Doing it for themselves

AdminBase discusses how West Yorkshire Windows’ customers enjoy ‘Amazon’-quality service courtesy of its Customer Portal.

One of the many side-effects of the battle against Covid has been the surge in online shopping, led by Amazon, whose fortunes have been driven by its ability to quickly supply anything to anyone, and by the level of customer service it offers.

At the core of the company’s customer service offer is not legions of front-line, human sales assistants, but the ability for Amazon’s shoppers to find out for themselves what is happening to their goods; any time of the day or night, with precise and dependable updates, and the ability to make changes instantly.

No telephone queues, no muzak or sales messages, no delays. All of which has set new challenges for customer service in every other walk of life.

West Yorkshire Windows’ managing director Matt Grafton said: “Customer expectations have been changed by Amazon. While our sales have surged during the various phases of lockdown, which we all experienced, the pressure on our customer support team has been immense, sometimes stretching us to the limit.

“We had to find a way to ease this pressure and find a way of allowing homeowners to help themselves.”

Relief came in the form of a feature introduced within the AdminBase installer management system that the firm had been using for some time, but which Matt freely admits his company had underused.

“I started on March 17, 2020, so a week before the initial lockdown,” Matt said. “I therefore had to assimilate everything at West Yorkshire Windows while dealing with the unknowns of the pandemic. It was, to say the least, an interesting time.

“In addition what was a very sharp learning curve, by June we began to see a surge in leads from homeowners who wanted to improve the homes that many had spent a great deal of time in due to the pandemic. And while it was great for our business, together with every other retail installer, it brought its own pressures.”

Matt inherited Ab Initio’s AdminBase installer management system, which West Yorkshire Windows had been using for some time. He recognised that AdminBase was underused by the firm and quickly began to implement the features of the system, a process that is still underway.

“AdminBase can and will control every part of our business,” he said. “But the element that has made a significant, immediate difference to us is one that was introduced relatively recently: the Customer Portal.

“This allows our customers to simply log in to their account through our website and find an enormous amount of information regarding their order, to fix appointments for survey, installation or remedials, and for us to take payments. This has been an immediate success, boosting cash flow and reducing admin, as we have significantly reduced our calls to take payment.

“By allowing our customers to log in and track their order and carry out other key tasks for themselves, our staff can focus on other duties. The Customer Portal cannot be overwhelmed, so not matter how many people want to check on their installation, they can log on and look for themselves.

“When they buy windows and doors from West Yorkshire Windows, our customers can keep a constant check on their order, arrange appointments and make payments, offering that level of control they have become familiar with online retailers such as Amazon. I am very pleased with that.”

The AdminBase Customer Portal is available to every web-based AdminBase user and is included in the cost. It complements the AdminBase automated SMS/email comms system, which alerts customers to every transaction and progress with their order. In turn, this allows retailers to significantly reduce the number of administrators they employ.

“This element of AdminBase allows us to provide a very effective balance of the personal service that homeowners are intitled to expect for a significant purchase for their homes, in addition to be able to keep track when it suits them,” Matt said. “It’s a very good combination of the personal service for which West Yorkshire Windows has an excellent reputation locally, and technology, resulting in tangible benefits to our customers.”