Customer Care

Of course there are essential skills and behavioural standards that examiners should live up to in front of customers. However, this section is only about the customer care principles at play and the basic pointers to ensure customer satisfaction.

Having years of experience and daily dealings with customers means that many examiners have honed their skills in communicating face-to-face, on the telephone, via e-mail or in a report. However, it may be the case that individual examiners can find some specific improvements by taking advantage of various learning opportunities. This website is not the place for that, but there many oppenings out there, such from professional bodies, local business forums, evening classes, etc.

In these pages we look at why the highest standards of customer care and how the adoption of best professional practices are likely to benefit your business and at the same time, influence your customers to be more safe.

We also provide a few basic pointers to help you to ensure your customer's expectations are not just met, but you can see that they are exceeded.

And please do not forget if the Boat Safety Scheme Examination result is 'Yes' or 'Yes, but some advice checks did not pass', it is a given a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, which is valid for four years.

You must provide the owner of the owner's representative with a full BSS Certification report either on a paper print out, or as a electronic file, or both if the owner wishes and request a copy both ways.

Encourage the owner to keep the report very safe and not to lose it as their insurance company, marina, broker or purchaser of the boat could well demand sight of the document.

Pointers to Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations

Preparing for the examination:

Please remember this:

If the Boat Safety Scheme Examination result is 'Yes' or 'Yes, but some advice checks did not pass', the boat is given a Boat Safety Scheme Certificate, which is valid for four years.

You must provide the owner of the owner's representative with a full BSS Certification report either on a paper print out, or as a electronic file, or both if the owner wishes and request a copy both ways.

Find out:

  • the owners name, address, telephone number (day/evening);
  • name and type of boat, index number or registration number (if any) to help identify the boat accurately at a later date;
  • the boats mooring, in order to estimate travelling time and fuel costs;
  • whether the boat is a hire boat or a place of residence and as such gas testing restrictions apply;
  • whether the boat, if new, is CE/CA marked;
  • whether all the boat's systems are present and functional and as such whether 'decommissioning' guidance applies;
  • the type/number of engine(s) installed, type of fuel, presence of LPG installation, presence of 12/24V DC and/or 230V AC electrical services; in order to accurately estimate the examination cost to the customer.

Which Examination checking procedures?

The first question to ask your customer - which Certification i.e. which set of BSS Requirements is the navigation authority asking for your boat to comply with; Private Boat, Hire Boat Requirements (2017) or Non-Private Boat Requirements (2002)?

Neither Examiners nor the BSS Office can stipulate which boat has what Examination, only the navigation authority can state what set of requirement it wish to support that boats registration/licence/mooring permission application.

If your customer is unsure, refer them to the relevant navigation authority for a decision.

Agree with owner (in writing is the recommended method):

  • the class of Examination Checking Procedures / certification that is to be used
  • that the contract is for an BSS examination as set out in the BSS Essential Guide and that it is not a survey;
  • the cost, and be clear about this;
  • re-examination cost and arrangements, if necessary;
  • the method and timing of payment;
  • the means and method that customer wants examination & certification reports (paper or electronic or both) and by when e.g within two days*
  • the date and precise venue for the examination;
  • any need for the owner to secure any necessary permissions for the examiner to enter the place where the examination is to be carried out and enter on to the boat to carry out the examination;
  • any arrangements for closing the boat down after the examination in the event the owner is not present;
  • any steps to be taken by the owner to prepare the boat for examination;
  • that the boat is in a condition which does  not place the examiner at risk and that if a risk is encountered during the examination then the examination must cease.

Confirm that:

  • any manufacturer's documentation, statements or certificates which the owner wishes to use to demonstrate compliance where it cannot be determined by the checking procedures, will be available for examination;
  • water, gas, and electrical systems will be in working order;
  • anything which the examiner needs to see that requires the removal with tools of any panel, hatches or structure, or that is normally kept in locked lockers, boxes, or compartments, is exposed for examination;
  • for electric boats - the charging lead is available for examination;
  • for steam powered engines - the inspection certificate and current insurance policy or certificate are available for examination

What not to do

Don't comment on the licensing requirements or processes of the Navigation Authority - inacurate advice on this subject is the subject of frequent complaints from the Navigation Authorities and is bound to leave customers feeling unsatisfied.

Never say: 'The certificates are all online now, you don't need to worry about the report'

Encourage the owner to keep the report very safe and not to lose it as their insurance company, marina, broker or purchaser of the boat could well demand sight of the document.

At the time of the examination

  • present yourself to the marina office if necessary;
  • carry with you your BSS Examiner I/D card for presentation as necessary;
  • wear appropriate clothing and have with your appropriate personal protective equipment relevant to the circumstances overalls, gloves; suitable footwear, life-jacket etc;
  • have with you suitable equipment, torch, extending mirror, ruler/tape, calculator;
  • have with you suitable working tools, manometer (u-gauge), leak detection fluid, tools to open test point (e.g. screwdriver, spanners), test point washers, smoke match holder and matches.
  • arrive at the boat prepared and equipped to undertake the examination, BSS Examination documentation, warning notices, stickers, labels, BSS safety awareness leaflets .;
  • BSS Examination Checking Procedures and your checklist should be to hand;
  • if the owner or the owner's representative is present it is very important that they are kept informed - in a constructive and sympathetic manner - of any faults found during the course of the examination.  Be prepared to answer any questions they may have concerning the checks or the risk principles supporting them.

After the examination

  • communicate the outcome of the examination clearly and as soon as possible after the examination;
  • ensure any faults found are clearly identified in your online examination reports in a way that benefits your customers by describing precisely what it is that fails to meet the BSS requirements, where it is, and how it fails.  This can be done in very few words, for example, 7.8.4 - T' joint behind cooker not secured;
  • it is vital that even if any advice checks are found on a 'No' report and remain on your re-visit examination, all advice check failure comments are recorded on 'Yes, but some advice checks did not pass' reports, it is for your protection and possibly that of the next owner of the boat.
  • ensure that examinations are reported on Salesforce and certification reports with Terms & Conditions within two days, (*or five days with prior agreement with the customer, but no later)

Why Good Customer Care is Critical

In our experience, the highest standards of customer care together with the adoption of best professional practices are likely to have two beneficial impacts:

  • for you, it'll help ensure repeat business and new customers from recommendations;
  • for you, the BSS Office and the Navigation Authorities it will influence your customers to maintain their boats to the standards and believe and act upon the BSS safety awareness messages.

Some of your customers may know you well and others not at all. Very few are likely to have a full understanding of the BSS checks or the BSS examination process. In which case, their opinion of you, the BSS and boat safety messages will stem mostly from your contact with them and in particular the first impressions. 

What the customer takes away from the experience of meeting you; and having you peer into the all the nooks and crannies of their pride and joy, if not their home, is key. How you look, how you act, what you say and how you communicate (written and vocal) will likely decide whether the owner promotes your services to his friends and supports the safety concepts, or whether he does neither.

There is no better promotion than that of personal recommendation from someone you know. No advertising can match its power.

Most people agree that it feels good to be of service to someone, to make the BSS examination (what could have been a worrying experience) a positive experience.  This positive feeling can and should develop into a strong culture of customer care.  One of the main purposes of this website is to support examiners with the information that examiners can use with their customers to add the value for you and your customers and that will ensure a positive experience, every time.

Adopting this 'added value' approach will indicate to your customers that they're valued by you.  It's a mistake to assume that customers simply know you care about their custom and as such that there's no need to demonstrate this value.

At its most basic and important level, customer care is all about meeting and exceeding customer expectations.  Where there is a mismatch and examiners haven't met the customer's expectation, there is likely to be conflict and complaint - and so no repeat business or recommendations.

Showing customers that they're valued, is to take care of their need or request in a timely, efficient, and correct manner. At each and every customer contact, examiners should maintain a mind-set of earning the repeat business and recommendation of customers, never taking it for granted. 

One way of measuring yourself in this respect is to ask yourself '…would I be satisfied with the level of customer care I have just provided to my customer…'.

Your initial dealings with customers are of crucial importance to meeting customer expectations and avoiding complaints, following tips in this section may help.