“If we’re quicker on a job, it’s better for the Customer and cheaper for us. Our engineer is available for his next job. That’s a massive timesaving and therefore, we’re more profitable.”
That’s the view of Gavin Young, Service Delivery Manager at HomeServe.
We caught up with Gavin to understand how PartsArena was making a difference to HomeServe’s gas servicing and boiler repair operations. We wanted to learn how, and why, such a huge household name had utilised our software, with customer care at the fore.
Support for millions
Operating nationally, HomeServe has over a million customers. Not just for gas boiler servicing either. The UK home assistance provider helps with plumbing, drainage and electrical problems too.
HomeServe is a big field service player that employs many thousands of people.
With a team of 300 gas engineers, each with a PartsArena Pro licence, work is scheduled and managed using field service software on their tablets. PartsArena Pro is vitally important to this job management process.
“When a part is required – identified by a boiler service or fault diagnosis – that’s when PartsArena Pro really comes into play,” said Gavin.
Single source of parts information
“The part number is the start of the process. Without it, things would get very fraught. Different suppliers can reference parts in different ways. But the part number, that’s industry standard. Everyone knows what the part is the world over.
So, unless the engineer is carrying the part in his van, he’ll be straight on to PartsArena Pro to identify it. Our main supplier is Wolseley, but there are times when we order from other businesses. A less common part, for example.
PartsArena Pro saves us a huge amount of time and effort in identifying the right part. It’s our central, single source of parts information. We don’t have to keep speaking to suppliers, we just use PartsArena. And that’s what our 300 gas engineers are doing daily,” he said.
When HomeServe started using PartsArena Pro, mobile signal was not always reliable. Even today, there are geographic areas where this is the case. Given that PartsArena works offline, Gavin acknowledged this distinct advantage for their engineers.
“It’s one of the reasons we run PartsArena Pro locally on every engineer’s tablet. There could be times when you’re in the middle of Dartmoor. So, installing it locally means it’s always available,” explained Gavin.
Ease of use
HomeServe’s engineers include newly recruited apprentices and seasoned veterans that have worked elsewhere. Many already know what they’re doing. And that makes the introduction to PartsArena Pro straight forward.
“Engineers that have worked elsewhere see the benefit straight away. They can directly compare their past experience of not having PartsArena Pro to hand.
They don’t need to spend much time working out how to use the program either. It’s covered in half an hour as part of their induction. Integral to their tablet, it’s not difficult to use. And whilst some engineers are more digitally native than others, we have no issues getting everyone on-board. They’re a mobile digital workforce these days,” said Gavin.
Why customer care comes first
As a service provider, the customer remains at the core of HomeServe. The objective is always to deliver a fix as quickly as possible. With good business reasons too.
“Everything that benefits the Customer is good for us. It means we’re more efficient. And if we’re more efficient, we’re better off in terms of cost. The two go hand in hand; they always should. If we’re giving a better Customer experience, we’ll be delivering efficiencies for the business too. We’re making more money.
Everybody should work this way. Better Customer service means better Customer retention. It all feeds into the bottom line eventually. Being Customer focused is a more profitable route to take,” said Gavin.
PartsArena Pro helps to deliver the speed of fix that HomeServe strives to maintain. Gavin was quite clear that the tool is there to identify the right part more quickly, reducing time wasted on-site.
Adding PartsArena Office to the mix
You’d be forgiven for thinking that PartsArena is always a tool for your mobile device. That’s certainly the job of the Pro version.
But HomeServe demonstrates how another format, PartsArena Office, powers its parts team and other support areas of the business.
“Our tablet app automatically feeds orders into the parts team, here at HomeServe. They’re picking up the details and can check for accuracy using PartsArena Office on the PC. Sometimes, an engineer forgets to give a part number, or perhaps the boiler number. This is when our parts team can smooth the process.
We have an ordering team using PartsArena Office too. They might be replenishing van stock to our internal model or ordering parts that are out of stock at Wolsley. Essentially, they’re charged with getting the right parts at the right price in the right time.” Gavin explained.
HomeServe also has gas safety officers using PartsArena Office on their laptops. Their role is to check the work for legal compliance, ensuring the correct parts have been installed. Additionally, team leaders will have access to PartsArena Office, giving them parts knowledge to supplement their technical expertise.
The future looks integrated
Not surprisingly, HomeServe wants to raise its game further with more integration and faster service. Gavin told us they’re working towards full automation. Parts orders would ultimately be created by engineers and directly processed by Wolseley for swift delivery.
“It’s very much a case of putting the power in the engineers’ hands. They should be able to identify the right part quickly, order it in minutes and know exactly when it’ll be available. It’s all about resolving the Customer’s problem quickly.
I think there is potential for us to reduce the visit time further. For example, if the part is available and close enough, the engineer might be able to pick it up and return to the customer immediately, achieving a fix. This removes the need to re-allocate additional time for the job and undertake a further visit.
Even if this ideal world isn’t possible soon, we aim to be in a position where we can communicate much more clearly and immediately with the Customer. If the engineer can see the planning and scheduling, he should be able to explain when he’ll return with the replacement part and complete the job.
And that is what the Customer wants, which is why it’s our focus.”