Interserve FM Archive

22 October 2020

Customer Operations team delivers excellent service during COVID-19

A rapid response to constantly changing circumstances and invaluable local knowledge are key reasons that Interserve’s Customer Operations team has maintained its excellent service delivery to colleagues and clients during the coronavirus crisis.

The company’s Customer Operations team operates from three sites across the UK and includes more than 200 colleagues who deliver services including helpdesk and payroll to 53,500 colleagues and more than 52 clients in the UK and Europe.

The team usually receives between 97,000 and 107,000 calls per month from colleagues and clients, but during the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic this leapt by a third. Queries ranged from electrical faults to pay queries to general FM management issues.

The business continuity plan the team had put in place when COVID-19 began to spread in early 2020, meant team members could stay safe by working from home, ensuring service delivery was uninterrupted and the extra demand met.

Darron Burness, Head of Customer Operations in Birmingham, leads a team of 130 colleagues who ordinarily are based at the company’s Ingenuity House HQ.

He said: “It’s not just a helpline or a service centre we are running, we are really trying to personalise the approach we take with a client or a colleague and it is our expertise and flexibility that allows us to do this. “Our structure enables us to respond very quickly whatever new challenge presents. We run a Covid helpline for the business and when someone needs a test, we help them book a test because we can give that support to individuals. We can stand-up helpdesks overnight. We can share news with stakeholders in real-time.

“Local knowledge, such as knowing that Wales is in lockdown so people can’t leave Wales and the issues that this causes, means we can adapt and offer appropriate support to particular circumstances.

“It’s not just about answering the phone - it’s about resolving the problem.”

During the COVID-19 outbreak in March, Interserve’s Manchester team led on supporting the mobilisation of the FM contract at the North West Nightingale NHS Trust; the Washington team supported 10,000 frontline personnel across the business; and the Birmingham team delivered customer operations both internally and externally to key contracts, including including Alder Hey and Hertfordshire hospitals, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the BBC, and public utility company E.ON.

It is Interserve’s ability to respond rapidly to changing circumstances that has set it apart from so many other call centre operators at this time. Thanks to being based in the UK, it has a strong understanding of clients’ requirements and the challenges they are facing, while operating 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week means it can offer constant, real-time support to colleagues and clients.

Stephanie Johnston, Managing Director of Service Operations, said: “Being located where our customers and colleagues are here in the UK meant that we could provide a high standard of service that addressed the exact challenges and issues they faced.

“We understood what they were experiencing and could respond to guidance from the UK Government immediately. This gave us a massive advantage compared to call centres operated abroad where call handlers are reading from scripts.” Since March the Customer Operations team has mobilised or delivered:

an information hotline providing COVID-19 advice to our colleagues a testing support line to help Interserve colleagues providing FM to critical services to get COVID-19 tests a COVID-19 case reporting system, whereby colleagues could report cases within their teams and to help manage risk planning expertise to support Interserve’s Emergency redeployment plans, identifying and matching people who were available and their skills to areas that needed additional support during the peak segregating teams into pods in different geographic locations to build resilience so that if some were infected then other pods can pick up the strain remote training, coaching, recruitment, onboarding and people management initiatives 53 laptops, 41 laptop chargers, 28 mobile phones and 88 headsets to colleagues across the UK to enable the Customer Operations team to work remotely.

Tracy Cunningham, Head of Resource Planning & Governance, said: “There is no doubt that the team’s agility, expertise and experience sets us apart from other providers and is a huge advantage to our service delivery.”

Notes to editors

Interserve Facilities Management was a part of the Interserve Group and was acquired by Mitie on 30 November 2020.