Ebony explains how we've supported new starters during the coronavirus pandemic
Our customer service team handle 33,000 telephone calls, 4,900 emails and more than 1,000 social media messages every month. Needless to say; they are a crucial part of the work that we do to enable our customers and the communities that they live within to thrive.
I recently caught up with Ebony Samuels, one of the newest team members of our customer service team, based in Wolverhampton, to hear about her experiences of working for Bromford and what attracted her to apply for the role.
Hi Ebony, thanks for agreeing to talk with me. So, tell me, what did you do before joining Bromford?
I was a nail technician.
Quite a change for you then. How did you hear about the position?
I went to a christening and saw an old friend who works for Bromford. We got talking, and she mentioned that Bromford had an open day coming up. She sent me the link, I looked into it, and here I am now!
What attracted you to join us?
After working around my two little boys doing nails, I wanted more structure and stability, so I decided this would be ideal. To be able to go to work and socialize with different people and be more than just a mum.
How did you feel before joining us?
I was nervous before I started as I have not worked in an office environment for a very long time. Then, with this pandemic happening all at the same time, it was quite overwhelming.
No doubt, it must have been a strange time for you. How long have you been with us now?
I have been with Bromford since March (yes, right at the start of lockdown). I am a customer service advisor, dealing with customer enquiries. It’s mainly telephone-based, but we also deal with electronic queries through email, online forms and social media.
Tell us a little bit about the work you and your team do?
We deal with many different types of requests. You could be raising repairs, coaching customers or taking a rent call. Some calls may just be asking when a repair has booked in for, but you can get more difficult calls. That is what makes it great - no day is the same! Different conversations with different people, and knowing you have managed to help someone is a good feeling.
What was it like to join a new company during the coronavirus pandemic?
It was absolutely bizarre! On my first day, there were seven of us newbies, we walked into the office and sat down for half an hour setting up our laptops. Then off we went with our box of new stationery and our laptop in hand. Back home, we went where we would stay for many more weeks completing our virtual induction.
This was a unique experience for me. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to start during the pandemic. I was concerned about what was going to happen and how I would be able to learn anything from home, but it worked out fine.
So, have you been based solely at home or have you been into the office at all?
I have done both. My training was at home - then I came into the office when I started answering calls so I could get extra support when needed.
That’s great, tell me more about the support you’ve received.
My team leader has been great - he has been very supportive, regularly checking up on my progress and checking if any additional support is needed. We have regular contact and have a meeting with the newbies in his team - a good way to catch up and let him know what we have been up to. It is also a good way to have a chat with each other.
You touched on your training earlier, what has that been like?
The training was interesting as it was all done online. It was hard at times because there was no one there in front of you to ask questions. Even though they were all available to help and support me, I felt as though I didn’t want to keep calling or messaging with questions at first…but that soon changed by the end of it I had one of the team on speed dial!
I’ve had lots of support from many colleagues during our training - they used a variety of methods to teach us different things. A lot of thought and effort went into our virtual training: from videos to demos and presentations.
Microsoft Teams helped loads because we were able to chat, help each other and had catch-ups each day. All the newbies got a buddy who we would contact daily, find out information about Bromford and chat with so we could get to know people who already work there.
That sounds great, you’re certainly making the most of the technology that’s available to you. I like the sound of that buddy system too. How have customers responded to the new ways we've had to work and have there been any challenges?
Most of the customers have been really understanding and are happy with the procedures we are following when engineers are going out.
Do customers know how they can get hold of us?
We have a number of different ways that customers can contact us, including this brilliant online portal which has everything from booking a repair, paying rent or contacting your neighbourhood coach. For those who cannot get online, or prefer to speak to someone, we are happy for customers to call through to the team too.
Thanks Ebony. And finally, if somebody was looking to apply for a job to join your team, what would you say to them?
I would say GO FOR IT! I have already referred a friend to come and join Bromford.
If you’d like to see what a career with Bromford can offer you, perhaps you’re looking for a job in the customer service team like Ebony, take a look at our jobs pages.