Cream of the crop

Published:  15 April, 2016

Dr Elaine Lancaster discusses how manufacturers put design and quality of manufacturing for the installer at the heart of their business.

Quality is often defined by a strong, established brand, such as Velcro, Coca-cola or Hoover. These household names have raised standards to the extent that they have eclipsed all other brands in their sector and become the generic trademark.

The superiority of product, approach to the market and customer service offered by these companies goes above and beyond, offering the kind of reliability and performance that customers will remember.

This same ethos is shared by many manufacturers in the HVAC industry and specifically underpins the design, quality and manufacturing processes of the boiler - from research and development, testing and production to sales, training and technical support, boiler manufacturers work hard to ensure performance, reliability and safety.

Development and testing

Common to manufacturing in every sector, product approval and production processes need to adhere to stringent quality standards as well as meet regulatory obligations, and every boiler is functionally tested to ensure it works right, first time.

Using quality materials and durable components are key to the integrity and efficient running of a boiler. Many manufacturers produce their own proprietary parts or work alongside well-known suppliers of component parts to ensure dependability.

Due to the strides being made in the industry, modern condensing boilers can be very similar in terms of efficiency. Where individual boiler manufacturers differ is in the ability to respond to customer feedback and incorporate this in the design and development of the product.

For instance, simplified layouts that enable straightforward installation and servicing of the boiler make life easier for the installer, while clear, easy to use controls improve the user experience.

Longer warranties, greater confidence

A warranty from a manufacturer shows the company’s confidence to put its money where its mouth is, guaranteeing its commitment to ensuring the reliability of the boiler for both installers and their customers.

 

When an installer recommends a product, it is not only the boiler manufacturer’s reputation that is at stake - the installer needs to be confident that their recommendation will deliver performance as expected.

If it breaks down, the customer will be dissatisfied and the installer will need to return to the premises to assist them, costing time, money and their reputation as well as negatively impact the brand’s value.

Putting the customer first

The customer is at the heart of everything in this industry. Whether manufacturers, merchants or installers, giving high priority to customer service is what differentiates a great business from its competitors.

Key priorities for a householder purchasing a new boiler are energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing an old, inefficient boiler with an A-rated, high-efficiency condensing boiler and improving heating controls could save householders as much as £305 per year.

Beyond this, it is crucial that installers are able to reassure the customer that, should anything go wrong, the manufacturer has an expert after-sales technical team, available seven days a week at the end of a phone, via email or social media.

Continuous improvements

Quality is an on-going process. Manufacturers and their suppliers have invested years of experience in design advances, technology development and reliability testing to improve the performance of products.

An important part of this includes listening to customers and actively seeking feedback on how products and services can be improved, as well as contact within the industry and academic bodies regarding incorporating the requirements of legislative changes and research findings.

Installers are always at the forefront of the product development process, because they are the ones in the field working with the products every day. Their opinions are extremely important in order to ensure the finished product is simple, straightforward to fit and easy to service.

Installers should look for this quality ethos when choosing products to recommend and manufacturers to work with. This will offer them the best possible chance of turning leads into work and ensure customer satisfaction and recommendation.

Dr Elaine Lancaster is chief technical officer at Ideal Boilers.

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