All roads lead to value for Osborne Property Services

Membership has been an amazing benefit for us as a business. It is the added value that we get from it, along with our vibrant community investment activity, which makes us a bit special.

A Limited Company, independent of the widerGroup’s construction and infrastructure arms, Osborne Property Services hasaround 500 employees – half of the group’s entire workforce – and contributed £52.5m in 2013/14.

With clients nowplacing emphasis on customer satisfaction and community investment, these arebecoming important differentiators when bidding for contracts.

“Historically, in the market, there have been examples of people bidding foreverything on price and not being able to deliver,” says Callam. “Before wetender for a contract we do lots of research. We look for a shared ethosbetween clients and ourselves. We want to work in partnership.

This culture extends to its membership of the Institute of Customer Service,with everyone in the company required to undertake the Institute’sFirstImpressions customer-service training. The next step, says Callam, istraining for service managers, as well as working towards the Institute’sServiceMark accreditation.

“We get measured on customer satisfaction by all of our clients,” says Callam.“But because data is collected in different ways by different clients, there’sno consistent method of measurement.” 

Achieving ServiceMark could provide clients with greater clarity in this area,as Will Hughes, Osborne Property Services’ Business Excellence Director,explains: “The ServiceMark accreditation will make a clear and unambiguousstatement about our commitment to service excellence to customers, clients andstaff, both current and potential. Accordingly, we believe it will help us winnew business and help retain our existing business.”

Using membership to unlocklearning

More generally, Hughes says: “Membership has directly unlockedlearning and experiences, which, in turn, led us to consider how we interactwith our customers and what we know about them. Further research and planninghas culminated in plans to completely re-engineer our contact centres into a‘Customer Experience Hub’.”

The company’s investment extends to its IT infrastructure, which wasinstrumental in them winning an award in 2013 for ‘Best Use Of Technology’ atthe Institute’s National Customer Satisfaction Awards. 

According to Hughes, the award has “directly helped to improve our scores incompetitive tenders and has given potential clients greater confidence in ourcapabilities and commitment to service excellence”.

Says Callam: “Our award winning IT has given our clients visibility. They canlook into our systems and see how many appointments are booked and all ourbackground reporting. It also enables tenants to ring up and book anappointment at first point of contact at a time that suits them.”

The system also links into the operatives PDAs, giving them information abouttheir jobs in real time. The PDAs take operatives through the risk-assessmentprocedure, allow them to take photos, enable them to allocate cost andmaterials used offer capabilities to feedback customer-satisfactionscores. 

Measuring impact 

Hughes acknowledges “it is difficult to precisely quantify thecustomer service benefits of the new IT platform” but points to a 9% increasein customer satisfaction in the first year of implementation.

Added Callam: “Employee engagement is another area to which we’ve been payingclose attention, and the two issues (this and customer service) are quiteclosely linked. During FirstImpressions training, our staff have to complete aproject, which is basically an improvement opportunity. All ideas get looked atand those we think would be good to implement are taken forward.”

From the top down, senior managers have been required to keep in touch withcustomers by spending time on the front line – an initiative close to the heartof Nick Sterling, the company’s Managing Director. According to Hughes, the‘back to the floor’ scheme has “directly highlighted, for resolution, problemsthat the frontline teams face”.

Membership networking

The company is also taking advantage of its membership byattending events such as the Institute’s Annual General Meeting, which has ledto the building of key relationships – including David MacLeod, co-chair of theEmployee Engagement Government Task Force Engage for Success, who spoke to thewider Osborne business’ senior leaders group.

Whether directly through ICS training, or indirectly through networking,membership is helping Osborne deliver the added value its clients are seeking.“The training has really helped get the message across at all levels of thebusiness,” concludes Callam. “Membership has been an amazing benefit for us asa business. It is the added value that we get from it, along with our vibrantcommunity investment activity, which makes us a bit special.”