UK service provider QubeGB is gearing up to offer ‘Uber-style’ real-time booking for its telecom and ISP customers.

We’ve all been spoiled by the on-demand economy where cabs, groceries, and a host of other services are available at the tap of a button. UK broadband and telecom service firm QubeGB wants to get in on the act in the near future by offering its customers instantaneous bookings.

On-demand scheduling is a complex logistical issue that’s only now on QubeGB’s radar because the company recently updated its approach to field service management.

“We deal with two-hour slots now. Real-time booking is a genie out of the bottle for us, but it’s the Uber way,” says QubeGB CEO Mussy Kurt-Elli, whose 500 engineers across the UK perform field services for most of the UK’s major telecom providers, including BT, TalkTalk, Sky, EE, and Virgin Media.

Guaranteeing two-hour slots is difficult to manage, Kurt-Elli admits, and real-time booking will be exponentially more difficult, but customers now expect speed and convenience whether they request a taxi or a technician to fix their home WiFi connection.

New Tech Fuels Rapid Growth

Real-time bookings are just the next step for a company that has recently made significant technology investments and dramatically grown its business. When Kurt-Elli joined in April 2014, the company, although successful, lacked resilience as 90 percent of its business came from a single client.

Mussy Kurt-Elli

Kurt-Elli set about diversifying QubeGB’s customer base, which now includes all but one of the UK’s top-tier telecom providers. In the process, he realized that engineers in the field needed better technology.

Engineers previously used tablets, running custom work order management software that was frustrating for engineers to use — and expensive to maintain. Replacing that outdated system with ServiceMax provided the technological backbone to fuel QubeGB’s expansion plans.

Now, QubeGB’s field engineers access customer history and product information on iPads, which has created a 15 to 20 percent boost in productivity. “On a monthly basis, we used to do 50,000 jobs. Now that’s around 60,000 jobs — and that translates into hard cash.”

Embracing the Startup Break/Fix Mentality

Back-office staff has also changed the way they do things. “We have a team that does nothing but workflow and process design. There’s the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But we told them to break it and try to fix it for the better.”

By putting its processes under the microscope, QubeGB has shrunk nearly 400 separate workflows down to 90.

Alongside real-time booking, Kurt-Elli sees telecom companies one day offering maintenance contracts to bring in recurring revenue. Customers would pay a monthly fee, which would include a preventive health check of all their internet-related devices and entitle them to VIP treatment if anything were to go wrong.

“Is that a risk?” asks Kurt-Elli. “The answer is no, because I know when an engineer visits a customer’s home to fix a problem, only 20 percent — maximum — of those customers will have a recurring fault within 12 months. The ROI of doing the service will be much higher than today, possibly doubling profitability.”

But providing those new services will require technicians who have both the technical know-how and proper soft skills training to instill confidence in customers. Service calls can be stressful situations, Kurt-Elli says, “but you have to turn that around and make the customer happy — make them believe that everything will work and that you have all the time in the world for them.”

ABOUT Janine Milne

Avatar photoJanine Milne has been writing about HR, technology and business for more than 20 years, both as a freelancer and as an in-house editor.