How might we make repairs efficient whilst also providing a positive experience for customers?



This was the seventh of our discovery sessions around the 10 ‘how might we’ questions that make up our current exploration pipeline.

Working out loud is one of our Lab guiding principles and we are really keen to share both our colleagues work and their ideas. We are sharing the high-level themes which emerge from each session, rather than waiting for them to be worked up into something more substantial. Following the sessions, the next steps will be for Innovation and Insight to work up some solid test plans based on what we learned and we will, of course, be sharing more about those in due course.

Workshop Summary

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The output from previous service design work formed the starting point for this workshop.

Two workshops took place independently of each other across two sites. The purpose of the workshops was to:

  • Identify what we mean by efficient? Is this contextual?
    • Bromford
    • Customer
  • Identify what we mean by a positive customer experience?
    • How do we know this is true?
    • How can we find out more about what customers value?
  • Define a set of principles which can be applied across the 9 other 'how might we' questions in order to learn more about this topic.

In order to help understand a specific challenge it is sometimes useful to think about the problem analogously. By thinking about a scenario which is similar in context to the problem at hand, it is possible to draw a comparison and generate thoughts or ideas which help us to understand the fundamental issues at play.

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Whilst this is one of 10 questions we are exploring, as efficiency and positive customer experiences are themes which cut across the 9 other questions, we wanted to focus less on ideas and tests in this workshop and more on defining what being efficient actually means, and what constitutes a positive experience.


  • Often efficiency for an organisation means making systems and processes ‘leaner’ in order to remove ‘waste’. A risk is that we fall into the trap of thinking that efficiency needs to be about speed and low costs.
  • Customers often think less about systemic efficiency and more in terms of experience. To a customer, efficiency can often mean timeliness, which doesn't always mean the fastest or cheapest option, but simply getting something with the least amount of effort, when, where and how they need or want it.

 Positive Experience

  • Whilst better systems may help in this area, there are gaps which are filled through human interaction and reporting, therefore, colleagues need the right tools and robust, simple procedures to facilitate this.
  • Fulfilment is an important factor in whether a customer perceives an experience to be positive. Were their expectations met? Did the service fulfil their requirements?

 During conversations two key considerations emerged:

  1. The Good, Fast, Cheap Trade-off - We sometimes think we need to achieve all three of these to provide customer satisfaction, but is this really the case? Using examples such as Ryanair vs. Emirates, people are often willing to make trade-offs, but the key to satisfaction is a clear service offer which enables clear expectations to be set from the outset and the ability for those expectations to be met.
  2. The Incentive, Convenience, Ability, Expectation Ratio - Given the choice and some arms-length help, during the recent bad weather customers were often happier to defrost their boiler overflow pipe and reset/restart their boiler themselves, rather than waiting for an engineer. This helped customers to get heat and hot water quicker and also enabled our engineers to concentrate on fixing more complex issues. Often a positive customer experience depends on balancing a range of contextual factors.
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Key areas to focus on include:


Providing a clear service offer which is underpinned by clear, visible processes should provide a solid foundation for being efficient whilst at the same time achieving positive experiences.


Providing the right tools for both colleagues and customers to get the information they need and want at the time and place that suits them will result in better decision making and should lead to less wasted time, and greater satisfaction levels.

During the workshop, some key fundamental principles emerged and colleagues were keen for us to test ways to bring each principle to life:

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We are exploring this topic as part of our wider work around the programmeOne projects; Project 3 - Asset Management (Land Services, Housing Planning and Construction) and Project 4 - Customer Management. We will be working with colleagues in the coming weeks to look at developing some tests to support both of these project areas and will work to ensure that the fundamental principles set out during this workshop are taken into consideration when developing any new tests.


@simon_penny & @ChelleKButler