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The idea of shifting to a personalised repairs service has an obvious allure - yet it seemed out of reach until we began testing our ‘starting well engineer’ (name still in progress...) concept.

Jason Holder, who heads up the servicing and maintenance of our homes,  wanted to see whether we could design out the most common demands on Bromford.

Without making things too complicated, we set out to answer the question what if we gave basic 'training' to customers to build their confidence in tackling day to day repairs - rather than doing all the repairs for them?

We based our prototype service around the most frequent repairs jobs reported online or into our contact team. Some are clearly very simple, others a little more challenging - but our customers reactions in an early scoping session helped us decide what was most appropriate to start out with.

We identified Rob Dudley as the engineer we wanted to deliver the service during its first test phase. Rob exuded the right attitudes around coaching and enabling rather than doing and building dependencies. As such, Rob was actively involved in designing our first prototype and getting it ready for small scale trials. Here’s what Rob thought about the experience…

 

When I originally heard about the innovation lab it was always a bit of a dream to think I would have the opportunity to get involved!  I love trying new things and have lots of ideas about how we can help our customers, something I’m very passionate about. I’m always looking out for a new challenge and this concept helped get some ideas from my head and into the open, unlocking both the customers and my potential in the process.  
Jason gave me the chance to deliver the service during initial testing and design. In the kick off sessions I was thinking ‘what can I bring to the table to make this really work for our customers?’. All these great ideas were starting to emerge, but I felt I had more to give. That night I went got loads of old used parts out the van and started to build a portable customer training board in my garage.
        My own prototype training board! 

        My own prototype training board! 

 
Customers have loved this, and no longer have to bend down to see what their stop cock looks like or find out how it works. There’s maybe 15 different demonstration parts to show them.
On my first appointment I let the customer know that this was a new service Bromford were testing out and this was my first visit. The feedback from that visit was great. After a few more visits, I started focusing on the customer's weak points (picked up on a quick pre-survey) rather than just showing people what they know, like how to tighten a screw. This way, each customer gets an entirely personalised experience. I make sure I don’t leave until they are much more confident in the repairs they can make and how. #Fact  
The testing so far has been very rewarding and I'm very honored to have been chosen to play a big part and to help shape the service for our customers. There’s still work to do, a few tweaks here and a few tweaks there, but I do believe this could become a great success story. Am I keen to be involved in more design work in the future? ...It’s in my DNA.

More often than not, service design can take place behind closed doors - determining the work of colleagues instead of with colleagues. A small but diverse team were instrumental in getting the initial prototype ready so quickly, a lesson we're keen to replicate with for upcoming lab concepts. 

The team are nearing completion of the first 8 week phase, designed specifically to identify what sort of issues could trip this service up. We found a few issues, big and small, and the good news is we’re eliminating or minimizing them in an attempt to maximise the value we can deliver to customers and the business.

More information coming soon - keep your eyes peeled for an update!

 

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