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When the UK entered a national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, every business was faced with the challenge of how to safely run their operations while staying true to their vision and values. For us, that meant making sure that no customer was left without a vehicle when they needed one during this challenging time.  

At the initial point of lockdown, we were providing mobility for more than 3,000 customers and our commitment to our customers during the pandemic earned us a Silver award for the Customer Experience in the Crisis category at the prestigious UK Customer Experience Awards! Here’s what we did: 

Our commitment to our customers  

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we endeavoured to understand what they wanted and needed during this difficult time.  

At the beginning of lockdown, we carried out a survey of 3,273 “on-hire” customers and found that 9 in 10 motorists who had accidents during or immediately prior to lockdown required a vehicle despite the government’s restrictions. This indicated that mobility during the pandemic was more important than ever before.  

With that in mind, we made it our mission to ensure that no customer who needed a vehicle went without one during lockdown, meaning that key workers could continue to keep the economy moving, those in the health sector could continue their vital work, retired doctors could remain on standby and government volunteers could assist the vulnerable. It also ensured that anyone who needed to drive themselves or their loved ones to hospital could do so in these most difficult of times.  

It was true that during lockdown, the number of miles driven was considerably less than pre-lockdown, but those miles driven during the darkest of days were a lifeline to so many. Mobility became a safety blanket during these times of heightened stress and anxiety, and played an important role in soothing fears, allowing us to act on our company value of ‘Delivering Delight’.  

Our strategy: Keeping drivers driving

Accidents are understandably a stressful experience, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. We acted swiftly, implementing our business continuity plan and providing 100% of our non-logistics-based staff with laptops to enable them to work remotely by the 17th of March, six days before the government’s lockdown announcement.   With our colleagues able to work safely, we immediately turned to our customers. This included those who were already driving a replacement vehicle and any future customers in the period ahead.  

We made it our mission to ensure nobody’s right to mobility was compromised during the pandemic, despite the unprecedented uncertainty that lay ahead. We enhanced our strategy based on a survey of our “on-hire” customers, carried out on March 30th.  

The results of the survey reinforced the important role of mobility, with 54% of customers requiring a vehicle for essential travel, 22% needing one to deliver food or medical essentials to elderly relatives or those self-isolating, and 92% requiring a vehicle for more general use. 1 in 2 motorists said they would feel vulnerable without a vehicle.

Complying with social distancing guidelines  

Another important factor in providing vehicles for our customers was ensuring their safety during the pandemic. To do this, we designed a new vehicle handover process, which included the digital signing of rental agreements.  

We also quickly designed and implemented a digital communication mechanism to enable customers to quickly inform us of any COVID-19 symptoms. Our vehicles were (and continue) to be deep cleaned between all hires. All of our delivery drivers were equipped with PPE and were ‘buddied up’, ensuring that none of our transport colleagues needed to travel on public transport.  

The response from our customers  

We received numerous calls from customers who expressed their relief that hire vehicles were still available. Although AX is already renowned for our commitment to our customers, we received more recognition for this during the lockdown period, seeing a significant increase in our NPS score from customers.