaded onto your coach. As the driver of the scheduled, advertised service, you must serve all advertised stops along the route.
An important part of the service we offer customers is the safe and secure carriage of their luggage on their journey.
National Express allow customers to travel with up to two medium cases in the hold (70cm x 45cm x 30cm) each with a max weight of 20kg OR one large item that has maximum dimensions of 75cm x 50cm x 32cm with a maximum weight of 20kg. If you struggle to lift luggage into the hold, ask the customer to help you load their luggage. Customer service advisers at our manned stations may be able to support with the boarding process where possible.
Over-sized special items or excess items are subject to additional charges. They can be bought online, before travelling or on the day of travel from customer service or from the driver.
You must not carry unaccompanied luggage other than approved parcels and National Express mail/parcels.
Customers can take on board one piece of soft hand luggage (45cm x 35cm x 20cm) which must be able to be placed under the seat in front or in the overhead lockers.
With the exception of briefcases, no hard-shelled cases, wheeled bags or hard-framed rucksacks/ backpacks are permitted onboard for safety reasons. Such items can be stowed with hold luggage without additional charge. This is to avoid customers attempting to place items that won't fit comfortably in the overhead lockers or under seats. It also reduces the risk of a heavy item accidentally falling and injuring a customer on board.
The following is our commitment to customers:
Within coach stations, customers are prompted to check the size of their luggage using the following guide.
Foldable wheelchairs & mobility scooters - see ‘Accessibility and inclusion’ section
Declining the carriage of luggage
This is a rare exception and usually only occurs when there is no space in the boot or side lockers of the coach. Contact NCC or a coach station member of staff first before you tell a customer that you are unable to carry an item.
On some airport routes, customer luggage may occasionally exceed the locker capacity; if this looks like it may happen, you or coach station staff should contact NCC for assistance.
Prohibited items of luggage:
For the safety of staff, customers and other road users the following items cannot be carried. If a customer presents any of the below please contact coach station staff or NCC.
Most claims for stolen luggage occur when the boot or locker has been emptied at the end of a journey. It is easy for a thief to step forward before the real owner appears.
The loss of their luggage can be a traumatic experience for our customers so please take great care of their belongings. Your employing operating company will meet the cost of claims for lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
We will carry up to two medium-sized items or one larger case in the hold per customer, for free, as detailed above.
Customers wishing to carry more than two items in the hold should only be permitted if:
The following booking process is for customers who wish to pay for excess/outsized luggage at the journey departure point.
OBT machine excess luggage example receipt:
No payment should be taken from a customer without a receipt issued either by the OBT device or ticket book.
The following booking process is for customers who wish to pay for excess/outsized luggage at the journey departure point along with their ticket to travel:
First Resolution avoiding New Complaints (FRANCIS)
The aim of FRANCIS is to provide consistency and make sure customers receive the same level of care and attention when they are travelling with us and things don’t go to plan.
When authorised by NCC, a discount or a free journey can be offered to customers who have been severely inconvenienced as a result of a failure on our part. Resolving customers’ issues at the first opportunity should reduce customer dissatisfaction. The FRANCIS process also supports frontline staff like you in demonstrating the NX WAY and the Global Customer Service Golden Rules.
You should have “We’re Sorry” cards which are given to the customer, along with the incident number, after NCC have authorised the discount. The customer texts in their ticket number and the incident number (as quoted by the driver or station member of staff) to receive a discount or free journey (discount is based on agreement and incident type).
When should FRANCIS be used by drivers?
When an incident or service disruption takes place that affects a number of customers whilst on board, and cannot be easily resolved by an apology and explanation, you should contact NCC to report the incident and recommend the FRANCIS process be started.
You are best placed to understand the level of discomfort and dissatisfaction that has been caused, and to make recommendations for offering 50% or 100% off future journeys. However, NCC will make the final decision. Typical examples may be:
How does FRANCIS work?
Suggested P.A. announcement
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very sorry for the inconvenience experienced on your journey today. As a step towards making things right, I would like to offer you [50% discount /complimentary travel] for a future journey with us. I will shortly be handing out cards which will enable you to claim your discount voucher when submitted with an incident number which I will shortly be quoting to you. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience experienced on this occasion.”
Note: Occasionally NCC may wish to give this message directly to customers via the hands-free device. The vouchers can be redeemed online, at coach stations or via NCC.
If you are unable to issue the “We’re Sorry” cards, NCC can ring ahead to the next manned station to ask the staff to meet the coach with the Incident Number already inserted, ready to give to customers along with an apology. An immediate and seamless response benefits the customer, restores their confidence in us and reassures them we are in control of the situation, taking measures to resolve things.
When might FRANCIS not be appropriate?
There will be a few occasions when you will be unable to resolve a situation for the customer there and then. The priority here will be to advise NCC and take their advice as to whether this process is appropriate.
The compensation grid will help you to make decisions regarding reimbursement in line with the FRANCIS process. It is a guide and only to be used as part of your recovery tool kit; if you can justify exceeding this and it recovers the customer then do so. Don’t forget a simple apology and explanation is often all that is required and not all situations will require compensation.
FRANCIS process flow
As a National Express driver, you will be provided with a full National Express uniform. This will include shirt, tie/neck-tie, jacket, jumper, trousers/skirt, fleece and hi-viz jacket. You can order new or replacement uniform by contacting your operator. You must provide your own shoes; they should be smart, black, flat non-slip shoes that cover your whole foot (as per PCV guidelines).
You are expected to wear your uniform at all times, including your name badge, while on duty. Your uniform must be clean and smart.
Customers are not only guaranteed a seat on our services but, for a small fee (available from £2 per
person, per journey, on the majority of services), they can choose their seat from a designated area. Seat reservations can only be booked online, not at coach stations, agents, NCC or via the driver.
You can watch a training video which explains the seat reservation process here.
Customers will have the seat number which they pre-booked on their ticket for travel and your driver’s chart will show which seats have been sold on the service being operated.
Full Terms & Conditions will be available on the website, but here is an overview:
How it works
In 2018 we launched premium seating on board our double-decker fleet.
Reservation and extra legroom seating reservation:
The seat price is an additional £4 and is bookable via online channels only - not at coach stations, agents, contact centre or via the driver. Customers will be able to book a seat using the same functionality as Standard Seat Reservation.
Our premium seating is ideal for:
Full Terms and Conditions will be available on the National Express website, but key terms are:
Customer tickets will show a ticket number the same as the seat reservations; this information will also be available on drivers’ charts.
The VUER onboard entertainment allows customers to view their own personal choice of TV shows or films while on board. Customers will need to connect to the National Express onboard Wi-Fi network where internet browsing, TV and films are available free of charge.
Customers can also register within the VUER system to activate general internet browsing. As many people will be connecting at the same time, it won’t be like internet access at home but it does allow customers to check emails, social media etc. The number of people using VUER does not affect watching TV or films etc.
Onboard ticket machines (OBT) should be used wherever available to sell tickets to customers who have not pre-booked their journey. The ticket machines will charge a predefined fare that is downloaded at the start of each day.
Like the boarding process, ticket machines should be operated at the foot of the stairs to make sure every customer has a ticket check. Tickets, depending on type, are scanned or manually inputted into the machine.
The machines allow cash and debit/credit card payments and will display the amount of change to be given to the customer. Tickets sold by a driver for the service are automatically boarded and, as such, don’t need to be scanned or inputted into the machine.
The ticket machine also allows the driver to refresh the driver loading chart showing where customers are expected to be boarding or alighting throughout the entire journey.
We encourage our customers to feedback to us because it helps us improve our service and support customers while they are travelling with us.
Text feedback service
In journey, we have onboard stickers to ask for customer feedback and for any safety-related concerns to be reported. Our Customer Response team respond to any unhappy feedback within 24 hours. If a safety concern is raised, NCC will respond within the hour.
Post journey survey
Customers who have booked online (and given us consent to do so) will receive a survey to fill in following their journey with us. This is then used to work on service improvement plans across the business. Our complaint data also supports areas of improvement, identifying areas of concern for customers, working closely with operators, frontline teams and Head Office to put things right.
If a customer tells you they are unhappy with their experience, firstly try and see if there is anything you can do to resolve this. If there isn’t, let the customer know about the following ways to make a complaint.
The internet provides unique opportunities to take part in interactive discussions and share information on topics using a variety of social media. However, use of social media can pose risks to our confidential and proprietary information, reputation, and can jeopardise our compliance with legal obligations.
Drivers must not post belittling or defamatory statements or images about:
You should also avoid social media communications that might be misunderstood in a way that could damage our business reputation, even indirectly; for example, discussing customer services, posting images of damaged vehicles, discussing employee issues such as disciplinary matters, redundancies or restructures.
Drivers are personally responsible for what they communicate in social media. Remember that what you publish might be available to be read by the masses including the organisation itself, future employers and social acquaintances for a long time. Think before you post content.
Avoid posting comments about sensitive business-related topics, such as our performance. Even if you make it clear that your views on such topics do not represent those of the organisation, your comments could still damage our reputation. If you are uncertain about the appropriateness of a statement, don’t post it until you discuss it with your line manager.
If you see content in social media that reflects poorly on our organisation or our stakeholders, you should contact your line manager or HR Department. All National Express drivers are responsible for protecting our business reputation.
Whistleblowing means deciding to tell somebody official about something that is going on, or you believe is going on, within a company which is illegal or criminal, or that endangers people or the environment or is against the rules that apply to the business.
This may include:
We hope that in most cases, people will be able to raise any concerns with local management. However, sometimes people feel they can't speak openly and honestly to their managers or are concerned about the consequences if they speak up or that their concerns will not be taken seriously. National Express does not believe that it is in anyone's interest for people with knowledge of wrongdoing to remain silent and encourages people to phone a helpline that is run by an independent third-party provider who specialises in this kind of service.
We do not take any such matters lightly and we will take the lead in investigating all genuine complaints thoroughly. We will work together with the appropriate people to find an answer to the problem.
We aim to encourage openness amongst our staff and will support people who raise any genuine concerns under this policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken. People who raise a genuine concern under this policy will not be at risk of losing their job or suffering any form of retribution or harassment as a result. This policy does not, however, extend to anyone who maliciously raises a concern that they know is untrue.
If you are happy to email us with your query please send this to email@example.com Alternatively the telephone number for the helpline is: 0808 234 0137.
As a National Express driver, you have access to free travel for yourself and one family member across the country on the National Express network. Speak to your driver training officer at the depot who should be able to provide you with the correct forms to get your passes. Additional family members are also eligible for 50% off travel.
All National Express drivers are also eligible for Extra Miles awards. These can be awarded in many ways for multiple reasons and will provide you with a monetary value of Extra Miles which can be redeemed for High Street vouchers, supermarket vouchers or indeed to purchase items direct from the Extra Miles website.
Driver of the month is a National Express initiative where three of the best drivers on the network are recognised monthly. The nominations are received from station teams as well as operators. The top three drivers will be awarded £50, £30, £20 respectively of Extra Miles.
Driver of the year: the winner and runner-up of ‘Driver of the month’ are invited to this event. Previous events have been held at Rockingham Raceway and Palmer Sports. These drivers get opportunities to drive supercars as well as taking a new Levante III on the track.
Access to National Express Charity Panel If you are taking part in a fundraising event, or if you volunteer your own time for a community group, we may be able to help by providing a donation towards the charity or community group that you are supporting. All you need to do is apply here.
The Panel is made up of members of National Express staff from all areas of the business and they meet quarterly to read your applications and decide what amount, if any, they can donate. For example:
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