Meet some of the team
CLARE LEES is a Customer Service Advisor and has been part of the South West Water Call Centre team since October, 2003. Before joining she was in petrol retailing. She helps about 90 customers a day, mainly answering questions about their accounts.
"I enjoy the work", Clare says. "You need to be able to listen to what customers have to say.
That requires patience and understanding. The rest follows. Customers are individuals and no two calls are the same." Outside of work Clare likes to keep the job in perspective by walking and enjoys the creative challenge of designing and making rugs.
RUSSELL DEAN has been with us for two and a half years. "The most important thing you can bring to the job" says Russell, who lists gym, kick-boxing and playing the guitar amongst his interests, "is patience."
"The most common problem I have to deal with is complaints from people about discoloured water. Someone once asked me how the pH level of the water would affect the plumage on her parrot. I said I felt sure that it would not harm the bird but that I would double check with one of our water scientists and get back to her " which I did.
"No two days are the same in this job, let alone two calls. Ultimately the job is about helping people " something I enjoy doing."
CLAIRE MOATES brings eight years of experience in other sections of South West Water to the job where she is a Team Manager and very much a people person.
Along with other Team Managers and the Service Delivery Manager, she manages the day-to-day running of the centre and is personally responsible for a team of 28 call advisors.
"I am a member of a local swimming club and swim there three times a week," Claire told us, "and I enjoy socialising at the weekends."
What she likes most about the job she says is the fast pace of the call centre. "It's never boring! In fact the hardest part of the job is fitting everything into the day. Like everyone else, I do a better job if I try never to take things personally."
The most frequently encountered problem by her team is having to deal with calls when they know there is a queue of calls building.
Unlike a doctor's appointment, there is no such thing as a recommended fixed amount of time for a call. "Customers are individuals," Claire said, "and each enquiry takes the time that it does if it is to be handled competently and politely."
What does she look for from her team, we asked her? "Patience, excellent customer service skills and a positive attitude."
ROB HART has a degree in Ancient History and has been part of the team for seven months. He likes the variety but says, "The hardest part is having to try to explain company policy to an irate customer."
Rob, who is a surfer and another of the team's guitar players says, "While on the phone I constantly bear in mind how much I hate calling call centres myself. Patience is vital, but it is equally important actually listening to the customer's problems. Sometimes people ring up angry about their bill before the penny drops, and we both realise simultaneously that they're actually complaining about another utility bill.
"When that happens I still ask them politely whether there is anything about their water bill we can help them with."