During your first spell, when did you come to HomeServe and in what capacity?
Johnny: I was a young lad of 20 when I joined HomeServe in 2002, which seems a long time ago now! My first role was as a Customer Service Representative in the Outbound team. I had no idea if I would enjoy my new found career but I fell in love with the place and people. My first period of employment with the business lasted 10 years and I moved from a telephone based role through to leading circa 75FTE within our contact centre in Walsall.
Greg: Tenure is an important measure of whether an organisation is getting it right for its People. There aren’t many businesses around now where People have jobs for life – the nature of employment has changed; companies are different and employees are more mobile and seek out new opportunities. The disappearance of the final salary pension has probably contributed to this. But it has to be the right kind of tenure – generated by genuine loyalty and careers that are challenging and rewarding, rather than stasis.
What was the company like back then?
Johnny: When I joined, the business was much smaller. The Outbound function I was part of had around 60 People but during my time it grew to 250. It was very fast-paced and commercially was very successful through a short term lens. But there was no doubt in my mind that, by the time I left after 10 years, the focus we had was on winning new Customers and not taking care of our Customers in the way that we should. That is the opposite of where we are today.
Greg: I arrived at HomeServe after the highs and lows Johnny talks about and my job, supporting Martin, was to get us back to two things – growing our business again, and doing so in the right way with an absolute focus on putting Customers first. I think Johnny is very diplomatic about where we were!
Why did you leave?
Johnny: My role was put at risk of redundancy. It was a difficult time personally but I had an opportunity to try something new. I had always had a keen interest in property and was presented with an opportunity to work for Countryside Estate and Letting Agents. I became a property valuer and then moved to Reeds Rains as a Branch Manager.
Greg: The department Johnny was a manager in had effectively ceased to exist in terms of the work it was doing because we had stopped selling over the telephone. Although it was a very tough and scary thing to do at the time – especially for the People who worked in that area – it was absolutely necessary and in many ways, set us up to change the business in the way that we have. People felt that our core strength was selling and in fact Customers told us that HomeServe was a company that sold them stuff, none of that is sustainable if your core business is really about offering a service.
What made you want to come back?
Johnny: Whilst I enjoyed my time in property I missed working at HomeServe. I missed everything about it: the people, the business, the fast-paced environment and the sense of achievement on a daily basis by serving our Customers. I stayed in contact with my friends and former colleagues on a regular basis. I heard about a number of opportunities and applied for a role. I was unsuccessful first time but at my second attempt, I secured a management role within our Retention department. It has been the best move I have made in my career to date. Since my return in 2014 I have secured a more senior role within our Operations function and am enjoying every minute.
Greg: By the time Johnny came back I had been in situ at HomeServe for about a year and by then had the opportunity to see first-hand the position we had been in. A number of People who had worked with Johnny in his previous HomeServe role spoke very highly of him so we were delighted to have him back.
I think someone coming back into the business after a sabbatical in the way that Johnny did can bring a great deal with them and add to what we are doing. There is definitely value, for some People, in gaining new experiences and we are benefitting from this.
How have you found things during your second spell?
Johnny: It’s been brilliant in many ways on a personal front but the key thing for me has been seeing how much the company has changed for the better. Two of the most significant things for me are how we have rebalanced our focus on Customers back to where it should be and, perhaps more importantly, really empowered the People of HomeServe to absolutely do the right things for our Customers.
Looking at the first change, during my initial decade at HomeServe, I worked in a sales function, and there is no doubt it was one of the areas we needed to address. We know now how important taking care of Customers is. Of course we want new Customers to experience what we do, but I don’t think we will ever do that at to the expense of our existing Customers.
And to make this possible, the key that I have seen since I came back is empowerment – giving our People the ability to get things done. We treat our Customers as if they were family. We’ll try to help them in difficult situations even if the thing they are experiencing is not covered under their policy. I don’t know of any other business that goes out of their way to do the right thing like we do.
I am really proud to say I work for HomeServe (again!) and I am looking forward to a bright future. Hopefully I’ll stay for many more years.
Greg: It’s great to hear Johnny saying these things, he is a wonderful advocate and, because he has experienced at first hand where we have been, he is absolutely qualified to comment on where we are going.
Working with People like Johnny, giving them back the Customer focus they so longed-for and empowering them to get on and do it has been one of the most satisfying parts of my job. Doing this is fundamental to us achieving our Effortless Strategy so, for one of our People at least, we’re getting it right.