Awards International Chairman Don Hales returns for more biting observations on Customer Experience. In the Don’s sights this week are one of the UK’s handiest stores for home improvement, and a Greek restaurant that would have you smashing your plates…for all the wrong reasons. To nominate who YOU want to see as future Heroes & Villains, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story concerns HomeServe, the home assistance company, and one of their engineers, Michael Harrison.
Some time ago, Michael was driving to repair an issue for a customer, an elderly lady who he had visited before. Because she was a nice lady who had made him welcome, he was looking forward to the call and half-expected her to be at the door waiting, as so many elderly customers are.
However, not only was she not at the door waiting, she failed to answer when he rang the bell. Thinking something might be wrong, he went to the back of the property and peered through a window, where he could see his customer lying face down unconscious.
Michael quickly removed the window pane so he could enter her home. Being CPR trained thanks to another branch of his life, he promptly applied his skills and resuscitated the lady, saving her life.
After the ambulance took her away, he completed the initial repair, replaced the broken pane of glass, then went to visit her in hospital with a bunch of flowers.
But the story does not end there! When he reported the incident to his CEO, Greg Reed, he pointed out that other engineers might find customers in similar situations but would not be able to do what he did.
He suggested that all engineers should be CPR trained. Greg agreed, and they quickly trained all 1,200 engineers in CPR techniques. I do not know what this cost the company in training expenses and engineer time, but I do know that since then another customer’s life has been saved.
Several other people have also been saved by the newly trained engineers away from their business duties.
HomeServe has made an astonishing transformation in the last few years to become one of the UK’s outstanding Customer Experience leaders and this story perfectly illustrates the magic that happens when a real commitment to CX excellence from the company leaders is taken up with enthusiasm by all team members.
This story appears courtesy of Alex Mead, a Customer Experience Director and a leading commentator on customer issues.
His problem was with British Gas, who were sending an engineer to quote for a new boiler. An appointment was made, and Alex was moderately put out when it was not kept.
He reported this to the company and waited for a new date. The next day he received a feedback questionnaire saying, “thank you for allowing us to visit your home and to provide you with a quotation”.
Patiently, Alex replied that he could not provide feedback on the visit as the appointment had not been kept. Not to be put off from allowing their process to continue rolling, the company then sent him an email – reminding him of the non-existent visit and sending him a link to view the quote.
Unsurprisingly, the link did not work as there was no quotation due to there being no visit. This is one of many situations where organisations allow their service to be process rather than customer-driven.
To be fair, I picked up this story from a LinkedIn posting by Alex, and British Gas also picked up on it and offered apologies for their actions and a fast resolution.
I do not know how Alex is now feeling but the company has clearly damaged its reputation here and must consider itself in danger of losing a customer in a competitive marketplace.