The National League of Cities (NLC) Service Line Warranty Program (SLWP), administered by USP, a HomeServe company, was conceived in partnership with the National League of Cities to educate property owners about their service line responsibilities and to help residents avoid the out-of-pocket expense for unanticipated and potentially costly service line repairs and replacements.
One of the most important benefits of the NLC SLWP is access to our exceptional local contractor network whenever an emergency arises. While it can take days for a contractor from the phone book to arrive, a Program customer receives a call back from a qualified, fully-vetted, licensed and insured contractor within one hour to agree upon a convenient time for the contractor to arrive at their home to execute the repair. The customer also receives an email/text verification of who is coming (including a picture of the technician).
HomeServe assists homeowners with over 450,000 emergency repair jobs each year, covering plumbing, HVAC, electrical and gas. To accomplish this, we have a mix of both directly employed service technicians and a network of over 1,000 contractors across the country to meet the demands of our 3 million customers. It is therefore our job to take the customer’s call, identify the nature of their problem, confirm coverage and deploy the job to a HomeServe technician or network contractor as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Hear from our Director, Repair Management about our philosophy for servicing customers with repair emergencies.
Rigorous vetting process ensures quality and protects consumers
The NLC SLWP is very selective when recruiting contractors to be part of its network. In fact, less than 10% of all contractors researched and interviewed are actually selected to become network contractors. The first step in the process involves researching contractors that meet specific criteria, including: A BBB rating of A or higher; positive feedback of 90% or better by previous customers; and the ability to provide 24/7 emergency service.
Once a contractor meets our strict research criteria, a formal interview is conducted to determine if they have the expertise and equipment to perform the type of work that is required and to ensure they meet our contractor compliance requirements, including:
- Valid and active licensing, bonding and liability, workers compensation and motor vehicle insurance
- Certification by the contractor that their employees are legally able to work in the U.S.
- Drug screening and state background checks
- References from previous jobs they have completed for residential customers
- Willingness to sign an agreement with HomeServe that stipulates performance standards, code of conduct and more
Having access to a network of fully-vetted, licensed contractors can protect consumers from potentially expensive problems. According to the Better Business Bureau there are many financial risks of using unlicensed contractors including:
- Quality – Acquiring a license ensures at least a minimal level of competence in that field.
- Property values – Unlicensed contractors may fail to obtain permits which can impact the value of the property and failing to disclose information could lead to liability of the seller. In addition, since an unlicensed contractor rarely has liability insurance or a bond, if any work needs to be re-done, the burden falls on the homeowner.
- Injury – If the contractor does not carry workers compensation insurance, the homeowner who hires that contractor becomes the “employer”, and then is responsible for injuries occurring on the property.
- Damage to third parties – If a contractor is unlicensed and causes damage to a neighboring property or person, the homeowner may be held responsible for the contractor’s actions.
Technology increases efficiency and enhances the experience
The NLC SLWP utilizes a mobile field service management platform which enables contractors and their technicians easily accept jobs, schedule them with the customer and provide real-time status updates so that our Operations team can monitor progress from our Command Center. The application also alerts the customer each step of the way through SMS text messaging.
For example, when the job is scheduled, the customer receives a text message with the appointment date and time which can be saved to the calendar on their smart phone. When the technician is on their way to the customer’s home, they can simply press the “On My Way” button which sends a text to the customer with a link to a web site where the location of the technician and their estimated time of arrival can be tracked. The customer can also call the technician or text them if there is something they may need to know before getting on site.
After completing the job, the technician can simply click “Appointment Complete” which sends another text message to the customer to complete a one question survey on the technician’s performance. The results of implementing this mobile solution have been significant. Almost 80% of all jobs are now routing through the platform which has reduced the time to deploy a job by almost 20 seconds, both improving the customer experience and saving over $300k annually in agent handle time
Customers are also much happier which has been clearly seen in their survey scores and written feedback. We are pleased that this industry leading solution has revolutionized the home emergency repair experience in a way that matches the ever-increasing expectations of our customers.
The NLC SLWP can bring home repair programs backed by world-class service to your residents. Learn more about how a partnership can benefit your municipality at www.utilitysp.net.