The What Van? Awards recognise success throughout the LCV industry, and something that should surely be important to all the entrants is great customer service. It’s a major achievement, therefore, for the AA to have picked up the Customer Service Award at the 2023 event and the recognition is greatly appreciated by AA business services director James Starling. 

Commenting on the win, he said: “Being recognised by the What Van? Awards holds immense value for us at AA business services. Being a household name doesn’t mean that we rest on our laurels when it comes to customer service – far from it, as this award proves. 

“The What Van? Awards honour the top performers in our industry. We know this and that’s why we’re so proud to have come out as winners this year. 

“This is a significant honour for us and reinforces our continued pledge to customer service innovation and excellence.”

It’s clearly not just the What Van? Awards judges who are impressed by the AA’s customer service, since the organisation has retained or extended all of its key contracts due for renewal in the last three years.

It also partners with more than 30 trade associations to provide breakdown assistance to van operators across a broad range of sectors, and for over 30 years has partnered with Logistics UK to provide specialist breakdown services to tens of thousands of LCVs delivering essential goods and services.

The AA also provides breakdown cover under warranty for van manufacturers including Ford and Volkswagen.

For Starling, it’s clear that the AA’s success is the result of a real team effort.

He said: “Our award-winning service can be traced back to every single member of our team and their relentless hard work to keep improving the business and providing elite level services. 

“We don’t restrict our customer service to assisting customers at the roadside either – it runs seamlessly through every thread of our business. We also provide valuable insights to fleets on how to increase efficiency, stay safe, manage costs and stay compliant with existing and future legislation. 

“We care deeply about our customers. Our goal is to ensure this comes through in all we do.”

In order to provide the best possible service to its customers, it’s clearly important for the AA to keep on top of the latest industry trends and challenges, and those don’t come much bigger than electrification. But where fleets are used to decades of diesel, van operations may find this potential shift overwhelming, the AA is well-placed to help out.

Starling said: “As we continue supporting fleets on their journeys towards net zero, it’s critical that we invest in advancing our products and services to support EV van drivers on their decarbonisation journey. In 2022 alone, we attended to more than 66,297 EV breakdowns.

“Over the past year we have continued to grow our charge post support service too which now boasts a dedicated team of 30 call handlers dealing with more than 14,000 calls per month to help drivers with any issues they have at the charge point. 

“The service operates on a 24/7 basis and can also call on the skills of the AA patrol force should the problems turn out to be van-related.”

Another big van fleet trends over the past few years has been an increase in home deliveries, and this has led to an increase in maintenance requirements.

Starling said: “With vans now in almost constant use to keep up with consumer demand, the level of servicing, maintenance and repair (SMR) needed to keep them in the road is naturally increasing. 

“Older fleets too are becoming increasingly commonplace, with business owners
forced to hang back on vehicle upgrades as supply chain issues reduce the availability of new stock.

“Ageing vehicles require significantly higher maintenance investment than newer models and come with a higher risk of VOR for businesses (vehicle off-road) due to unplanned repairs and servicing, costing fleets an estimated £2.4bn each year.

“The good news is that taking a proactive approach to van maintenance has the potential to reduce both costs and VOR. Planning ahead to schedule in essential repairs could reap dividends for your fleet.”

As Starling noted previously, the AA doesn’t rest on its laurels, which is why, looking ahead to the rest of 2023, award-winning success will not stand in the way of the organisation making further improvements.

Starling said: “This year will certainly be an exciting one for AA Business Services! We’re currently developing a range of new solutions for our corporate clients. Accident management is an area of the business we’re keen to grown. 

“Drivetech too, the driver training business that’s part of the AA, will be incorporated more into the accident management side of AA Business Services. 

“We’re also working with customers to extend our ‘onward mobility’ proposition post breakdown. 

“Like all breakdown providers, we offer two-day cover for our customers, but we are now looking to extend this in a way that supports the requirements of our lease company and OEM partners.”

To find out more about AA Business Services, please visit: