Wednesday – Essential Customer Service Skills & Capabilities

01 October 2021

This week we are celebrating #NCSW21.

We spoke to Jamie O’Rourke about the importance of training and to Maria Rodman about why Carpenters have embarked on the journey to achieve ISO10002 Accreditation in Complaints Handling and Customer Service.

Jamie O’Rourke is a Trainer and has worked for Carpenters Group for over 4 years. He is currently delivering customer service training to all legal colleagues that underpins the importance of impartial and timely complaint handling practices. Here he talks about the importance of training customer service.

"Here at Carpenters Group we believe that great customer service is the cornerstone of our business. Whilst it is vital we understand the rules and regulations that govern our business, without top-level customer service, we are doomed for failure.

Like most walks of life over the last 18 months or so due to Covid, the world of training has had to learn to be more agile and flexible than it ever has before. Gone are the days were training was nearly always in the classroom. Now we deliver our sessions in person, via video call, we have recordings of our training sessions to fit in with the individual’s needs and that is complimented with a comprehensive online learning catalogue. This approach has allowed us to not only continue our training programme during the pandemic but also actually improve it!

One key focus for us over the last year has been to assess our client care and how we deal with complaints. The old saying goes “you can’t please 100% of people, 100% of the time” but that does not mean you cannot try. We have been looking at our processes when dealing with unhappy clients and what we can do to avoid that scenario where possible. That leads us to think about the importance of building rapport with our client’s at the earliest opportunity and taking an assertive approach to our case handling.

In terms of building rapport, this is actually a skill we have all had since we were toddlers. Whether it be siblings or family members, nursery or school, from a young age we learn how to interact with others and build those relationships. Sadly, those skills are often forgotten when we move into a professional environment but here at Carpenters Group, we want a different approach.

We do want a positive working relationship with our clients. We do want the client to feel at ease when dealing with us. We want that human touch to what can often feel like a transactional interaction. We believe that when we achieve we are far more equipped to meet challenges head on and deal with our client’s claim in the most efficient of ways.

A key aspect of that learning curve has been to understand that our clients are individuals with individual needs and vulnerabilities. A “one size fit’s all” approach will not cut it. If we are to achieve our goals in customer service, it is vital that we understand what our clients need is and how we can deliver this. Understanding the personality behind the reference number and adapting our approach to suit increases our chances of success immeasurably.

I am passionate about good customer service and as a trainer, thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the work. The pandemic may have slowed this at the start but after the first few weeks we were back up and running and have not only continued our training programme but developed it further, with customer service at the forefront of our aims in every session."


Maria Rodman is Head of Risk and Compliance at Carpenters Group and she tells us why Carpenters have embarked on the journey to achieve ISO10002 Accreditation in Complaints Handling and Customer Service.

"Everyone rightfully expects good service from businesses and for things to be put right should they go wrong. Complaint handling is a crucial metric for performance and quality of the service provided in all areas of business. Given the level of consumer rights awareness, number and type of channels available through which clients can voice their dissatisfaction, it is no wonder that customers feel confident in raising their concerns.  Customers know that a company’s reputation is critical to their business and companies that manage complaint handling well, encourage feedback (and act on that feedback) increase customer loyalty which enhances their reputation.

Carpenters Group receive far more positive reviews resulting from exceptional service where an individual has gone out of their way to help them than we do negative reviews. We review all feedback and act on the negative and our ultimate success is to turn a negative review into a positive. It is how you deal with the complaint that is key, usually it is a case of simply wanting their experience acknowledged and this can often by resolved by a simple apology – ignoring dissatisfaction is most likely to result in the worst possible outcome for all concerned.

Follow simple principles:

  • Be customer focused;
  • Be open and accountable;
  • Act fairly and proportionately;
  • When things go wrong, put them right;
  • Learn from complaints and customer feedback for continuous improvement of our service.

Carpenters already hold a number of ISO accreditations that provide numerous benefits internally and an assumption of quality and protection externally. The ISO10002 complaints and customer service accreditation provides additional benefits.

  • A measurable quality framework that underpins the complaint handling process and sets a consistent standard;
  • Internal and external auditing to assess complaint handling performance and identity remediation activities;
  • Drives a cultural change within the firm focusing on positive aspects of complaints using them for education, training and continuous improvement of our service;
  • Demonstrates a commitment in complaints handling and customer service to existing and potential commercial clients and regulatory bodies;
  • Align our customer service strategies with existing and potential commercial clients;
  • Extending our ISO stable to extend the protection, benefit and security offered to all of our clients;

The objectives of the accreditation are improving our customer service and complaint handling including the way we treat complainants, improving the customer journey and meeting the expectations of our insurer clients. All of our staff are receiving further customer skills and complaint training and this accreditation will not only help improve our colleague skills, it is of real value to our both our lay clients and insurers and demonstrates our commitment to best practice in complaint handling and customer service."