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“We’re on the front line, making a difference for our customers every day.”

Yunex Traffic employs over 1,200 people worldwide in Customer Services (CS). Managing, supervizing, challenging and promoting them, while at the same time ensuring that our customers are satisfied, is the not-so-easy task of our CS managers.

How do they manage this balancing act, what challenges do they face and how do they ensure that working in Customer Services at Yunex Traffic is a very special job? We asked Eric Möller from Germany, Martijn Koolhoven from the Netherlands and David Marsden from the UK.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Yunex Traffic.

Martijn: I’m Martijn Koolhoven and proud to be responsible for Customer Services at Yunex Traffic Netherlands. Our team, a group of enthusiastic, professional and customer focused individuals, manage numerous maintenance contracts of The Netherlands’ most vital infrastructure. I live in the city of Delft together with my wife, son (8), and daughter (6). I love to run, fish, read, and recommend books. Tip for this winter: Frank Herbert’s Dune Saga. I’m passionate about sustainability and a front runner of taking climate action. I hope to inspire those I work with to do the same.

Eric: My name is Eric Möller, I am 57 years old, live just outside the city of Cologne with my partner and I have a daughter. In my free time I do sports and I am a passionate carnivalist which you basically can’t avoid being Cologne-based. I started my career 33 years ago in 1989 as a service technician in Cologne before moving through several positions to my current role as Head of Customer Services Germany.

David: I am David Marsden and I have been working as Services Director at Yunex Traffic UK for 5 years. Prior to that I worked in the ITS business of Siemens for over 13 years. I live in Staffordshire with my wife of 25 years, Karen and we have two daughters. I am a member of the Council of the Highway Electrical Association (HEA), and of the Roadside Technology Group of the Association for Road Traffic Safety and Management (ARTSM).

Martjin Koolhoven, Eric Möller, David Marsden.

How has the work in Customer Services evolved in the last years / decades?

Martijn: Yunex Traffic Netherlands stopped the delivery of traffic light (urban) controllers around 2012 and changed its focus to the industrial automation solutions of large infrastructure like tunnels, bridges, sluices and flood barriers. This industry, together with the delivery and maintenance on interurban controllers, has been driving our business ever since. This meant that we in Customer Services had to reorganize our spare parts, tooling, processes, and capabilities too.

David: Our offering in the UK has evolved too. From a focus on traffic signal installation and maintenance, we are now also the UK’s leading enforcement and electric vehicle infrastructure service providers. For the last 20 years or so our core market share has remained steady between 40 and 50%, currently maintaining over 15,000 traffic signal installations (as many as our two largest rivals combined). From this base across the UK, we are able to support the installation and maintenance of Clean Air Zones across the UK, as well as the as well as the detection and enforcement infrastructure in London. This national coverage has also been key to our success in the rapidly growing Electric Vehicle Infrastructrure (EVI) sector.

Eric: But not only the services themselves have changed: Also, the way we do service business has undergone a major transformation from on-site and hardware-driven service to software-based remote service. Whereas in the past, a system failure or deactivated traffic signal was reported by telephone by local authorities, the service technician had to travel to the site and then troubleshoot the fault on site and, if necessary, fetch the required spare part. The tools for processing faults are now all digitalized and the service technician usually knows directly where the fault lies. In the meantime, well over 70% of the activities in the traffic controller are possible remotely, so that a large part of the trips to the traffic signal system have been eliminated.

What does working in Customer Services at Yunex Traffic look like?

Martijn: What I like about Customer Services is that you cannot describe this in a few sentences. Of course, our aim is to manage the balance between performance, risks, and costs. Be prepared, avoid unwanted events, and help the customer the best way you can. Fortunately, the unexpected does happen from time to time. That is the moment our team can show their capabilities and fitness. It is the short-term stress, the temporary invisibility and the necessary creativity that excites us all. Followed by a great relief when we finally find the on-time solution and face the delighted and reassured customer.

Eric: The work is definitely unpredictable – and so the variety of activities is enormous. From the installation, commissioning, maintenance, and fault clearance of transport infrastructure products to advising customers on jobs that can be carried out directly on site, our service engineers are involved with everything. Thanks to this multifaceted nature of the jobs, our employees can develop in different directions – both within Customer Services and in other areas of Yunex Traffic. This is without a doubt a great advantage compared to other professions.

What makes working in Customer Services at Yunex Traffic unique?

Martijn: For me it is the fact that you safeguard vital infrastructure which is used by millions of people every day, and which is taken for granted by almost anybody. Only a few know what it takes to keep these systems running safely and reliably. You visit impressive and isolated places where just a few people have access to. And it is your expertise that keeps our roads safe. This brings a big responsibility that deserves great honour and makes you feel special.

Eric: The first thing that came to my mind are the people who work in this company. They work every day with motivation and commitment to make mobility safer, more efficient and more sustainable. With forward-looking infrastructure and transport solutions, our work supports cities and municipalities in Germany in reducing environmental pollution and making cities more liveable. In addition, there are many opportunities for further development in our company, as my personal career path also shows, which is not an isolated case in this company.

David: We are constantly evolving and looking for new ways to improve and optimize our work. For example, our Engineering Services team is working with colleagues in our Service Operations Center and field service representatives to diagnose and resolve more issues remotely. Our team has grown by over 25% to more than 500 employees in the last 5 years, and is expected to grow by a further 50 during 2023. All these new roles are available to existing employees as well as new talent, allowing for rapid personal growth for many, supported by our Training Services Department.

Why should an employee choose working in your team over others?

David: We’re on the front line, making a difference for our customers every day. That’s often tough, but it’s really rewarding too, and helps create strong teams. It’s also a supportive environment: If something goes wrong, we look at the system or the process first, not the person. I also believe that people are good at what they enjoy, and enjoy what they are good at, so I try to make that as big a part of their job as possible. Other than that, you could ask my colleague Stuart Mulliner who I was privileged to present a 50-year service award to last week!

Eric: A decisive argument for most of our colleagues in Germany is the fact that our employees have short commutes and are usually at home with their families for the night. This results from our organizational structure that we have adopted as a result of the nationwide distribution of the transport infrastructure. Furthermore, we are very committed to the sense of community and team spirit. In addition to the annual company events, we organize a soccer tournament once a year in which teams from all areas of Yunex Traffic Germany participate.

Martijn: That is also something I would like to highlight for the Netherlands! With various activities such as joint courses, team building sessions, fun and sports activities, we make sure that our teams can spend a lot of time together to strengthen their relationships and thus enjoy working together.

Working on the street can be challenging and dangerous: What do you do to make your team members be and feel safe?

Martijn: We have an extensive safety programme, organize periodic safety awareness sessions, perform Last Minute Risk Analyses (LMRA) and make sure that all employees have highly visible work zone material and personal protective equipment. As there are unfortunately still road users that give attention to their mobile phone while driving, it is important that we are continuously alert to the risk this poses to our services colleagues. Even if this means that we contact the customer to discuss additional road lane closures during maintenance. Our primary principle is: We work safely or we will not work at all.  

Eric: We raise awareness for the topic of safety through regular training and education and the quarterly Safety Focus Days. Because just as Martijn said: It is important for our employees to understand that nothing is so urgent that it cannot be done safely. We do everything we can to ensure that our employees come home safely every night and raise awareness that it is never an option to bypass safety rules because work was done “just in a hurry”. We deal with near misses objectively so that all employees can be made aware of them.

David: This has our highest priority, and has to be cultural. In the moment, the instinct must be ‘Safety First’, so we work hard to reinforce this, and reward not chastise when work is stopped for these reasons. At a practical level, the golden rules are that all staff must be trained and competent, complete risk assessments and be subject to regular safety audits. In recent years we have improved lone worker safety with the provision of best-in-class technology and security, supported colleagues with periodic Fit for Work medicals, developed lightweight and comfortable safety equipment for working at height, initiated mental health and wellbeing programs…

What are the biggest challenges you have to overcome?

David: Currently these are all around resources. At a time when our business is growing rapidly, we have a very tight labour market, affecting our subcontractors and suppliers as well as ourselves. Material lead times, particularly for electrical components, present a huge challenge. And even when we have all the people and equipment we need, we sometimes struggle to get the vans to transport them to site! Working as an extended team, with colleagues in HR, procurement, manufacturing and others, we have the strength and confidence to tackle these challenges, and the belief that Yunex Traffic can provide the best and most reliable service to its customers.

Martijn: In addition to the resources, it is our technological development that demands a lot from us. Some of our contracts started 10 years ago while others started recently of which some run for 20 years. This means that we must manage our technical expertise, tools, and spare parts over a longer period of time. You can introduce brand new technology today and still work on a legacy system tomorrow. And it is not just new technology, our technical portfolio is expending as well. We started with just industrial automation systems on large infrastructure, but now need to understand IT systems and network technology as well. Our biggest challenge is to continuously introduce, learn and manage all these technologies. And that at a time when it is very hard to source technically skilled personal.

What will 2023 bring for you and your team?

Martijn: One of the things we really look forward to is the delivery of the first batch of intelligent interurban controllers (iWKS in Dutch) produced by our colleagues in Poole, UK. The international corporation with Yunex Traffic in the UK is really exciting and we look forward to further expanding this relationship. A second milestone is the opening of the Piet Heintunnel, after the renovation by Yunex Traffic and Heijmans. And I am pretty sure that there are many more highlights to come!

Eric: EVI and e-mobility has not been one of our business areas so far but here we are currently concluding our first contracts for the maintenance and fault clearance of e-charging stations. Here, the area coverage at CS helps us. This makes us an attractive partner for our customers in the field of EVI and e-mobility. With this topic, we will make a further contribution to greener mobility.

David: Plenty of challenges, that is for sure, some new, some well-known. But having come through Brexit, Covid and (most of the way through) our Carve Out, we are prepared for whatever is in store. In the UK, we will be working hard to reinforce our dominance in our core market and have ambitious targets to double our Managed Services and EVI revenues. If anyone can, we can!

Thanks for the interview!

If this sounds exactly like the job you are looking for – talk to us! We are always looking for dedicated employees to help us make our streets safer and greener.