HomeServe releases its customer-centric recipe for success
In challenging times, such as those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, customer-centric companies have the upper hand. HomeServe, alongside its latest research, which surveyed 8,800 people in 11 countries, has released its model for success in a world where customers value their home comforts more than ever.
Customers are the beating heart of any successful business
The ‘Customer Centricity’ report presents a treasure trove of information that gives partners a snapshot into the customer’s mind. It also offers a recipe for success containing the “essential ingredients for delivering a customer centric home services experience that has customers at the heart.”
Let’s review the eight fundamentals needed to make customers feel like they matter.
1. Purpose that meets customers’ yearning for simplicity Every company has a purpose but that’s not sufficient in itself; it must actually be aligned with the customers’ needs. HomeServe’s research shows this is a priority with almost three quarters of respondents who say they “look positively on companies that make their lives easy.” At HomeServe, this means offering a home repairs and improvement programme that’s simple enough to understand, yielding customers that are 30% more likely to be loyal to the provider.
2. Keeping an ear to the ground to zero in on customers’ needs Knowing what customers need requires a constant feedback loop. This can be achieved in many ways whether it’s through post-service surveys, focus groups, research or complaint analysis. It’s also crucial to understand how these needs evolve over time. For example, 29% of homeowners on average say breakdowns have been happening more often since the beginning of the pandemic, probably as a result of increased use.
3. Propositions must alleviate customers’ fears and concerns Not all propositions are created equal in the eyes of homeowners. The detail matters a great deal and can directly alleviate the concerns and fears homeowners put at the top of their list year after year. For example, 77% said they were concerned that the repairs they ask for won’t be done properly. As a result, value, service, and expertise are key factors they consider. At HomeServe, all products are scored according to their value for money and the benefit mix is adjusted regularly to reflect changes. The goal is to ensure products are useful and used. The fact that customers buy up to 2.6 products each demonstrates they recognise the value.
4. The right touchpoints Our research shows that customers actually don’t mind being contacted as long as it’s relevant and has a clear purpose. A majority (64%) finds communications about home services very (or extremely) useful – particularly if they provide pricing information or present a programme which saves money and time (such as home assistance membership). Reminders for maintenance are also very appreciated (62%). As for the right touchpoint, the telephone remains a favourite at 57%, followed by email at 44%. But when on the phone, two-thirds of customers prefer speaking to a human operator in their own country.
5. Seeing complaints as an opportunity for improvements Complaints are part and parcel of doing business; the key is to put in place processes to collect and analyse them in order to resolve them constructively and learn from them. The first step towards the successful resolution of complaints is offering the right channels to receive them. When customers are dissatisfied, they reach for the means of communication that feels most comfortable to them. Our research shows that 62% (and 74% of over 55s) of homeowners reach for the phone while 50% prefer email to make a complaint. Dealing with problems correctly is worth the effort considering two thirds (67%) of homeowners are likely to remain if a complaint is dealt with very well.
6. “If you look after your people they, in turn, will look after your customers” Many customers have experienced less-than-stellar staff performances that ended up with them leaving and vowing never to return. This happened to half of our respondents who say they have negative feelings towards a company due to a bad interaction with a staff member. HomeServe believes it’s by taking care of its own first that they can ensure a high-quality customer service down the line. They even have a charter about it called Our people promises. The promises are underpinned by an inclusive culture which values diversity, a continually evolving employee engagement strategy as well as a recruitment, onboarding and coaching journey that ensures the “right people are on the bus”.
7. Never rest on your laurels So far, the model has focused on several pillars of customer-centric service but how is its success measured? Each company can define what it considers measures of success. This will depend on what drives customer satisfaction in their industry. That said customers generally want to be treated fairly, get value and ease for money, and be confident that their personal data is safe. Additionally, our research shows that a vast majority (82%) of the customers we surveyed look positively on a company who simply ‘does what it says it will’. But measuring success is not the end of the road. The process must constantly be questioned and reviewed in light of feedback from customers.
8. Caring can be very rewarding High and consistent retention rates are always sought after in any industry and they are the results of many factors. One of these is to “be a good neighbour”. A third of the homeowners we surveyed confirm that they would be more likely to use a company if it takes extra care with the vulnerable. Caring can take many forms but it may include hiring local trades people, keeping in mind more vulnerable customers such as the elderly, engaging in green initiatives and charitable causes; all things HomeServe employees around the world are involved in. As a reward, HomeServe enjoys retention rates that are consistently above 80%.
Changing needs require changing approaches
There’s no denying COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on businesses and consumers alike. For customers, being confined fully or partially for months means casting a narrower focus on all things home related. More than ever, they want to feel safe and comfortable, and expect simplicity and a fast response if a problem arises. In other words, their expectations are greater than before the pandemic hit.
According to our research, 73% of homeowners expect companies to do more to keep them safe. Two thirds also expect more informative communications (66%) and higher levels of service (63%).
Companies have had to embrace customer-centric approaches that bring solutions in line with needs and expectations. HomeServe’s model can serve as a roadmap to ensure the customer remains at the heart of any customer experience.
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