Eneco Installatiebedrijven made the transformation into a directing organisation.
In 2017, Eneco Installatiebedrijven made the transformation into a directing organisation. This organisation, which is part of the Eneco Group, manages around 200 of its own service engineers and various partners. Each year, Eneco visits more than 250,000 customers for service and installation of central heating systems, boilers, district heating, TOON and nowadays also increasingly for sustainable solutions, such as heat pumps, solar panels and home batteries. In order to make it easier for customers to plan these appointments while simultaneously increasing efficiency, Eneco started working with FlowFabric and Ortec.
Peter van Rheenen, Product Owner at Eneco, and Thomas Keuter, Mendix Business Consultant at FlowFabric, discuss Eneco's field services process and how FlowFabric supports it.
What was the reason for developing the application?
Peter van Rheenen: "The application has existed since 2017, and is focused on the fact that we wanted to serve the customer better by influencing the time and date at which we visit for an appointment. We also didn't want Eneco to have to make any more journeys only to find the customer isn't home.
Before we started with Splash, we had one-sided customer appointments in which context we suggested a time and date, and the customer had to call us if this wasn't convenient. As a result, in some cases up to 40% of the time the person we were visiting was not at home. By digitising this process and making the appointments two-way, we have been able to reduce this 'not at home' percentage to 2%-5%; a huge improvement".
That's a great improvement, tell me more
Peter van Rheenen: "It's actually very simple, there is less hassle for the customer and for us, because the customer is in control when choosing the time and date, and can also do this online. As the service engineer no longer has to leave his car to ring the doorbell, only to discover that the customer is out, we save a lot of time. The integration with Ortec has also greatly improved automatic route planning. Before we had this application, Splash, the routes were planned manually. Now, together with Splash, Ortec's planning algorithm delivers these routes automatically to our implementation department, and these are then optimised on the day itself. So this has provided huge benefits. Both in route creation and in route quality. Our planners only need to focus on resolving incidents and near incidents".
Thomas Keuter: "This enables us to serve Eneco's customers better - and ultimately this saves costs, of course. We have now also brought Eneco's customer experience wholly into line. So whether the customer lives in Groningen and is served by an Eneco partner, or the customer lives in Rotterdam and is served by a service engineer who drives an Eneco van himself, every customer has the same experience. And gets the same communication with the same possible time slots. So the customer experience is the same for every customer".
Did Eneco need more time savings, or rather process optimisation?
Peter van Rheenen: "Both, but the customer is the primary focus in this process. So, as Thomas rightly says, aligning the customer journey across Eneco's entire operating territory is very important. Being able to plan on both sides, with the customer, ensuring the customer feels heard, that is what comes first. Of course, there are financial and optimisation components to this. But the project is primarily customer-focused."
Thomas Keuter: "There were several aspects at play, all of which we tried to tackle with a single all-encompassing solution. The customer was given the most attention in this."
Are the routes more optimised now?
Peter van Rheenen: "The routes are optimised as much as possible on the basis of the customer's wishes."
Thomas Keuter: "The more freedom you give the customer, the broader the customer can choose, the more difficult it becomes to optimise those routes in terms of kilometres. With this knowledge in mind, it is nevertheless possible to plan routes for service engineers that are much shorter and faster than if the planners had to do it themselves".
Peter van Rheenen: "We've been working on this for the last 2 years. We try to nudge the customers in a certain direction as much as possible, to persuade them to choose the same time period as someone living nearby has also chosen, for example. That way we don't have to go to the same street at 2 different times."
Thomas Keuter: "This gives us greater influence on the appointment flow that we initiate. We can offer many options here to optimise a sustainable route. When appointments are initiated from the customer, such as malfunctions, we try to fit this into the routes that are already planned as best as possible. The preferred scenario, of course, is for a service engineer to spend all day working in the same neighbourhood."
How do you ensure an optimum route when the customer requests the appointment?
Peter van Rheenen: "Splash, together with Ortec, ensures that we display to the agent the 9 most appropriate time slots at that moment. It is then up to the agent to see if he can persuade the customer to choose 1 of those 9 options, even if that means that we visit the customer later than he actually had in mind".
Thomas Keuter: "The agent first of all offers the options that are the optimum for the local residents. The first options are sorted according to travel time, how much extra time do we have to drive to schedule that appointment in a certain route". If the customer can't be at home for any of these nine preferred time slots, there is the option to go to a calendar with time slots. This includes all possible options within the period in which we want to help the customer, including the less optimal moments. That is why it is essential that the agents direct customers towards one of the preferred time slots as best they can.
What if Eneco had not purchased this application, what impact would that have had on the organisation?
Peter van Rheenen: "Actually it is impossible to imagine the Eneco installation businesses without this application, without Splash. This is also a big compliment for FlowFabric, Ortec and the team. We have truly become an integral part of Eneco's process and IT landscape. If we hadn't done this, we would already have lost the battle for the customer. Eneco is a big name, but it's not the biggest installation company in the Netherlands. We were one of the first with an online appointments portal, but now all of our competitors have one as well. We would also still have needed a very large number of people to serve the customers. You're talking about a lot of euros a year being flushed away. In turnover, but also in staffing costs."
Was there a certain business objective to which this application should contribute?
Peter van Rheenen: "Yes, service for the customer. Of course, once we had started we had to meet our business case, which also took the number of kilometres, 'customer not at home' percentages, customer satisfaction and the number of FTEs into account in the planning. We've been able to meet all these.
With Mendix and FlowFabric, we have a low-code solution in which we work with a permanent team. We stand out because of the quality we deliver, but also for the speed with which we can deliver it".
Thomas Keuter: "We have a permanent team here with which we are continuing to develop. Whereas in the early years we were busy digitising and mapping out the entire process, we are now much more involved in optimising and supporting Eneco's continuous change. There are still various areas in which we can improve things even further. Also, the fact that we work with an constant team and that we are present in the landscape is not something we do for every client".
What does the future look like?
Peter van Rheenen: "A second application is currently being prepared, that FlowFabric will also build. This will be an application for our service engineers to support them in making the customer connection to our district heating smarter. Also when a customer has a problem with his or her connection or heat meter, this application will support the service engineer in problem analysis and troubleshooting. What's really nice is that this is an app that communicates with our Internet of Things platform, and that it's the first native mobile app on the new Mendix platform".
Thomas Keuter: "This is really going to be a technical aid. It is an application for installing a smart meter for the heat network. Hundreds of thousands of smart boxes will have to be installed as part of that project. We call this the Eneco Connect Module. This app supports the service engineer by enabling him to communicate with the box. That means if there is a malfunction in the box, the service engineer can fix it via the app. He can see what the malfunction is, what's causing the problem and possible solutions. This then enables him to get the module working again, so that we at Eneco can read the meters remotely".
Peter van Rheenen: "The first part of this process, scheduling the service engineer visit, is handled by the current application, Splash. With the new app, we will be able to help with the second part, once the service engineer is physically on site".
What is the interaction like between Eneco and FlowFabric?
Peter van Rheenen: "Very positive. We are able to change gears easily and quickly with everyone at FlowFabric. And not just quickly, but also at a good level in terms of quality, so I quickly get the responses I am looking for. This is important in an environment like ours in which there are many changes. I'm rarely, if ever, disappointed with what I get. In fact, we're usually surprised by what we get and when."
Thomas Keuter: "I think from our point of view that things are well-organised here. We feel at home at Eneco, we can work here as if we were part of the team. We are always out in the field, the lines of communication are short and we can always app each other or call each other when something is going on".