Helping You Win Business-Changing Contracts
24 January 2017
We first met GCS in 2013 when they had a problem with their printer one weekend. Based in the same serviced office building as us back then, we happened to both be working on a Saturday when Tom asked for help. We’ve been best friends ever since! Working with themas their technology partner we have helped them to scale up their business to service a major national contract and halved their operational processes.
GCS help clients deliver and monitor energy saving measures, offering a range of surveying services including bespoke reports, technical monitoring, thermal imaging and health and safety auditing. The recent Energy Company Obligation and Green Deal has meant that the big six energy companies have an obligation to make an investment to help customers reduce their carbon footprint, presenting the business with a wealth of opportunities for its energy saving monitoring services. They have considerable experience in this field so when a tender opportunity arose to provide technical monitoring of energy nationwide for gas and electricity supplier Npower, GCS were quick to respond.
Tom Foulerton, Managing Director at GCS, explains: “Although we had previously only performed energy monitoring on a small, localised level, we knew that we had solid processes in place that we could scale up to service the Npower contract successfully across the whole of the UK.”
Laying the foundations for growth with secure IT Managed Services
The company’s tender application was successful and GCS was shortlisted to a list of three suppliers. As part of the selection process, Npower scheduled a visit to each of the shortlisted suppliers to ensure that they all had the technical infrastructure required to service the contract. Our IT Managed Services team already provided GCS with its internal IT infrastructure and we were responsible for maintaining and managing the set up with Tier 3 security and backup services. In advance of a visit from Npower, we were asked to ensure that all on-site equipment was performing to optimal standards. GCS certainly had the internal infrastructure to meet the expectations of the Npower brief, however the business still needed to scale up its existing service delivery for energy monitoring to cover the whole of the country.
Leveraging technology for transparency, timeliness and accuracy
Previously, GCS operated a number of labour intensive processes for energy monitoring. This involved manually passing information around the business from the service agent out in the field speaking to homeowners, who would then return to the head office to process and analyse results in bulk, before manually passing this back to the first party energy provider. For ad hoc energy monitoring projects this was a successful process but for larger jobs covering the entire country it would require a lot of time and risked inaccurate data moving through the system, making visibility of data poor.
In order to win the Npower contract, GCS needed to demonstrate that it could provide an enhanced customer experience at a national level. For energy monitoring projects of this scale, transparency, timeliness and accuracy of information is paramount and in order to be able to guarantee this to Npower, the business had to automate its processes.
Tom Foulerton continues the story: “Emerald introduced us to a new way of automating our energy monitoring service using a bespoke application called Emerald Cloud. It’s essentially a sync and share solution that allows you to quickly upload and share information between multiple sources. It gave us the capability for our surveyors in the field to upload survey data instantly to Emerald Cloud, which would automatically mail it to head office. They could then pull down the survey information, enter the data centrally and upload it to Npower at the other end, who would have their own Emerald Cloud access. Not only would this enable us to scale up our processes extremely quickly – in fact it took just a month for us to start using the solution confidently – it also meant that we could demonstrate to Npower that we could scale up our resources to service their contract effectively and efficiently.”
Emerald Cloud is a self-hosted enterprise file share and sync application for business which integrates with a company’s own IT infrastructure. For GCS and other customers we install, support, and host the application in our data centre in Northampton. However, introducing the application was only half the job. We worked closely with them to create a pilot for Npower. This was instrumental in securing the deal as well as demonstrating the high level of customer experience Npower would receive.
Setting up a pilot to demonstrate exceptional customer experience
GCS engaged its entire team in developing a pilot with us, which included simulating the use of Emerald Cloud to service the Npower contract during the site visit. Engineers sat in meeting rooms, performed mini surveys and then uploaded the data straight from the meeting room using their remote devices. The data was then picked by Head Office, where staff could instantly pull down the survey information, check the results and then record these in a spreadsheet. The data was then uploaded in report form to Npower’s office. The representatives from Npower, who sat in a different meeting room, and using their own log on details, were able to access the data in real time. This short but successful pilot was enough to convince Npower that GCS was able to provide them with a daily view on what is happening out in the field, how many surveys have been completed, where in the UK they have been performed, which ones passed, which ones failed and, therefore, which installers the business would need to take action against. This was key to ensuring that GCS won the contract, and the business started to work with Npower in August 2015.
Tom Foulerton says: “Using Emerald Cloud, we are able to send survey reports to Npower in half the time we could do it in previously. More importantly, it enables us to deliver a very high level of service to Npower, which was key in winning the contract. It has improved the productivity of our field service team, because they can just send data instantly from their mobile devices instead of recording it and taking it back to the office. For Npower, it means that information is always visible in real time, on demand.
“Npower love it. We’ve had nothing but positive comments from them about Emerald Cloud. It’s a very simple technology, but hugely powerful in terms of the benefits it can provide. It enables them to just log onto the application and they can always access up-to-date information. And it’s so easy and intuitive to use, we never need any training. Npower even told us recently that they wish they had the same process for their heating measures.”
We continue to work closely with GCS to refine its infrastructure and to help the business scale up its operations on demand. They have recently started using Emerald Cloud with another customer and always need to remain able to adapt and grow the platform.
Tom Foulerton concludes: “Although we work on some very big and exciting projects, GCS is still a small business with fewer than 20 employees, so it is a huge benefit to our company to be able to lean on a business like Emerald to help us keep our operations and IT infrastructure scalable. They can customise our technology and evolve it as we need them to, leaving us to focus on keeping our customers happy and delivering the greatest possible service. I have no doubt that without the introduction to Emerald Cloud and the small pilot that Emerald ran, we would not have won the Npower contract and almost certainly would not have been able to service it the way we do today.”