Heading up an award-winning customer service team which handles up to 4000 calls a month, no two days are ever the same for Eugene Gilloway.
What led you into a career in customer service?
I love talking and communicating with people from different walks of life. Six years ago 2014, I relocated to Liverpool from Ireland and I saw an office based role for Billington Bioenergy (which was acquired by AMP Clean Energy in October 2016). Since 2018 I’ve been heading up the customer contact centre and enjoying every minute.
Have you always been interested in working within the clean energy field?
I have always been interested in working in energy. Therefore, working within a sustainable energy company, that is so heavily driven to help its customers to make cost and carbon savings, was a bonus. When I started my career, renewable energy, including biomass, wasn’t as fully established as it is today. However, as time has progressed the importance of reducing our carbon emissions has grown significantly and developed into the net zero agenda today.
In terms of customer service, how does AMP Clean Energy try to set itself apart from its competitors?
Customer service is very important to AMP Clean Energy. As we’ve grown very quickly as a business, largely through acquisitions, the business recognised the need to prioritise customer experience. We established a team dedicated to customer service in the Liverpool office, so that there was a central point of contact for customers. The best practice procedures and processes were implemented from scratch and put in place to maximise the overall customer experience. We invest time into ensuring that everyone in the team is equipped with the right knowledge about all our biomass heat services and other low carbon energy offerings so that they can help customers when they call us.
As a business we have invested significantly in improving our end to end customer experience, from when a customer rings up to place an order, right the way through to delivery of the fuel. This includes route optimisation software and Paragon’s fleXipod e-POD automated delivery system which keeps customers informed every step of the ordering and delivery process.
At AMP Clean Energy, we not only install, but maintain and monitor the fuel consumption as we know how crucial the supply of fuel can be for businesses. By pre-planning the fuel delivery based on usage, our customers can be rest assured that we have their heating needs covered. For those on Fuel Supply Agreements, there is also a 5 working day lead time guarantee for deliveries.
What targets have you set in relation to handling customer calls?
We have monthly targets, one of those is to answer the phone within ten seconds of the caller ringing. This includes the time it takes for the caller to choose an option on the automated system where they want their call to be directed. On average, over the past two years, we have been taking calls in under nine seconds. We have also been successful in keeping the ‘abandoned rate’ under 5% – this is when the customer hangs up before we answer the call. We are therefore consistently meeting our targets.
I’ve never set a target on call duration because it is more important you deal with each and every call appropriately. The calls can be from 3 to 30 minutes; however, each call is different – that’s the exciting nature of the job!
We all know customer call centres can be frustrating at times, how do you ensure AMP Clean Energy customers have a positive experience?
Our key commitment is to satisfy the need that brought the customer to call in the first place. The customer service improvements that were put in place over the last two years have massively improved our customer service, so much so that last year we won the REA Award for Best Customer Services last year. This ensures our customers receive personalised updates about their deliveries, improving the overall customer experience and helping us manage the customer journey efficiently.
I still often take calls myself. Some customers have been calling me for a number of years and they continue to want to speak to me, which I’m very happy to do. We also receive feedback from customers on our services, and we listen to this and make any necessary adjustments.
What are some of the greatest challenges within your role?
As a team, we find our biggest challenge is overcoming external factors where there may be scenarios that are completely out of our control. Biomass fuel is a commodity, so these things happen, but it’s about how you overcome the challenges for the customers that matters. The Beast from the East in 2018, which led to a major wood pellet shortage, was a good example of this.
When situations arise out of our control, we are always fully transparent with our customers throughout the process and do what we can to resolve the issue. We often liaise closely with our transport services team, in order to exhaust all avenues and ensure our customers will never be without heating or hot water, despite the obstacles taken to get there.
When things go wrong, we adapt.
What’s the most interesting part of your role?
There is no ‘typical’ day, every day is different, and I love that. I enjoy talking with different individuals about different scenarios. I had one the other day when a driver called to say he had to abandon delivery into a fuel store as when he connected the hose up, he unearthed a wasp nest! This is situation you need to respond to quickly – in this case ensuring the customer was sent bagged wood pellet – until we could safely reattempt delivery.
How has COVID-19 affected the customer contact team?
Luckily, there has been no impact on the supply chain and so from the customers perspective there hasn’t been any change in the delivery service.
The team has been home based so all calls are currently diverted to mobiles. That has meant that we have not been sat together so I have not been able to pick up on any issues as they arise. To help adjust to that, we have implemented a daily call to discuss what has happened that day and for team members to flag anything they need to let me know about.
I’ve actually been in the office most of the time as I personally feel that I am more productive in an office environment. Obviously, we’ve followed all the Government guidelines to ensure it has been a safe environment. I’m hopeful the team can all return to the office soon and we can get back to business as usual. There’s nothing like the buzz of the phones ringing, the team taking orders, talking with customers and ensuring they are happy!
What has been your career highlight?
The REA Customer Service Recognition award we received in 2019 was a great team achievement. This recognised the improvements we had made to customer service and how our funding model helps remove barriers to low carbon energy for many organisations.
What are your professional aspirations for the future?
Going forward, I hope to see myself continuing to manage the team and provide support and improvements to the overall customer experience. I hope we can expand my team, which would also suggest a growing customer base.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
I love football and I’m a keen Liverpool FC supporter. I was lucky enough to play at a decent standard when I was younger, participating in the Irish Premier League and Championship, I finished playing when I was about 29. I enjoy watching all sports and that helps me relax. Of an evening, to unwind I like to take my Mini Yorkshire Terrier, Sparky, out for a walk as I find it helps clear my head ready for the next day.