Category Archives: Company News

Coronavirus Contingency Plan

We are sending special thoughts to all our installers and consumers out there that may be experiencing a negative impact due to the coronavirus. This is a difficult time and we’re here to support you where we can.

We are currently operating as normal, but we do have extensive contingency plans in place so that we can all stay safe AND it will be business as usual to continue to support you and your customers.

General Operations

Should the worst happen, our contingency plan means that all our people can work remotely from home, including remote access for all emails and website contact emails.

Our people are our most important asset and will continue to be remunerated in the normal way whilst working from home.

Telephone Lines

As part of our contingency plan, our telephone lines will be diverted so that all calls and enquires whether for our service delivery team, customer service or our ADR and complaints team, can be covered by our people remotely.

Non-Urgent Business

To ensure we continue to deliver our services to installers and customers, non-urgent business will continue to be reviewed, including the suspension of group meetings, business travel and attendance of exhibitions and events.

Inspections and Remedial Works

We have spoken with our inspection providers about their contingency plans and how their inspection and remedial services may be affected. All our suppliers have their own processes in place should the worst happen. All are currently operating as normal until advised otherwise. Should the situation worsen, our suppliers will be providing guidelines and information on their contingency plans which we will then share more widely.

Consumers

Consumers that use our installer network can rest assured our contingency plans mean that it will be business as usual. Our team can fully work remotely from home, meaning that they will have access to all emails and can take all phone calls as usual to deal with any complaints, disputes and/or support as usual.

For now, please keep safe and stay up to date with the advice from the NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Double Winners at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020

QA Scheme Support Services (QASSS) took home two awards at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020, including a silver award for Best Complaint Handling and a bronze award for Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year – Initiative.

QASSS operates three consumer protection schemes across home improvement, including HIES, HICS, and DGCOS*. The company entered their Resolution Revolution project into the complaint handling awards, a project led by their dispute resolution team the ‘ADR superheroes’. As finalists for the two awards, QASSS presented their initiatives to an expert panel of independent judges followed by the awards ceremony in London.

The QASSS Resolution Revolution project saw QASSS reach an average dispute resolution time of just 2 days whilst still delivering high satisfaction rates to their customers. All the while the industry average sits at 80 days (CTSI Report, 2018).

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director of QASSS, commented, “It’s great to be recognised by these prestigious awards in both categories. Our dispute resolution team work extremely hard to resolve customer complaints quickly and fairly. We have had some record-breaking statistics recently, reaching an average resolution time of just 2 days, which is amazing. We’re looking forward to implementing further initiatives as we continually look at ways of improving our services.”

*DGCOS is the Double Glazing & Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme, HIES is the Home Insulation and Energy Systems Scheme and HICS is the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme.

Photo from left to right: Adrian Simpson (QASSS) and Ciarán Harkin (QASSS).

HICS Leyland Bake Off Raises £123.20 for St Catherine’s Hospice

HICS held a charity ‘Great Leyland Bake Off’ on 10th February to raise money for St Catherine’s Hospice. The Leyland-based business not only had some quality baking but also raised £123.20 for St Catherine’s Hospice.

St Catherine’s Hospice is an independent, local charity based in Preston that provides care to those who are affected by life-shortening conditions. Find out more about St Catherine’s by visiting their website here.

HICS bakers had their cake fate chosen from the pick of a hat where each colleague wrote down their favourite dessert. They had the likes of sticky toffee pudding, Victoria sponge cake, millionaire shortbread, banoffee pie, flapjack and more.

The contestants had 3 chances for victory with awards for ‘best taste’, ‘best presentation’ and ‘overall winner’. With 3 on the judging panel, the bakers were really put to the test! After much deliberation (and a lot of cake tasting), the winning cakes and bakers were:

  • Best taste – sticky toffee pudding, Tracy Dilworth, Dispute Resolution Officer
  • Best presentation – chocolate and butterscotch ‘Valentine’s cake’, Michael McGougan, Schemes Manager
  • Overall winner – chocolate cake, Tabatha Strain, Operations Officer

Jonathon Moorhouse bake off organiser and Service Delivery Executive at HICS, commented:

“St. Catherine’s Hospice is a charity very close to our hearts, so it felt like a natural choice for us to choose them to raise funds for. At HICS we’re always finding ways to boost office morale and we felt an office bake-off was the perfect activity to do it.”

Photo from left to right: Cathy O’Hara, Cathryn Wolfenden, Jonathon Moorhouse, Tabatha Strain, Charlotte Pilkington, Tracy Dilworth, Melody Ikin and Naomi Cunningham.

Winners At The Top 50 Companies For Customer Service Awards!

Winner Top Companies for Customer Service

We’re excited to announce that QASSS (QA Scheme Support Services) that operate DGCOS, HIES and HICS has been announced as 2020 winners of the ‘Contact Centre Special Moment’ award at The Top Companies for Customer Service Awards. This is a fantastic result highlighting our industry-leading complaint handling and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services.

Our ‘Resolution Revolution’ entry outlined a key project undertaken in 2019 by our ADR team to reduce our average dispute resolution time. We felt that an industry average of over 2.5 months was far too long to resolve a dispute (CTSI reported average resolution time is 80 days(1)). We knew that we could drastically improve both member and consumer experiences by making the journey for consumer complaints hassle-free and super quick.

We set a target to achieve an average of 5 days to resolve disputes before December 2019. Our ‘Resolution Revolution’ project was really successful, reducing our average dispute resolution time to 4.2 days in May and reducing further down to 3.59 days last summer.

What does this mean for members and installers?
Where there has been a dispute between a member and a consumer, they can both expect their complaint to be dealt with 40x quicker than the UK average of 80 days (CTSI Report, 2018). This represents the focus of the ‘resolution revolution’ project which was to radically speed up the dispute process.

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director at QASSS, commented, “I am over the moon to win this award from the Top 50 Companies for Customer Service. I’m also pleased with the fact consumers and members across our home improvement, renewables and glazing schemes can benefit from super quick dispute resolution times. Well done to Charlotte Pilkington (Dispute Resolution Manager) and her team. They have all worked so incredibly hard.”

We’d also like to say well done to other winners on the night including ITV, Compare the Market, Hitachi and the World Wildlife Fund.

(1) CTSI report, 2018

What Changed in 2019?

As one year ends and another begins we look at the home improvement marketplace in 2019 and reflect on a tremendously exciting and busy year for QASSS and its schemes HICS, HIES and DGCOS.

Our Achievements

  • We have transformed our complaint handling and ADR service offering industry-leading speed of resolution, reducing the average time to 3.59 days as compared to the industry average of 80 days.
  • Our alternative dispute resolution service (ADR) has been recognised by the 2020 Complaint Handling Awards and we have been shortlisted as finalists in 2 categories – ‘Best Complaint Handling’ and ‘Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year – Initiative’. Plus, we’ve also been nominated for another award with the Top Companies for Customer Service.
  • We continued the process in 2019 of really getting to know our customers much better, either being on the road and meeting them face-to-face chatting to them over the phone.
  • We rebranded and relaunched our HICS, DGCOS and HIES consumer protection websites and marketing material, including the introduction of a new brand ambassador, George Clarke, a passionate advocate for high standards in the home improvement industry.
  • Towards the end of 2019, we also launched our new e-commerce shop to make it easier to order marketing material and register your jobs all in one place.
  • In 2019, we refreshed the QASSS site to showcase our remedial management, alternative dispute resolution and complaints handling services for the home improvement sector.
  • In 2019 we invested internally to support our network. We have brought in senior specialists in the areas of IT, marketing, service delivery, and quality assurance to set up the business for the future as well as supporting our members.
  • We announced new partnerships with finance lenders, finance brokers, manufacturers, investors and West Yorkshire Trading Standards, to provide our customers with new model documentation for 2020 that will help cover you across all bases, from a legal perspective.

Similarly, as we have done, home improvement installers may be reflecting and evaluating the past 12 months to set some goals for the year ahead. As well as personal goals, home improvement installers might be looking at the home improvement industry and setting themselves work-related goals based on the changing marketplace. So, what changed in the home improvement industry in 2019?

Smart Technology

2019 saw big advancements in smart technology. From smart doors to smart sound systems and even smart doorbells, there are now many ways that customers can ‘smartify’ their homes. A survey carried out by OnePoll has revealed that 57% of homes have a smart device of some sort to control their appliances with 45% of those surveyed planning to make their home even smarter. [1]  To find out more about smart homes, check out our blog here.

Sustainability

It is no surprise that 2019 saw a huge increase in homeowners focusing on reducing their energy consumption, not just to save money but also to help the environment.

For example, for glaziers, as the world takes on a more anti-plastic approach in their daily lives, installers may have experienced more questions from customers when considering uPVC for their home and/or an increase in recycled materials being used within the market.

With this trend over 2019, we can expect to see more homeowners looking to incorporate sustainable products within their homes over the next few years, as well as incorporating renewable energy. Market analysis by IAE has forecasted that the surge in renewables is likely to be led by solar PV in the years 2019 – 2024. [2]

DIY Generation

Over the years the DIY generation has steadily gained pace and is predicted to continue in 2020. Due to more homeowners improving their home rather than moving it is no surprise that the rate of DIYers is increasing. A survey carried out by Hiscox shows that just 3% of homeowners opted to improve their existing home instead of moving in 2013 but by 2018 the figure increased to 15%. [3]

[1] https://www.smarthomeweek.co.uk/smart-homes/

[2] iea.org/reports/renewables-2019

[3] https://www.hiscox.co.uk/sites/uk/files/documents/2018-03/Hiscox_renovations_extensions_report_2018.pdf

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Propensio launches new 2-tier rate product 14.9% Rate / 19.9% Rate

Propensio Finance, an affiliate partner of QASSS (QA Scheme Support Services), has just launched a brand new 2-tier rate product, widening their credit offer to both sub-prime and near-prime customers to help retailers and installers generate more business.

Propensio Finance specialises in providing fast, flexible, non-prime lending to the home improvement market, widening the customer base for installers, helping those consumers with less than perfect credit scores gain finance and helping installers convert more sales. 

Their new 2-tier rate product includes the 19.9% rate for sub-prime customers and a new 14.9% rate for near-prime customers with no subsidy to the installers. The new product is already generating interest and is helping installers offer wider propositions and generate more business, as well as enabling more customers to access finance for home improvements.

Consider this…

Propensio accepted £10m of business in 2019; ALL of it at 19.9%. Much of this had been sold at the Point of Sale at 9.9% or even, IFC or BNPL or low rate finance and yet over 60% of the deals they accepted went all the way through to payout so trust them when they say that non-prime customers do not expect to get prime rates – they are happy that you are able to find them finance for their project.

Now with their 2-tier acceptance plan, some of those customers may even get a better rate of 14.9% and, even at 19.9% is equivalent to many people’s standard credit card rate.

Don’t prejudge! Let the customer choose

Propensio Finance wants to work with installers and companies who are FCA regulated. If you’re interested in finding out more and working with Propensio Finance, please register your interest by clicking here.

Benefits of Propensio Finance

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Swift and efficient onboarding
  • No subsidies, so no impact on supplier margin
  • In-house team of experts to help you get the most out of your lending
  • Dedicated National Business Managers on hand to support and assist with training

HICS, DGCOS & HIES Launch a New Installer Hub for Members

It’s an early Christmas for our scheme members. We are proud to announce that we launched our Installer Hub for DGCOSHIES and HICS members on 13th December.

The Installer Hub brings together an online shop and job registration portal, making it easy for our members to order their marketing material AND register their jobs, all on the one site.

The Installer Hub will offer the following benefits:

  • Marketing material will be easy to order 24/7
  • The job registration and marketing material will be in one place
  • Members can replenish their stock whenever they want
  • Speedy delivery for marketing materials

Scheme members benefit from:

  • Increased profit margins
  • Increased sales conversion rate
  • Reduce cancellation rates
  • Access for finance facilities

and much more…

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director at DGCOS, HIES & HICS, commented:

“We are pleased to launch our new Installer Hub, it will save our members time as they can order their marketing materials easily and quickly at any time of the day. A big thank you to our members during 2019, it’s been a great year, and we look forward to working with you in 2020.”

Scheme members should have received an email with step by step instructions on how to use the Installer Hub. If this is not the case, or you would like to discuss this further, please contact our service delivery team via phone on 0333 323 2655 or servicedelivery@qasss.co.uk

Access to both the job registration portal and marketing materials will be available via the NEW Installer Hub site.

Propensio Finance joins HICS as a new Affiliate Partner

QA Scheme Support Services (QASSS) who operate home improvement consumer protection schemes (HIES, HICS and DGCOS) are pleased to accept and welcome Propensio Finance, as a new Affiliate Partner.

Propensio Finance specialise in providing fast, flexible, non-prime lending to the home improvement market, widening the customer base for installers to those with less than perfect credit scores, helping convert more sales.

Dave Hindle, Managing Director of Propensio Finance, commented,

We are thrilled to have become accredited as an Affiliate Partner, working with QASSS and their home improvement consumer schemes. We want to work with reputable installers, who already provide finance to consumers, to give them a broader range of finance options including specialist non-prime finance, helping those consumers with a less than perfect credit score spread the cost of their home improvements.”

Important factors in Propensio Finance’s accreditation process were their commitment to understanding installer and customer needs, swift and efficient management of the process and their competitive interest rates.

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director of QASSS, commented,

“We are delighted to welcome Propensio Finance as our latest Affiliate Partner. It’s great to work with a partner who is committed to inclusive and responsible lending in the non-prime marketplace. This means that installers can offer unsecured loans with competitive interest rates to customers who would normally be turned down.”

From replacement boilers, fitted kitchens and bathrooms to new uPVC windows and conservatories, Propensio Finance can often accept customer applications that your first line lender can’t, giving companies and installers a wider range of funding options, enabling companies the ability to deliver their products to a more extensive customer base.

Propensio Finance want to work with installers and companies who are FCA regulated or can offer finance through an appointed representative. If you want to find out more about Propensio Finance and their lending options, register your interest by following the link here.

Notes:

Who are Propensio Finance?

Propensio Finance is a specialist provider of point of sale, non-prime consumer finance to a portfolio of introducer partners in the home improvements sector. They have over 60 years’ experience collectively in the home improvement sector. Propensio Finance help customers with a less-than-perfect credit history obtain the credit they are seeking to fund their project.

Who is QASSS?

QASSS is a business support service to companies and organisations working in the glazing, building, renewables and home improvement sectors. QASSS specialise in dispute resolution services, remedial works management, access and management of reputable installer network, marketing campaign support and other services that may support the needs of home improvement businesses.