CATALYST Issue 1 - Page 22

Talent Centric Rebuilding after turmoil After a period of turbulence, home assistance company HomeServe has returned to growth under the leadership of CEO Martin Bennett.  I n 2014, repairs group HomeServe was fined £30.6m – the largest retail fine to date by City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority – for mis- selling insurance and mishandling customer complaints. “We weren’t doing a great job for customers,” admits Martin Bennett, who became CEO of the UK business in January 2014, following a year as group chief operating officer and three years as group chief financial officer. Since Bennett’s appointment, the company has been rebuilding the brand from the inside out – by concentrating on the needs of employees. “The fall- out with the regulator gave us a chance to reassess how we were doing for customers,” Bennett says. “At the heart of achieving our ambition is making a strong link between customer and employee expectation.” Founded in 1993 by Richard Harpin (who is still group CEO) as a joint venture with South Staffordshire Water, HomeServe grew rapidly before demerging from the water company in 2004 and becoming a plc. 22 Today, HomeServe operates in five countries, working alongside major utility and energy companies. It has some 2.2 million customers in the UK and 7.5 million worldwide, providing home assistance across water, electrics and gas. In 2017, it was recognised as most improved company in the UK for customer satisfaction in the services sector, attributed by Bennett to the new emphasis on customer promise. “We started out on a journey to produce a customer charter and focused all our energies on ensuring customers would get a great service,” he explains. But while he is pleased with progress around the customer charter, Bennett is clear that ensuring the firm’s 3,000 UK employees are engaged, developed and talented will decide the business’ success. “Our people come first, customers second and shareholders third. If our people are happy, they will take care of our customers and that will give us a successful business. If I had my chance again, I would create people values before customer values,” he admits. Communication Martin Bennett CEO, HomeServe Martin has 25 years of international business experience working for multi-nationals, family-owned businesses and professional service firms. When Bennett became CEO in January 2014, employee engagement stood at around 56%. “We weren’t clear what we wanted from our people. We had negative publicity and this reflected in our engagement score. Since then, we’ve tried to get clear about what we expect from people and their role in delivering strategy,” he says. Twice a year, the company holds ‘cascade’ sessions – where staff are brought together to hear where the PEOPLE PROMISES AT HOMESERVE: • Dare to care • Do the right thing • Own it • Always improve • Win together: trust each other