They’re a considerate bunch, our engineers. From pet whispering to spillage protocol, long-time team member Julie Dickson tells us what it takes to be the perfect house guest.
So Julie, you're a qualified engineer – but how did you prepare for your first British Gas home visit? Did you role play?
I was super-organised. My mentor took me out many times prior, so I knew roughly how the visit should go. I did feel a little pressure, in case something came up that I was a bit uncertain of. This just made it more exciting though!
Do you remember the first call out, and were you nervous?
I remember it as if it were yesterday. I even remember that it was a Worcester boiler! I was nervous, yes, but I was more excited than anything. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
How do you create an amazing first impression when you ring that doorbell?
It’s so important to smile. That first impression means everything.
And the golden question; shoes on or off?
Always on! I wear my shoe covers to make sure I don’t damage any flooring. This also gives a great first impression — lets your customer know you care.
What makes for a challenging home visit, and how do you leave knowing that you've been the perfect house guest anyway?
Every home visit has its challenges. It's all part of being an engineer, getting to understand what your customer needs. I like to try a joke — keep things light-hearted — which normally leads to a cup of tea! And I always thank my customer for their hospitality, as I leave. That tends to put a smile on their face.
So then, accepting tea. Polite, or faux pas?
Why not?! I love a good cuppa.
There's a drink spillage! What do you do?
PANIC! No, just kidding. Accidents happen, we’re only human after all. I always sit my cuppa on my dust sheet, so that if anything does go wrong it’s quickly rectified. And I always own up to accidents.
Do you receive any ongoing training in delivering world-class, face-to-face, care?
Of course! The whole engineer role is a constant learning curve. Engineers always share best practice tips with each other too.
What do you love most about meeting your customers?
Everyone is different. This makes our job really interesting. You learn to adapt to each person’s needs and situation. Never a dull day on the patch!
Top ice-breaking tips, for making people feel completely at ease?
Be friendly and positive. “I don’t think I can fix it” is just not acceptable. It’s our job to fix things, and it’s what we get a kick out of.
Any stand-out visits, where you bowled someone over with your good manners or personality?!
Nothing stands out in particular, but I’ve never had a bad bit of feedback. So I must be doing something right!
And are there any customers who made a big impression on you?
There have been a few. A month or two ago I fitted a Hive thermostat for a customer, to make it easier for her. She was in her 80s and her boiler was upstairs but she primarily lived downstairs. She was so accepting of new technology, which was great to see.
What makes you a good house guest?
Good manners. They cost nothing but make the biggest difference.
What are the absolute no-nos?!
Never leave things lying around in your customer’s home. It’s a health and safety hazard and you might lose something. And don’t forget to use a dust sheet! You want to give your customer the confidence that you care.
Tips for dealing with curious pets?
Let them come and say “hi” to you. You’re in their house! I never approach animals first, but if I’m passing I’ll slow down and let them have a nosy. Then they understand that I’m not there to hurt them.
What are your three most important home visit etiquette rules?
I can’t possibly stick to just three. Here are five: manners, cleanliness, honesty, listening to your customers’ needs and, finally, providing regular updates throughout the visit.
What was it about the British Gas values that drew you to them? Have you always worked here?
The values get us all thinking the same way about our role. Do what’s right, love simplicity and be extraordinary together. Though the wording may have changed over the years, the essence remains the same. I have worked for British Gas for 9 years now. Long may it continue!
What makes a British Gas engineer a cut above the rest?
The training, knowledge and on-job experience that we have established over the years. These are things that can’t be learnt overnight. They’re skills that are earned and encouraged by the wider team. British Gas is such a trusted household brand and I would like to think that all of our engineers promote that, when they visit homes across the country.
Our call centres are available 365 days a year, 24/7, and all labour and call-outs are included in customers’ HomeCare packages, unless they’ve opted for an excess fee. We are there to give our customers complete peace of mind.