The extreme weather event of late February and early March 2018 will be remembered as the most severe that the UK had experienced since 1982.
Blizzards, strong winds, drifting snow and sub-zero temperatures caused unprecedented disruption. Referred to by the media as the Beast from the East, the event combined with storm Emma to bring heavy snow and gusts of more than 60mph.
The Met Office issued a red warning for snow – the first time ever in England – as temperatures throughout the UK plunged and up to 50cm (20in) of snow fell in some areas.
31 rail operators cancelled trains and hundreds of roads across the UK became impassable. The AA estimated over 8,000 collisions on Britain’s roads were caused by the snow in just 3 days.
The weather’s impact on residential homes was widespread. CET logged several thousand claims in just seven days as boiler pipes froze and water pipes burst up and down the country.
CET responds by giving its all
Despite the extreme conditions, 75 percent of the call centre staff made it in to the service centre during the surge’s peak.
Colleagues that were snowed-in were collected from their homes in 4×4 vehicles. These vehicles are usually reserved for CET’s construction materials testing division, but most of CET’s clients from this division had closed their sites during the storm.
CET’s documented surge plan was immediately put into effect:
- Enhanced availability: Virtually all staff in the service centre (including the CEO, Finance Director and IT Support personnel) were diverted to front-line operations. Additionally, 4×4 vehicles were used to collect staff from CET’s nearby Materials Testing operations in Wolvey. The result was a rapid, 200% increase in call handlers as CET reached record levels of claim volume, and human resources to match.
- Integrated teamwork: Operational performance meetings were held every two hours to ensure the maximum availability of CET staff and engineers, particularly for vulnerable customers.
- Surge performance management: Planned and event-specific surge KPIs were established to monitor the progress of claims, provide frequent performance reports and to minimise delays to claims.
- Delegated authority: Heating and plumbing contractors were permitted to complete works without individual part authorisation (additional costs were absorbed by CET).
Additionally, CET had already been working on a platform to enable policyholders to register and monitor claims from their mobile devices. The launch date was brought forward to provide another choice for policyholders to log claims. As a result, one-third of all claims were logged in this way.
Extra special support for vulnerable customers
CET offered tailored help to its vulnerable policyholders. For ongoing reassurance, this began with increasing the frequency of communication with this group.
The company keeps a large stock of fan heaters for just such as event, while additional heaters were purchased and hand-delivered to vulnerable customers’ homes by CET. Where needed, CET organised temporary accommodation and meals.
Rewarding those that made it happen
Customers and tradesmen responded with messages of thanks, showing their appreciation of CET’s support.
One policyholder who had a boiler breakdown wrote:
“Chris [the engineer] was a really nice gentleman, the service that has been provided was fantastic. The engineer was extremely helpful, and I couldn’t thank him enough. He was great [especially given that] the weather conditions weren’t brilliant”.
In turn, CET rewarded all who made this possible with pizzas and treats, and fun prizes.
Paul Wozencroft, Managing Director, CET Property Assurance Division, personally headed inbound call management. Paul said:
“CET’s strategy is based on availability, expertise and turnaround time. Early March 2018 was a period of unprecedented demand for CET’s home rescue services. At times, we were suitably challenged, but we quickly increased our capacity to meet demand. We are proud that our people and engineers gave their all, having rescued more customers than during both Storm Angus and Storm Doris put together. Every one of our colleagues went above and beyond to provide policyholders with the emergency help that they needed.”
24/7 Home Emergency Response from CET Property Assure
We understand that home emergency is very personal. That’s why our Home Emergency Response team is comprised of highly-trained staff with a wealth of experience in emergency situations. We aim to take away your stress and deliver a resolution as quickly as possible to ensure you avoid any delays.