National Mobile Windscreens is managing to maintain a culture of customer service first realised when George Douglas started the company in 1971.
Back then it was one man and his van, but 30 years later and Douglas is chairman of a business that operates a fleet of 300-plus vehicles and employs more than 350 people across 35 branches in the south west, the midlands and the south of England.
However, that personal touch which was important to Douglas at the very beginning of the business remains central to its offering today.
“If you look back to the early days of the company it was very much the personal touch that counted,” says Martyn Bennett, sales and marketing director at National Mobile Windscreens (NMW).
He adds: “That was part of George Douglas’s ethos and that remains our ethos today.”
Its call centre serves 50 dedicated helpline numbers from the fleet and insurance market, generating 15,000 calls per month all answered within 20 seconds by its 15-strong team.
However, it isn’t all about the numbers for Michelle Green, the company’s customer service manager. “We value a qualitative service rather that one that focuses on quantity,” she says.
“Too much of a focus can be put on the number of calls handled and call duration, but what’s important to us is resolving people’s problems.”
This approach must also be knitted to each of the individual companies NMW provides a glass fitting service for.
“The vast majority of people in fleet are looking for the same thing, out-and-out service delivery.
"Price is important, but I don’t feel that’s the number one driving force,” says Bennett. “Our customers want to talk to somebody who knows what they’re talking about.
“They want confidence, they want professionalism and they want that personal touch.
“We’ve a number of long-serving members of staff and that’s one of our big qualities – longevity.”
Creating that loyalty from having knowledgeable and experienced staff requires investment.
Almost four years ago NMW embarked on a £250,000 project to help it further enhance its service.
The company worked with the Training and Skills Council, securing £100,000 of funding through the Government’s Train to Gain initiative, which allowed it to build a training centre at its headquarters in Bristol.
Employees have been equipped with a host of skills, from glass fitting and distribution to management development programmes and skills for life.
“We benefit from not only a well trained workforce, but also from a motivated group of people who will build on their skills base, because they will be more likely to stay with you and develop further within the organisation,” explains Bennett.
It has resulted in a vast improvement in staff retention levels, enabled the company to promote from within and seen it recognised with a National Training Award in 2009.
It also played a part in the company winning the Customer Service Award at the Fleet News Awards in 2010.
National Mobile Windscreens is benefiting from its membership of National Windscreens, a nationwide organisation consisting of 15 companies, where it is the largest player.
Fleet customers can now enjoy access to 110 branches and 650 engineers across the UK.
Not bad for a business that started with one man and his van.
Investment in IT reaps rewards
National Mobile Windscreens has invested £1 million in IT over the past four years and continues to look at ways of improving the software its business relies on.
“One of the first areas we invested in IT was in the call centre,” says Martyn Bennett.
“We wanted to make the process of booking a job as seamless as possible.”
It developed a bespoke customer service package which it has continued to build on, while also adopting the Epyx 1link Platform, allowing paperless transactions with its customers.
“All we need from a caller is their vehicle registration number, all other details will then appear on the screen, so the number of questions we have to ask them is shorter,” says Bennett.
“The point is people don’t like calling customer contact centres and answering too many questions, they just want you to resolve their problem.”
With no prescribed scripts to follow, the customer service team can instead focus on listening to customer needs and responding accordingly.