Domestic & General (D&G) has been recognized as a WBA Winner for Service Excellence in the World Business Awards 2022. The World Business Award for Service Excellence [CSX] recognizes organizations that have successfully implemented initiatives that demonstrate leadership and commitment to customer service excellence. 

About Domestic & General

Domestic & General (D&G) is a leading warranty and insurance specialist for appliance care. Founded over 100 years ago, they provide peace of mind to 16 million customers and protect over 23 million appliances in 11 markets, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. For the past decade, the D&G team has been protecting over 1.5 million customers and their appliances against breakdowns. Home appliances are a huge part of everyday life, and when the unexpected happens, repairs and replacements can be expensive. D&G creates products that help customers get their appliances back up and running after accidental damage or break downs.

Operational & Service Excellence

Domestic & General provide repair and replacement protection for a range of domestic appliances and electronics, across brown goods, white goods and grey goods categories. Through their strong partnerships and expert service network, they repair and replace over 500,000 home appliances every year. Domestic & General have a set of values and behaviours that resonate with its people. These values guide their attitudes and behaviours when striving for service excellence. D&G’s global success is built on in-depth industry knowledge and underwriting expertise which allows it to tailor products and services to meet customer needs. Its long-standing and trusted partnerships with manufacturers, retailers and approved repairers allows D&G to deliver an exceptional overall experience to its customers. The “D&G difference” is not just about providing innovative and customer-centric solutions. Its most important commitment is to deliver on service excellence to ensure they retain their customers. To achieve service excellence, D&G must place the customer at the heart of every decision and interaction they make. During the year, D&G implemented several revisions to programs that underpin the customer journey and improve customer experience; employee engagement; and operational efficiencies. These included redesigning the mystery shopping program to assess customer experiences, upgrades to training programs, revamping the Quality Assurance program and digitising post-repair surveys and customer satisfaction measures.

D&G is committed to building a business that places the customer at the centre of every decision and process in the customer journey, to ensure the company evolves in line with customer behaviours and needs. D&G’s approach to building a customer-centric business is based on its continuous monitoring and evaluation of its core operational processes; competencies; and internal research so it can service its customers more effectively. During the year, D&G redesigned its mystery shopping program to focus on embedding service excellence at every stage of the in-store sales process. The new mystery shopping program aimed to identify training needs and improve the selling practises of retail agents. To support the mystery shopping program, D&G Account Managers then shared the results with its retail partners to drive continuous improvement in selling practises. D&G reinvigorated its mystery shopping program to focus on improving the way retail agents deliver an exceptional sales experience to customers in-store. Through evaluation of in-store activity, D&G was able to get direct feedback from customers and retail agents.

Another focus for D&G during 2019 was the enhancement of the company’s induction program for new employees/agents to increase employee engagement. D&G made a decision to invest more in their people upfront, so agents would feel empowered and better equipped with the right tools to deliver exceptional customer service. D&G place a great deal of importance on benchmarking programs in order to monitor service levels and exceed their own QA performance against industry standards. D&G’s QA program is just one of many methods used to evaluate call quality of agents with customers, based on a set of success criteria.

D&G understands its people play a critical role in delivering customer outcomes and service excellence. In June 2019, the collaboration between cross-functional teams in Operations, Compliance and Product led to the transformation of D&G’s people management and training programs. Optimising D&G’s induction program means agents were equipped with the right levels of technical skills and behaviours to support D&G’s vision of being a world-class service provider. D&G believe that listening to its customers is one of the critical drivers to achieving service excellence. D&G transitioned away from paper-based surveys to online surveys to create a more convenient and rapid feedback channel that would lead to increased response rates. Additionally, it enabled D&G to investigate customer experiences closer to the event, which helped uncover the root cause of any issues. It is also a more cost-effective way of retrieving the data from in-field.

D&G focused its effort on tailoring its training and induction programs to drive better performance outcomes from its contact centre agents through its in-store retail partners. By measuring the effectiveness of the training programs using key performance metrics, they could better gauge if agents understood their purpose and role in delivering exceptional customer service. The two ways used to measure how successful newly implemented training programs were post-training surveys, facilitator feedback. D&G’s new induction program delivered more add-value to agents by providing better clarity about day-to-day responsibilities and expectations, clearly communicating and demonstrating the right behaviours required from agents to support the delivery of service excellence and standardising best practice to remove the guess work and improve quality services.

Based on the research, D&G established some simple updates to their customer communications strategy and repair processes by requesting repairers provide updates via email or mobile to customers to keep them informed of their repair status where possible. The results of this small change in procedure and process created increased visibility of information to customers which helped them understand repair or replacement issues in a more timely manner, peace of mind to customers that repairs were progressing and fewer inbound follow-up calls as customers were actively informed of any delays or issues with their repair. There is also a reduction in the level of complaints to agents and agents also encountered less disgruntled customers overall. Overall, D&G’s use of insights from both the online post-repair surveys and CSAT allowed greater accessibility to real-time customer feedback and in-depth analysis of feedback to address issues quickly.

For D&G, 2019 proved to be another significant year of process improvement which support the delivery to service excellence. It refined many of its core operational programs including mystery shopping; account manager administered in-store training; agent induction; quality assurance program; digitising post-repair customer surveys and customer satisfaction measure (CSAT). All programs focused on driving service excellence at different stages of the customer journey from in-store policy take up, claims and repair servicing to post-repair customer evaluation and satisfaction. D&G’s business goal is clear and remains focused on its brand promise. This is to keep their customer’s world’s running by delivering an essential service that never lets them down. D&G strives to surpass customer expectations through its ongoing commitment to service excellence.

Maintaining Service Excellence during a Pandemic

In 2020, customers used and relied more heavily on their devices and home appliances due to the global pandemic forcing them to stay at home. This meant D&G played a critical role in giving customers peace of mind in helping them get their appliances repaired or replaced should they break down or get accidentally damaged.

As for most businesses, 2020 was a challenging year to navigate amidst a pandemic. Yet in the face of adversity, D&G not only retained its entire workforce but mobilised its resources and operations into a remote-working model. Its number one priority was to ensure the health and well-being of its people and customers, in line with its strategic and business growth agenda.

D&G had to find ways to continue to deliver service excellence to its customers by working closely with their partners to ensure their repair network continued to operate safely, and efficiently. The significant steps taken by D&G to enhance and refine its operational models to improve its services include:

• The implementation of an API with its retail partner. This integration project allowed customers to raise a claim in real-time meaning an approved repairer could assess repairs needed on appliances more efficiently.

• The introduction of its first-ever Service watch team, responsible for the proactive monitoring of claims to ensure customers were kept informed at every step of the repair journey achieving increasing transparency, and responsiveness.

• The launch of a new Customer Online Sales Portal, allowing customers to buy policies conveniently and safely for their new appliances online.

• Maintaining employee engagement initiatives driving a “customer first”, high-performance culture, and service excellence, plus helped staff stay connected when working from home.

• Enhancements to its Quality Assurance program, i.e. agent coaching, call etiquette, and communication skills training to improve customer experiences.

• Digitisation of the post-repair customer surveys and customer satisfaction measures for delivering quicker and more meaningful insights with online surveys issued fortnightly.

The business overcame the challenges and uncertainty created by the pandemic through its highly effective resource and operations management. D&G’s decisive action to transition all business operations to remote and online servicing was attributed to the hard work of its HR, IT and Leadership team in cooperation with its dedicated staff. This level of change is an extraordinary achievement to turn around in such a short amount of time. Overall D&G has proven to be a stable and resilient business shown by its strong employee retention rate and business performance.

Looking ahead, D&G’s business goal remains focused on its brand promise “Keeping your world running by delivering an essential service that never lets you down” and strives to surpass customer expectations through its unwavering commitment to service excellence despite local or global adversity that may threaten to undermine its business along the way.