Damp and condensation is not a particularly sexy subject. It won’t hit the headlines like when we experimented with drones, and I doubt it sparks mass interest like our work of fuel poverty or the future of homes. With that said, we’ve made leaps and bounds redesigning the service for ease, pace and definitive resolution, key aspects of customer service in any area.
Every winter, the business braces itself for an influx of calls about mould and condensation. In the not too distant past our response to this annual event was resource heavy but still vague, often leaving customers dissatisfied. Our surveyors would be booked out for back to back inspections and typically revisit the same customer more than once per winter. Condensation had always been attributed to lifestyle and our surveyors felt unable to make more proactive decisions. Contact centre colleagues felt lost on where to turn customers next.
With a total redesign, we are hoping this winter will be different. We’re currently trialing a new process that focuses on customer service and speedy resolution. We have up-skilled our contact centre colleagues and put a surveyor on hand to help diagnose and, in most cases, resolve the problem over the phone. If this isn’t possible the case is immediately escalated to home inspection with a surveyor, who now record their findings electronically. They measure humidity, airflow and surface moisture along with noting down the type of windows, insulation, boiler and other structural aspects. They are encouraged to ask whether the customer can afford to use the heating sufficiently or if they have to dry clothes on radiators. The same electronic form allows pictures to be attached as evidence, a final diagnosis, what action has been put in place and if anything else is required. If it is found that expensive or structural works are necessary to genuinely solve the damp or condensation the case is escalated again, with the electronic form (and measurements) acting as evidence to why it is necessary.
By creating a tiered process we have clearly defined necessary steps which can be taken and put some power back into the surveyors hands. Customers see progress and feel that resolution is within reach, hopefully breaking the infinite loop where customers would have to complain to get a positive outcome.
First indications are good. Compared to last year, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in calls. However as this work is not done in isolation, it’s likely that a number of other factors have contributed to this. The unusually calm weather in October, extensive SAP upgrade programme, boiler replacements, active ventilation pilots - they all probably also play a part. With that said, even if the tiered service isn’t responsible for a reduction in calls, it’s clearly encouraging surveyors to be bold in their recommendations - something that should fix condensation issues for good and greatly improve customer satisfaction.