After just 30 minutes, Josué Molina tightens the last screws to complete installation of a new Envirofit plancha stove in a rural household in Honduras. Reaching into his bag, he searches for the final piece. It is one of the most important components of the stove, a bright yellow sticker which he places on the front. Josué explains to the family how to use and care for the new plancha, and afterwards points to the sticker which displays the phone number of the Envirofit Honduras Customer Care line. With this in place, Josué and his team know that this family will continue to be supported after they move on to install more cookstoves in homes throughout Honduras.
With many cookstove interventions, the interaction with households ends when the customer takes their stove home. For Envirofit, this is the beginning. The Envirofit Customer Care Team is the first large-scale after-sales customer support program for cookstove owners. It is a part of Envirofit’s SMAAART 360 Program, whose three As stand for Adoption, Affordability and Access to clean energy technology. It is a pioneering new approach to ensure that stoves are being adopted, and that families are satisfied with them.
Customer Service Increases Adoption
The Envirofit Honduras Customer Care Team supports customers with a dedicated call center staff who answer the Customer Care line, and with a field team that handles installations, repairs and provides hands-on assistance. To date, they have made almost 3,500 in-person visits, and have contacted and supported over 82,400 of the 160,000 households who have received a cookstove through the Honduran government’s Vida Mejor program. Impressively, the Customer Care Team has been able to confirm that 97% of families are using their stove regularly, are satisfied with it, and that it is working correctly.
The stove at the center of the program is the Ecofogon El Ahorrador. It was specially designed by Envirofit for President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the Vida Mejor program to replace the smoky and inefficient traditional stoves that have been in use throughout Latin America for hundreds of years. Founded by President Orlando, the Vida Mejor (Better Life) program seeks to help raise the standard of living for Honduran families in poverty by providing them with education and household improvements such as roofs, floors, gardens, water filters and cookstoves. Implementation of Envirofit cookstoves is handled by FUNDEIH, a Honduran non-profit who installs the stoves and trains families on proper usage and maintenance. The Envirofit Customer Care team supports FUNDEIH both in the homes and via the call center to ensure customer satisfaction and proper function.
Marcio Noé, Envirofit Honduras’s Customer Care Manager, is responsible for helping new and current stove owners get the most from their Ecofogon El Ahorrador, to help encourage adoption. To achieve this, he sets ambitious goals for his team of 25 people who input customer data, answer questions over the phone, and make house-calls to stove owners for follow-up instruction and repairs. The Customer Care Center works out of the city of Valle de Amarateca, along with 120 co-workers in the factory who help with producing the stoves. Though the city is centrally located in Honduras, the Customer Care Team efficiently provide service to thousands of households around the country by developing best practices informed by the large amount of customer satisfaction data they collect.
Reaching Out to Customers
The Customer Care Team answers questions as they come in, but what sets them apart in the clean cookstove sector is the proactive calls they make to stove owners. The first call comes one month after installation. This call is intended to build on information given during installation, and reinforce the benefits of using improved cookstoves while ensuring that the stove is functioning properly. If stove owners report an issue the Customer Care team works to resolve it over the phone or by scheduling an in-home visit. If everything is satisfactory on this initial call, the team will make periodic follow-up calls throughout the first year of ownership to make sure this continues to be the case.
The work that Marcio’s team does in the office, and crew leaders like Josué Molina’s on Field Service, Paola Larios in Carbon Credit/Data Input, and Heizel Zelaya in Call Center, also help to improve Envirofit stoves that are in use around the world. Customer feedback is a key part of Envirofit’s SMAAART™ 360 Program. Providing customer care and conducting impact reporting helps build trust with stove owners after installation, which is a key factor in overcoming cultural barriers to new technology in order to encourage long-term adoption. Along with keeping households happy, Envirofit gains valuable insights about how their stoves perform in the field that will inform future stove designs.
During follow-up calls, the Customer Care team also performs impact assessments to quantify the difference stove ownership has made. These assessments have shown that by using their Ecofogon EL Ahorrador, 90% of surveyed families reported saving money and time on wood, with 73% reporting wood savings of $10-45 a month. Households also report lower incidences of asthma symptoms and other benefits from reduced exposure to smoke.
By combining an enterprise approach to customer service with a public/private partnership program, Envirofit and the Honduran Government are realizing beneficial household and environmental outcomes for hundreds of thousands of families throughout Honduras. In doing so they have built a customer service model that drives adoption and is replicable and scalable for cookstoves programs throughout the world.
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