Can you tell us a bit about your career so far and how you arrived in your current role?
I joined the AA back in 1991 starting as an apprentice (25 years ago). Over the years I carried out many outdoor operational roles, from Patrol to Patrol team manager, managing the AA’s response to severe weather and summer events.
Following on from this I was asked to manage the AA’s Home Working operation (known to us as Teleworkers). The good thing with Teleworking is it’s just like managing a team of Patrols, the only difference is you know where a Teleworker will be.
Tell us about (Your Company) and what the company does
The AA is the UK’s largest motoring organisation, with more dedicated roadside patrols than anyone else. As well as being the UK’s favourite breakdown service, the AA also provides car, home, travel and other insurance; personal financial services including loans, savings and credit cards and a range of motoring services. The AA is also the largest independent travel publisher in the UK and additionally provides driver training through the AA Driving School; British School of Motoring (BSM) and AA DriveTech for commercial drivers.
What has been the company’s greatest success?
As one of Britain’s oldest and most trusted brands, the AA has a long history of innovation since its conception in 1905, with a multitude of success stories along the way. In our contact centres, the AA is a pioneer in the field of home working, having started a pilot scheme in Leeds 20 years ago. This has grown into a successful home operations team and the AA now employs 200 home workers across Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Leicestershire and the West Midlands (with new recruits being added) for emergency breakdown call handling and offering technical advice to members. Last month, we won the title ‘Home Agent Operation of the Year’ at the UK Contact Centre’s annual awards.
What does the future hold for (Your Company)?
We will continue to innovate and campaign on behalf of the motorist. In addition to piloting our advanced ‘connected car’ technology, we are launching initiatives to increase the number of charging points for electric vehicles on the UK’s road network, among other upcoming developments across the business.
How has the contact centre industry changed since you’ve been involved in it?
As a relative newbie to the industry, it is clear that working smarter with digital options to contact a company is key to shaping future call centres.
However, one thing companies need to ensure is that they move into this area at the same speed that customers are ready to; leaving customers behind and implementing digital too quickly will bring its own issues.
What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by the industry today?
From a home working perspective, it is really exciting that so many companies are looking into remote workers, not only will it deliver excellent financial reductions, it also works for the company and individual from an engagement point of view.
What does the future hold for the industry?
Great question, Digital contact for sure, however I would expect for calls to get routed to call centres where a complex query is not able to be delivered by digital means.
Which companies do you admire and why?
Argos and Amazon for sure, both have delivered excellent digital options for customers with support from many channels.
However after 25 years with the AA, I’m proud to tell others what I do.
If there were one piece of advice you could give to contact centre professionals reading this, what would it be?
Work with other likeminded professionals, attending seminars with the UKCCF on home agent topics is a great way of finding out what others have done and what lessons they have learnt.
What do you do for fun?
Jump in rivers keeping my swift water rescue qualification up (training from when I looked after severe weather for the AA).
This certainly keeps you awake and on top of what’s going on around you.