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CMO Of The Month - Homeserve

August 2, 2016


HomeServe Is Changing Customers Lives for the Better

Three years ago, HomeServe is far removed from the company that it is today. Under the leadership of our UK CEO Martin Bennett, and supported by a fantastic executive team, we’ve spent huge amounts of time and resources reshaping our business and culture. It’s not been an easy journey by any means, but by building the HomeServe brand from the inside out, we’ve achieved something incredibly special.

Our headquarters are in Walsall in the West Midlands and we have two thousand nine hundred employees across our UK sites, which also include Preston, Banbury, Nottingham and London, as well our nationwide network of engineers helping our Customers every day. We’re proud to serve more than two million customers across the UK who trust us when it comes to fixing, maintaining and looking after their homes.

We also work alongside a range of major utility and energy companies – eighteen in total, including many familiar household names – to deliver our products and services into the nations’ homes. Our aim is to make our services as effortless as possible for customers and be recognised as the number one home assistance company in the UK.

We started the process by focusing on our people, as our staff own the customer experience each and every time. I’m a big believer that if you take care of your people, they will take care of your customers, and the rest will take care of itself. I’m very fortunate to have a fantastic team working with me. By getting the right people beside you and having them all driving towards the same goals, it’s pretty easy to stay positive and focused.

Martin Bennett, our CEO, has been a tremendous support to me both professionally and personally and is getting all the recognition he deserves. He won the UK’s ‘Most People-Focused CEO’ at the 2016 HR Excellence Awards and his Glassdoor ratings – which includes anonymous ratings from our own people – put him alongside some globally-recognised leaders, along with the CEOs of Google, McDonalds and American Express.

Our ongoing approach is our ‘Effortless 2020’ strategy which aims to always make life easier and ensure our customers have an effortless experience. That means our people are empowered and we’re all pulling in the same direction to make HomeServe a successful, customer-focused business. It’s a business now that is a reflection of its people, and that makes it authentic.

Everything we’re seeing – whether they are customer numbers; satisfaction and retention figures; new partnership signings; employee engagement levels; independent review scores or recognition and awards – are testament to the fact that our strategy is working and we’re getting a lot of the important things right.

My personal motivation is to deliver a product that really helps customers when they most need help. If we can get this right, then we can change their lives forever. We have a truly engaged workforce; they are a powerful positive force to have with you. I think one of the pillars of that has been absolutely trusting and empowering our people to get it right for customers. It’s a joy to walk into work each day and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before.

We’ve created ‘Customer First’, where any of our staff can take responsibility on what they feel to be the right thing for a customer. We meet at 8.30am every day to consider specific customer matters. Since launch, we have helped over two thousand customers who weren’t actually covered for the work we did but it was the right thing to do to help them.

Our focus on honest, open and two-way communication has also been intense and exciting. We’ve committed to everything from huge set-piece face-to-face events, to broad adoption of social conversations or personal one-to-ones with me. I try and make myself as available as possible for the one to ones as they’re incredibly valuable – but so fulfilling! If you encourage feedback from your customers and your people, they will trust you more. If you use it to evolve what you do, you will become a stronger business.

Our people know we want them to challenge us and make suggestions for improvement. They understand our strategy, the role they play and, most importantly, why it matters. They understand all this because we’ve shaped this strategy together.

I think everything I have done before I joined HomeServe has served as an apprenticeship for what I do now. In term of my own personal development, I think the biggest change is how I view the world from a position of leadership. In the past, I used to come at everything from a position of knowledge. However, as my experience has grown I have really understood what it means to be a leader. For me, that’s about empowering my people to become the best they can possibly be and setting them free.

I think one of my key leadership strengths is that I find the right ways to get a lot of people moving in the same direction. We’ve done that by focusing on our people and getting the customer experience right. It’s how you build a brand from the inside out. In the last three years, we have gone from being a business that wants to sell something to customers to being a business that genuinely wants to help them. We want to earn the right to retain their business, by doing the right things.

Focus on the end goal is crucial. For us, everything we have done and everything we continue to do must add to or improve the customer experience. In general, if it doesn’t add value for the customer, we don’t do it. An example is cancellation charges. I don’t like them because I believe that customers can leave when they want if we’re not doing our jobs right. It’s then up to us to get them back with us later down the line.

Everything you do should do exactly what it is supposed to for customers. If our customers have a good experience, they will tell other people about us. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are such incredibly powerful marketing tools for businesses like ours.

I think the key word for us should be authenticity. In today’s world of social media and real-time feedback, there is nowhere to hide so we have to make sure this business is completely customer-focused. Our TrustPilot and Reevoo scores are reaching some of the highest levels in the company’s history, our customer feedback and social media sentiment has been more positive than ever, customer numbers are on the up, retention is strong and the awards cabinet is starting to bulge a little bit more too!

Our brand marketing is all about our customers too – telling stories about the experiences they’ve had with us. If a company is going to have any credibility, sincerity and authenticity in its storytelling, it is better keeping its powder dry until it has a story worth telling. That’s what we did as we focused on getting our business right first. We got our people engaged in our strategy. We committed to Effortless 2020 and making life easier for our customers. As John Greaves, our Global Brand Director says: “It’s about getting organised so you’re not paying lip service but actually giving the best possible service for your customers and finding ways to make their lives easier. It’s not rocket science.”.

Only recently, I was asked about how some businesses can rebuild trust with customers, while others can’t. For us, if it’s not something that directly helps us give customers a better service, then we don’t do it. In my opinion, that’s what all truly customer-focused businesses should do. All too often, insurance businesses are intent on telling people why they can’t claim on their policies. We’re not like that which I think makes us unique. In that “moment of truth” when the customer needs us, I want us to be there for them. It’s not a difficult thing to do but I think it’s not something that every business in our sector does. We’re trying to make sure that we are doing exactly what the customer thinks we are going to do.

There’s also a seismic shift currently underway in the insurance sector, and it’s taking us from responding to problems to preventing them in the first place. Innovation and technology are creating so many opportunities in this space and we have ambitions to capitalise on that. It’s all about the opportunities we have as insurers to stop something from happening.

One of our “How to Wins” at HomeServe Membership is to nurture an innovation culture. This means we empower our people to be able to experiment with new ideas and inventions that will help us make life easier for our customers and grow the business at the same time.

Many of the ideas looked at digital technologies, and one of the most exciting innovations was created very recently, called LeakBot. Unidentified water leaks in homes are the single biggest cause of claims on home insurance policies – more is paid out on this issue than for anything else. So, we’ve created a smart gadget that identifies leaks anywhere on your home's fresh water plumbing system and alerts the homeowner to a potential problem which we can solve before the costs rack up. It’s just one example of the ongoing work we’re doing to make life as effortless and easy for our customers as we can.

Five years from now, we’ll be stronger because of the experiences and challenges we have faced. Since 2014, we’ve been working on ‘Effortless 2020’, our long term strategy. We hope we’ll be able to have more HomeServe customers because they will know more about us and they will want to take advantage of the range of products and services we provide. I want HomeServe to be a name that people associate with making their lives easier and recognised as the UK’s number one home assistance provider.

In terms of our people, we want them to continue to feel empowered and to know they’re making a difference when they come to work. We’ve got targets for where we want to be by 2020 and, alongside Martin, the Executive team, my marketing team and every one of the 2,900 people who represent our business, I’ll make sure we use every day until that point to get there.

Company: HomeServe UK

Name: Greg Reed


Web Address:

Address: HomeServe, Cable Drive, Walsall, WS2 7BN

Telephone: 0800 694 4167

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+44 (0) 203 725 6847