Neil's Story - Service with Respect Campaign
12 October 2020
5 minute read.
Carpenters Group are proud to support the the 'Service with Respect' campaign in association with The Institute of Customer Service. Read more about it here
We've interviewed our front-line colleagues across our Insurance Services and Legal Services departments to hear their first-hand insight.
"Hi, my name is Neil and I am an FRU Academy Trainer at Carpenters Group. I have worked here for 12 months and I enjoy the challenge of helping people to reach their maximum potential and to achieve things that they never thought that they could.
The past few months have been difficult. The business has experienced substantial changes during the pandemic, with an increase in calls from customers and significant changes in how we have had to operate. Becoming consistently agile and adaptive as coaches and trainers has been imperative during these uncertain times.
With everything that has happened, I have personally noticed a change in attitude from customers. They have become a lot more patient than they used to be. Presumably they too have experienced dramatic changes in their own lives and now understand and appreciate the difficulties in working from home. . However, a proportion of people are clearly anxious and frustrated about the current situation and the sense of the unknown is deeply unsettling for both customers and our employees.
We pride ourselves on providing the best possible customer experience and strive to achieve this with each person we speak to. We often deal with people who are dealing with tremendous stress and pressure associated with being in a car accident. We recently had one case where a key worker was left without a vehicle due to being involved in an accident that was through no fault of their own. She was concerned that she would not be able commute to work or be able to afford the repairs to her vehicle. Our team liaised with various third party partners and arranged for our customers’ car to be recovered and repaired and provided her with a replacement vehicle in the interim. All of this was done in one call. Our customer expressed how grateful she was and how quick and easy we made the whole process.
As a trainer for both new and existing members of staff within Carpenters, I have experienced many challenges over the past few months. There have been the obvious and expected ones such as the technological and logistical difficulties associated with moving all training from exclusively in office training to exclusively digital and working from home. This has included redesigning interventions to ensure their effectiveness and employee engagement in a new and distant method.
The whole team of agents have had to cope with the stresses of handling difficult and sometimes abusive customers in isolation. Previously, working in one of our offices, our agents have had the psychological reassurance of having support available to them instantly and are within earshot and the vision of a manager at all times. Although support is always available, it is an inevitable consequence that with our agents working from home, we have not been able to be present with the agent when dealing with these types of calls. It is something that our agents are trained to deal with, but having support at all times can help to calm and relax agents, particularly when they or their family and friends may be going through a very difficult period.
To counteract this as much as possible we have been “checking in” with agents much more regularly that we used to when we were office based. We have various methods and tools that we can utilise such as phone calls, emails, and online chat applications. As different people want support in different ways we try to offer it in as many formats as we possibly can. Offering support by just reminding them that we are always contactable and available to help when needed is not really viable anymore and we have learnt that we need to be more proactive to support our staff. We have increased our training to cope better with these circumstances and now spend roughly triple the amount of time performing role-plays with difficult customers and practicing soft skills than we used too.
The past few months have been a steep learning curve for us all in so many ways and whilst no systems will ever be perfect, we’ve learnt by experience and have quickly adapted our processes to meet the challenges of the current circumstances."