Posted: 19 December 2014

End of the line

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National Grid’s Kevin Portman taking a call from a customer at Hinckley call centre.

Smelling gas and calling the National Gas Emergency Service phone number is the last thing anyone wants to do at Christmas. But should the need arise, it’s good to know there’s someone waiting at the other end of the line, even on Christmas Day. Amy Harding, Hinckley Customer Centre Team Manager, explains the logistics along with two National Grid Emergency Call Advisors.

Amy Harding, Hinckley Customer Centre Team Manager: Our teams provide public safety advice no matter what time of year. With our two call centres taking calls on the National Gas Emergency Service phone number to keep people safe over the Christmas and winter period.

Hinckley is home to 75 per cent of our emergency advisors and we also have another site in Leicester, where 25 per cent of our team maintain the phone line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On a typical day, we would have around 92 advisors working various shift patterns across both sites. There’s reduced demand during holidays like Christmas but not a complete reduction. So over the bank holidays, there’ll be around 45 advisors working across both sites.

For National Grid’s Emergency Service, the team handle all incoming calls received on the emergency line (0800 111 999). When someone calls the number, they’ll speak to an Emergency Call Advisor before their information is passed on to the relevant departments. Our Emergency Call Advisors work alongside other teams in the Customer Centre including Complaints and Enquiries and Plant Protection.

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Simon Aylesbrook, Emergency Call Advisor.

Simon Aylesbrook, Emergency Call Advisor: When people call the National Gas Emergency number (0800 111 999), they’re generally worried; they’re having family gatherings and suddenly there’s a problem with their gas supply whilst they’re halfway through cooking Christmas dinner. It’s not the best way to spend Christmas Day. We help by calming them down, establishing what the problem is so we can help them in a calm, considered manner.

The Customer Centre atmosphere is lively during Christmas. Everyone in the team is getting on with keeping our employees and the public safe. Even though callers can be anxious, once the problem is solved there’s an opportunity for more merry moments. Last year, I had ‘Happy Christmas’ sung to me over the phone by the child of someone who’d called the emergency number.

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Rita Tailor, Emergency Call Advisor.

Rita Tailor, Emergency Call Advisor: The focus is definitely on keeping the caller calm and giving them advice to keep them away from harm until we attend the property to make the situation safe. I tell my friends about carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and recommend they have their boiler checked regularly.

Sometimes people think they don’t need to call when they first smell gas. I had a customer call in one Christmas day who said they had been smelling gas at their property for three years; please never follow their example!

Call 0800 111 999 as soon as you smell gas at Christmas or any other time – don’t hesitate!

  • Les Lawrance

    the main picture; Where was that taken? it doesn’t look very much like Hinckley Customer Centre?

  • andrew paul

    Its such a shame for your temporary staff, some of whom have been with you for years, that you treat them so poorly in terms of holidays/staff rights etc

  • caz

    The repair dispatch office judging by the staff. Hello kev!

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"The focus is definitely on keeping the caller calm and giving them advice to keep them away from harm until we attend the property to make the situation safe."

Rita Tailor, Emergency Call Advisor.