How… is it possible to set and meet Customer expectations consistently?

We had a little bashing on a well-known morning television show recently. Without revealing any names, or sharing anything not already in the public domain, here is what happened.

We had a little bashing on a well-known morning television show recently. Without revealing any names, or sharing anything not already in the public domain, here is what happened. A presenter on the show called us on a Monday night because her boiler was not working. We made an appointment the next day and sent out an engineer. He arrived the next day and diagnosed the problem correctly right away. The fix required a new part but the part in question was no longer produced by the boiler’s manufacturer. We could have fitted a secondary-market part not approved by the manufacturer as many would but instead we informed the Customer she would be getting a brand new boiler and that we would call to arrange a survey and installation. We arranged for a new boiler to be installed by the manufacturer on the earliest day they could attend which was the next Saturday. Saturday is five days after the first call and replacing a boiler is not the same as fixing a boiler; it takes a bit of time. In the end we found one of our franchisees who was willing to travel a little way and fit it on the Thursday.

I have to say that me and the rest of the company were shocked when the presenter went on television – on the day her new boiler was being installed - and told her story. It wasn’t to thank us for a job well done and to say that her product worked as expected. Everything she said however was true and while we thought we’d done a good job, we just did not meet her expectations. It did take time to get her boiler replaced and she thought that could happen faster. 

One of the reporters on the show then went on to compare our product to competitor products. The products have very different features but we were all lumped in together. We are uniquely transparent and show our first and second year price. However viewers were warned to watch out for our second year price which was a bit unfair since the others only shared their first year price. We were dinged for being transparent. At £15 a month with a £95 excess the question was asked if this type of cover was worth it. I’d say in this example definitely yes but it is easy to look backwards. British Gas charge over £3,000 on average for a new boiler. This Customer got one for circa £15 a month plus that excess. We also got there the next day to identify the problem and then offered to replace the boiler without any haggling. No excuses just a shiny new boiler. Which brings me back to my question: is it possible to set and meet Customer expectations consistently?

We recently had a bit of good news from two external sources that we follow closely to track our service is meeting expectations. We are on a journey but we’ve made some good progress the last few years. Trading Standards recently shared that we had only five complaints in December which were all resolved by the time of our monthly review. Five is too many but if you compare that five years ago when we had nearly 100 a month, you can grasp just how far we have come. And when you consider that we did 80k repairs across the UK in the month of December, then five, although too many, seems pretty low. Following this news, we received the latest Customer Service Index results from the UK Customer Service Institute. Their index is gathered from an independent survey compiled from consumers across the UK. According to their data, we are the most improved company in the UK for Customer Satisfaction in the Services sector since they began measuring in 2009. We scored 79.9 which is up from our all time low of 65.9 back in 2009 and also up on our score of 78.3 last year. That is steady progress. In fact they do a survey every 6 months and we have gone up in each of the last seven surveys.  

A good example of how to set expectations and deliver on them.

I recently ordered my wife, Melissa, a set of two Riedel wine glasses online from John Lewis. When they arrived one was broken. I went online expecting to be asked to ship them back but was instead asked to send in a picture of the broken glass. I got a quick response back from John Lewis when they received the picture saying that they would ship out a new set, to dispose of the broken one carefully, and to enjoy the extra glass that didn’t break. John Lewis didn’t do this because they are nice people, although they probably are. They did it because it is part of their service strategy. Did they do it for free? No, they charged me for it when I paid their price for the glasses. I just checked now and the same glasses are available on ebay for £2 cheaper. I knew that without looking when I ordered them but still spent the extra money because I know with John Lewis if anything goes wrong they will sort it. I also know they are not the cheapest and I will pay a bit more but they also are fairly priced.

A good example of how to set expectations and fail to deliver on them.

We recently ordered take out from Deliveroo. They position themselves as a slightly more premium option than Just Eat with more upscale branding and the use of words like “premium restaurants". I used them before and when it works, it works well. This time the driver arrived and explained that he had turned over on his bike and that all the food had spilled out of the boxes and into his thermal back pack. Once we had asked about his welfare (he was fine) he asked if we wanted him to dump the food out for us. I told him no, because we wanted our food in boxes. The restaurant called us soon after to explain that it was Deliveroo's issue and that they, the restaurant, would not be replacing the food. I explained that we would still like to eat dinner. The restaurant said that Deliveroo would refund the first order and I could order again but that I’d have to do it through Deliveroo. I did. The food came and even though we had paid twice, the meal was good. I went online and sent an email to Deliveroo through their site explaining what happened. To make a long story short they never refunded the money and so I disputed the charge though Amex, who were great. I’ll never use Deliveroo again. They gave me the impression that they were a premium service but actually when something went wrong they proved to me they were not.

We want to provide the best service we can for our Customers. We are not the cheapest in the market but we believe we are fairly priced and our combination of great products – products that work – delivered by People who care will carry us to our goal of being the number one Home Assistance company in the UK providing effortless service to our Customers. We don’t always get it right and sometimes our Customers’ expectations are different to what we can physically deliver, but I know that based on indicators like the UKCSI, we are on our way.