Four, not three, is the magic number

It has been four incredible years for me at HomeServe so I thought I'd share the four things that make it special to work here these days.

I also think these are four things which can be done at any business that has the desire to be great.

1) We have a work place environment that is like no other. We were just named No. 3 in the UK for work life balance out of over 20,000 companies rated on Glassdoor and HR magazine selected my boss Martin, the CEO, as the UK’s ‘Most People-focused CEO’. Working at HomeServe is fun, it is productive, it is supportive, and it is now becoming award-winning. I think the most important part of the mix is the lack of hierarchy. Martin is always thrilled that he knows so many of the front line guys. I'm the same way, as are the rest of the board of execs. When our People know and feel that everyone is important, and that we are all equally supported to do our job as best we can, then they give that little bit extra… which quickly turns good into great.

2) We have a real sense of purpose. HomeServe was a business without a real purpose in the years when it was all about sales and growth. We now know that providing effortless service for our Customers at a time when they really need it is our mission. We just want to make our Customers’ lives easier. We started all of that by increasing the value of our products to our Customers. We did that by removing all of the exclusions that we could and encouraged our Customers to claim. I'm certain that we are the only Insurer of our size (5.5m policies) that has intentionally doubled the claim rate on our products. Then to make sure we knew our People knew how useful the products were themselves, we gave them all our flagship product which cost us £1m but paid us back much more in feedback and staff engagement. You can see this in our TrustPilot scores where we now have over 5000 5* reviews.

3) Communication of that purpose is critical. We communicate our strategy, we listen and discuss, then we communicate it again and then we listen and discuss, and then we keep repeating that cycle. We had a visit from our regulator, the FCA, after our strategy had been in place about a year. They went and sat with People in the call centre that they selected, listened to them take calls and also just chatted about working at HomeServe. The FCA said that they had never been to a company where the front line staff had such a strong and clear understanding of the corporate strategy. We think everyone is important so everyone needs to know what we are trying to do and the context of why we are doing it. We have: All-staff cascades, weekly CEO updates, weekly CMO updates, a twice monthly live video broadcast with the CEO, execs who sit out in our open-plan offices, newsletters in some areas, yammer (our internal social media tool), floor stand-ups, Facebook, where we have allowed the line between work and home to become blurred, Twitter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, CMO 1-2-1s with hundreds of staff, required Customer listening programs for all office staff, man in a van day for managers, bookclubs, dedicated (and branded!) SUV transport for continuous rotating site visits for front line staff, roadshows for engineers, audio broadcasts for engineers, these blog posts and much much more. It is the toughest part of my job but also the most rewarding as I can see the difference that it makes.

4) Our People truly own our purpose. We’ve created the ability for our People to demand good outcomes for Customers, which is what they always wanted to do. I've talked about CustomerFirst before but I believe it is the single biggest transformational initiative that I've ever seen in business. CustomerFirst allows all of our staff to say yes when computer says no. It fixes those tricky situations that happen in Financial Services where the process works but the Customer is not happy.

They will have received a fair outcome but we want good outcomes. We want our People to do what they would do if it were their own small business. We want them to be able to go outside the terms and conditions to just make the Customer happy. To do something special that makes them proud to tell People they work at HomeServe. We put a fund in place to pay for this extra work not covered by the policies and in less than three years our People will have soon spent nearly £500k. That means each of our staff has spent £200 each going above and beyond as they say. That is the wiggle room that allows them to own it and make it right for Customers. Is it working? On Glassdoor our staff rate our Culture & Values at 4.7 out of 5.0 which I would imagine is one of the highest scores in the UK.

Joining HomeServe four years ago gave me the opportunity to focus on something that I had hoped would be true and has turned out to be absolutely 100% without a doubt true: If you take care of your People, they will look after the Customers, and the rest will take care of itself.