World class contractors – key to an exceptional customer experience

World class contractors – key to an exceptional customer experience

One of the most important benefits of a HomeServe repair service plan is access to our exceptional local contractor network whenever an emergency arises. While it can take days for a contractor from the phone book to arrive, a HomeServe customer receives a call back from a qualified, fully-vetted, licensed and insured contractor within one hour to agree upon a convenient time for the contractor to arrive at their home to execute the repair.  The customer also receives an email/text verification of who is coming (including a picture of the technician).

HomeServe assists homeowners with over 450,000 emergency repair jobs each year, covering plumbing, HVAC, electrical and gas. To accomplish this, we have a mix of both directly employed service technicians and a network of over 1,000 contractors across the country to meet the demands of our 3 million customers. It is therefore our job to take the customer’s call, identify the nature of their problem, confirm coverage and deploy the job to a HomeServe technician or network contractor as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Hear from our Director, Repair Management about our philosophy for servicing customers with repair emergencies.

Rigorous vetting process ensures quality and protects consumers

HomeServe is very selective when recruiting contractors to be part of its network. In fact, less than 10% of all contractors researched and interviewed are actually selected to become network contractors. The first step in the process involves researching contractors that meet specific criteria, including: A BBB rating of A or higher; positive feedback of 90% or better by previous customers; and the ability to provide 24/7 emergency service.

Once a contractor meets our strict research criteria, a formal interview is conducted to determine if they have the expertise and equipment to perform the type of work that is required and to ensure they meet our contractor compliance requirements, including:

  • Valid and active licensing, bonding and liability, workers compensation and motor vehicle insurance
  • Certification by the contractor that their employees are legally able to work in the U.S.
  • Drug screening and state background checks
  • References from previous jobs they have completed for residential customers
  • Willingness to sign an agreement with HomeServe that stipulates performance standards, code of conduct and more

Having access to a network of fully-vetted, licensed contractors can protect consumers from potentially expensive problems. According to the Better Business Bureau there are many financial risks of using unlicensed contractors including:

  • Quality – Acquiring a license ensures at least a minimal level of competence in that field.
  • Property values – Unlicensed contractors may fail to obtain permits which can impact the value of the property and failing to disclose information could lead to liability of the seller. In addition, since an unlicensed contractor rarely has liability insurance or a bond, if any work needs to be re-done, the burden falls on the homeowner.
  • Injury – If the contractor does not carry workers compensation insurance, the homeowner who hires that contractor becomes the “employer”, and then is responsible for injuries occurring on the property.
  • Damage to third parties – If a contractor is unlicensed and causes damage to a neighboring property or person, the homeowner may be held responsible for the contractor’s actions. 

Technology increases efficiency and enhances the experience

HomeServe utilizes a mobile field service management platform which enables contractors and their technicians easily accept jobs, schedule them with the customer and provide real-time status updates so that our Operations team can monitor progress from our Command Center. The application also alerts the customer each step of the way through SMS text messaging.

For example, when the job is scheduled, the customer receives a text message with the appointment date and time which can be saved to the calendar on their smart phone. When the technician is on their way to the customer’s home, they can simply press the “On My Way” button which sends a text to the customer with a link to a web site where the location of the technician and their estimated time of arrival can be tracked. The customer can also call the technician or text them if there is something they may need to know before getting on site.

After completing the job, the technician can simply click “Appointment Complete” which sends another text message to the customer to complete a one question survey on the technician’s performance. The results of implementing this mobile solution have been significant. Almost 80% of all jobs are now routing through the platform which has reduced the time to deploy a job by almost 20 seconds, both improving the customer experience and saving over $300k annually in agent handle time

Customers are also much happier which has been clearly seen in their survey scores and written feedback. We are pleased that this industry leading solution has revolutionized the home emergency repair experience in a way that matches the ever increasing expectations of our customers.

A partnership with HomeServe can bring home repair programs backed by world class service to your customers. To learn more about how a partnership can benefit utilities and municipalities, contact us at businessdevelopment@homeserveusa.com.

 

Live from the Southern Gas Association 2017 Marketing, Customer Experience and Communications Conference!

Live from the Southern Gas Association 2017 Marketing, Customer Experience and Communications Conference!

This morning’s session on Contact Center and Operations features our very own Robert Judson, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience at HomeServe. Rob is presenting “Technology and Innovation: Solutions to Deliver a Best-in-Class Customer Experience”

Customer Experience is about more than just a contact center. It starts with a vision: at HomeServe, we want to be the first place people turn to for home emergencies and repairs. It is our mission to free customers from the worry and inconvenience of these repairs.

We want to put the customer at the heart of everything we do. And yes, we do mean it. But how do you turn that vision and mission into reality?

We start with our people. And we arm them with best-in-the-world technology.

Technology that allows our 24/7/365 personally staffed contact center identify the right contractor for the job, dispatching that contractor quickly. In real-time, that contractor lets the customers know they are on the way.

When the job is done, a real time survey ensures the customer is satisfied (did we mention that our customer satisfaction rating is over 98 %?).

Self-service features allow customers to book tune-ups online or use web-chat to quickly get the answers they need. It’s all part of our commitment to making the customer experience effortless, serving the customer via the channel they prefer.

Call-miner is another cutting-edge tool used by HomeServe that backs up these efforts with speech analytics – a technology that mines data from our contact center conversations – providing insights that allow for real time action when needed as well as ongoing trend analysis.

Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do means taking ownership of their emergency, and that means listening to the customer at every interaction. But listening is more than just a ranking exercise, it means asking the right questions. And once those questions are asked, figuring out what the answers are telling you. Enter Rant and Rave, a start of the art feedback machine, designed to gather survey responses from our customers and translate it into meaningful insights that drive business process.

At HomeServe, we use this data to be the Voice of the Customer, as Rob Judson put it, because “we are all guardians of the customer experience”.

Let HomeServe show you how this works!

We will provide SGA conference attendees with a no-cost opportunity to take the pulse of their customers by providing access to this important technology. We will provide the utility with a link to use to send to their customer base and gather important feedback. We think it’s a good way to show that HomeServe can add real value to utilities. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this free survey offer, please Len Mize, Business Development, at len.mize@homeserveusa.com or 484-241-7285.

So why leverage technology to innovate customer service delivery? Because consumer expectations are changing, and we must change with them.

Time for some questions!

What is HomeServe’s agent happiness rating? It’s a survey of our agents about how happy they are. This isn’t about how satisfied an employee is, this is about how happy they are to come to work. Ensuring we have happy employees allows us to deliver the best experience to our customer.

Next Up:

Ebony Roberts, Manager, Customer Care and Ops with Southern Company Gas, speaking to us about their Chat pilot, an extension of their social media team. The pilot began in May 2017 at the Riverdale contact center, serving the Chattanooga Gas LDC, and there are plans to expand!

The technology used is Avaya Elite Multi Channel, which is voice, email and chat compatible.

As of now, chat is offered to customers who use “my account” functionality. Customers can use chat to interact with Chattanooga Gas about payments, billing, autopay, budget plans, bill and payment history and profile updates.

The chat interaction flow is assisted by the use of auto-text to deliver standard messages, ensuring the customer experience is consistently delivered. A customer can connect to an agent via chat in 23 seconds with an average chat time of 6:45. The goal is to provide a consistent customer experience across all service delivery channels.

Feedback from attendees suggested it’s important to focus on one or maybe two chats at a time to ensure a quality experience. Selecting agents for this effort is also key, agents who can roll back and forth between chat and other contact interactions have a different skill set. Southern Company Gas worked with their training group to develop an assessment to help identify agents who were best suited for this type of work. Agents would respond to mock chat conversations live as part of the assessment, providing insights into how well the agent responds in writing and their depth of knowledge of “my account” functionality.

Social media engagement is also a part of this plan! With over 25,000 followers, portfolio-wide they are reaching an audience of over 850,000 with content.

A positive impact of growth in these channels helps with a utilities’ employee retention, allowing for career-pathing and different work environments that builds excitement in the call center.

Speaking of chatting…

A great dialogue about speech analytics and predictive analytics followed the presentations. For some, speech analytics showed that about 30% of their call time is silence. Rob Judson offered that HomeServe has been to get call silence is down to single digits by utilizing the technology to help identify training and coaching opportunities.

Predictive analytics is presenting intelligence about the call to agents in real time based on speech, IVR selection and knowledge about the customer in the CIS system, such as a high bill or recent outage. This is another technology that helps deliver an excellent customer experience.

Finally, the attendees discussed the importance of ensuring agents are involved in the entire process, inviting them to participate in focus groups for example, encourages employee buy-in, and helps ensure the success of these new technologies in the meeting the actual goal of improving the customer experience.

A great session with tremendous feedback from the group!

Learn more about how a HomeServe partnership can complement your customer engagement efforts! Contact Len Mize, Senior Director Business Development for Energy and Utilities, at len.mize@homeserve.com or 484-241-7285.