Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Air-Conditioning Europe Ltd (MHIAE), based in Uxbridge, Middlesex, is a leading provider of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Its products include high-efficiency systems for cooling and heating air and water, for use in residential, commercial and industrial settings. Owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and part of the Mitsubishi Group, MHIAE sells its products via a network of European distributors. MHIAE prides itself on delivering a reliable, high-quality service to all customers, both to uphold Mitsubishi’s brand perception in the market and to maintain and grow sales in a competitive market.
Its distributors each have experienced service teams and qualified field engineers who install and provide ongoing technical assistance for MHIAE systems. They in turn are supported by dedicated MHIAE technical personnel, information and innovative support tools.
As part of its strategy to keep enhancing the customer experience, MHIAE wanted to make it easier for after-sales service engineers to diagnose faults so they could achieve a speedier resolution for customers.
We’ve had tremendously good feedback. The app is so easy to download and use, the reception has been wonderfully positive. One Beyond have been extremely responsive to all of our requests, and pulled out all the stops to create a fantastic product. We worked very well together, and I’m very pleased indeed with the result.
“Instead of having to look up the model number and refer to the technical manual, we wanted to give them the tools to identify the product, error code and fault type quickly and effortlessly while on site,” explains Media Khalel, senior technical sales engineer for air conditioning at MHIAE. “All the engineers were asking us for an app to make this easier, as they’d seen such tools used elsewhere.”
MHIAE turned to One Beyond, a locally-based development company which Mitsubishi had previously commissioned to develop an online stock resource for sales people, giving them access to the latest details of all available HVAC systems via their laptops.
They’re delighted with the tool. It makes their lives so much easier. They like the QR scanning option, and can find the answers they need much more quickly - which helps them to give a better service and impress the customer.
One Beyond favours a very collaborative approach to development, working closely with the client to deliver an early working prototype of its software, which MHIAE likes. “Being face to face is important to get everything right; it’s much better than having to rely on email,” Ms Khalel says.
MHIAE’s priority was to produce an intuitive app that all engineers could use easily from whichever mobile phone or device they were carrying. Other must-haves included the ability to scan a product’s QR code, and to look up error codes quickly to speed up fault diagnosis and resolution.
Because MHIAE covers the whole of Europe and (via partners) the rest of the world, it was important that the system would be able to support multiple languages, so this too was specified as an upfront requirement. The company also wanted the ability to add new products and error code information via a central portal, without the need for special help and without creating extra work in transferring those updates to each engineer.
One Beyond, a Microsoft Gold Partner, built the central portal and linked app using the latest Microsoft technology, including ASP.NET MVC 5 and C#, with SQL Server as the database. Because engineers could be using any of a wide range of smartphones or tablet devices, One Beyond used the cross-platform mobile environment Xamarin to build the app. This is available as a free download from Apple and Android app stores.
The service app has been extremely well received by MHIAE’s distributors and engineers, who have commented on the difference it makes to the way they work. “They’re delighted with the tool,” Ms Khalel says. “It makes their lives so much easier. They like the QR scanning option, and can find the answers they need much more quickly – which helps them to give a better service and impress the customer.”
The level of take-up speaks for itself. The tool is not mandatory, yet from Google’s Play Store alone, more than 1,000 engineers had downloaded the app within a month of it going live.
For Ms Khalel, the ability to update information centrally via the portal for automatic synchronisation to the app means the new tool is very easy to manage and to keep updated with the latest stock and service information. “What I like is that I can do this myself; I don’t need to get someone in do it,” she says.
Once the app has been widely taken up, MHIAE will start to build on it with additional features and functionality. “We wanted to keep it fairly simple at first, to ensure user acceptance and maximise its ease of use, but we have lots of plans and will use the feedback from the engineers to add new options,” Ms Khalel explains.
Demand for additional language support is already strong. “We’ve already been asked to translate the app into a number of additional languages, which we can do because we had this facility built into the software,” she notes. “This is the next step.”
One Beyond have been extremely responsive to all of our requests, and pulled out all the stops to create a fantastic product. We worked very well together, and I’m very pleased indeed with the result.
In the meantime, all the signs are that the app’s arrival has been very well timed. “We’ve had tremendously good feedback,” Ms Khalel concludes. “The app is so easy to download and use, the reception has been wonderfully positive. One Beyond have been extremely responsive to all of our requests, and pulled out all the stops to create a fantastic product. We worked very well together, and I’m very pleased indeed with the result.”