By Gail Bailey, Head of Customer Experience
Supporting clients from home
We have 40 customer agents who support our UK transfer agency (TA) clients and their customers every day.
These agents are at the heart of our Fund Solutions business. They act as the critical link and face of our brand for our clients’ advisers, customers and retail investors – often as their first point of contact.
This means they require excellent people skills as expert communicators, quick-thinkers and problem-solvers.
Contact centres need to rely on state-of-the-art technology and IT systems. With hundreds of callers each day, our agents can trust that our systems will triage and connect our clients and their customers to get them where they need to be.
Our contact centres are office-based so we can use the best cutting-edge technology. So what happens when a global pandemic means almost everyone in their team has to work from home?
Three of our agents: Danielle, Samiya and Chris
We spoke to Danielle Johnson, Samiya Hussein and Chris Tate to understand how they have dealt with the last 18 months of lockdown and what they’re looking forward to most as the world starts to re-open.
‘What attracted you to the role of customer agent?’
After college I worked in a call centre where my customer engagement skills were really honed. But I’ve always been interested in finance, so when the opportunity came to apply for this role I jumped at the chance.
A key factor was the support for career progression, including the opportunity to take the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) exams.
As the first point of contact and face of our clients’ brand, we can find ourselves talking to experienced investors or advisers, so we must talk confidently about their world, help solve their problems and answer their questions.
I’m a people person, so it piqued my interest to see how this role includes training and coaching other agents.
I get to meet new people, and help them grow and develop skills for their current role, future career and day-to-day lives.
We hire people from all backgrounds, ages and experience, so every day brings a fresh challenge and a unique reward.
I really appreciated the chance to develop my financial services knowledge too, including the IOC exams.
I wanted a fresh challenge and felt that my skillset was a perfect fit for the demands of the role.
I had a good understanding of financial services when I joined Link Group, having worked in a customer services role at both HSBC and Barclays.
But the agent role is a step up in terms of complexity. After the four-week training programme I was ready to speak to and help investors, but one of the great things about this role is the amount of support on offer. So it’s easy to ask questions and double check anything.
I’ve always been interested in financial services, plus I’m passionate about helping connect people to their hard-earned money while giving them the great customer service they deserve. The role ticked all these boxes for me.
‘How have you found working in lockdown?’
I started in February 2019 so I’m lucky that I had time in the office before the shift to remote working. The transition was smooth and we were quickly prepared to work from home to support our clients. Overall, I’ve found remote working has worked really well.
We’ve had a few new people start during lockdown, so I’ve assisted in training and onboarding some of them. It’s a challenge to miss out on face time in with everyone, but we’ve worked hard as a team to make the process as seamless and welcoming as possible. I’m excited to get back to our wonderful new Leeds office though!
One of the things I love about my job is the people. I’ve been here since 2019 so I have good relationships with my colleagues and the advisers that we speak with regularly. This has made remote working a lot easier.
I started right as the pandemic hit in April 2020, so it’s all I’ve known in this role.
But I was impressed with how quickly everyone adapted to the new work situation. My role involves coaching and supporting existing staff plus new team members, so I have a responsibility to enhance the new skills that our agents needed to help callers remotely.
To learn these, I spent some ‘hands-on’ time taking calls from investors and shadowing other agents to make sure I had a grip on their challenges and demands.
Also, as someone with a hidden disability, I’ve been in a fortunate position to help other colleagues talk about their own challenges. It can be a difficult discussion to start, but in lockdown it’s been especially important to feel supported by colleagues. We’ve built up a strong support network over the last year and I’m incredibly proud of that.
My role is people-focused, so I feel lucky to have had constant human interaction throughout 2020 and into 2021. But remote working has had its challenges, especially onboarding during lockdown.
But we have a great tech infrastructure which has made it smoother – like the system that makes it straight-forward to see which of the team is available for support when it’s needed. Getting to know new colleagues remotely isn’t the same, but my customer services experience has helped build relationships internally and with customers!
I’m not alone in being a new starter during lockdown. I’ve now been at Link Group for a year, so I can give new joiners a helping hand – which I find hugely rewarding.
‘What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?’
I’m a social person so restrictions due to COVID-19 have been tough. I’ve only been to the office a few times to conduct face-to-face training of other people, which reminded me that I miss it. I’m looking forward to going back– but also counting down until I can go on holiday again!
I think a lot of us that work in this job are social creatures. I’m most excited about eating in restaurants again with my friends.
Seeing friends and being able to go to restaurants. I can’t wait!
Get in touch if you have any questions about our customer service agents and Transfer Agency.