Meet Iqra, our Head of Customer Service here at HomeHero as she talks about the value of insight, power napping and staying connected.
My first real experience of the value of customer service was whilst I was working at a pharmacy alongside studying. I discovered that customer service was at the heart of the business, it had such a tangible impact on our customers, and most significantly, on their health and wellbeing. This is what sparked my interest, and career, in Customer Service.
I’ve seen so many startups not prioritise their customer service functions, allowing other aspects of the business to expand first, this is such a mistake. Customer service should be at the core of every business offering a service or product.
The sense of culture at HomeHero is so strong, even when onboarding remotely, as I did. From day one there was such a strong sense of community, which I think is so important for an early stage business to thrive. Working with a global team of 35, staying connected and motivated remotely is a constant endeavour and admittedly not something we’ve perfected. I really believe that what matters most are the small things.
In an office environment the chit chat about new Netflix shows, the weather and commutes are so valuable in building connections across a team. What I’m working to implement at HomeHero, and encouraging my team to do, is to take 10 minutes to grab a coffee and catch up. Staying connected is the key, it’s the small things that keep us together.
I’m such a believer that driving relationships on a personal level allows us to build strong working relationships. Understanding our teams different cultures, personalities and work styles leads to a more effective professional relationship. And subsequently, a successful team. This is especially important for a global Customer Service team like here at HomeHero, with 19 of our Heroes working from The Philippines. Not becoming robotic is so important, and taking 5 minutes for human interaction on a people level is absolutely essential.
The world of customer service can be fast paced and demanding, especially in such a fast moving startup environment. When I first started working from home I was spending 16 hours a day in front of a screen. I didn’t feel like myself. Then I discovered power naps. On days with lots of intense meetings, I take a 15 minute power nap every 4 hours. It’s like waking up again, you’re full of ideas and renewed motivation. It’s completely changed the way I work and manage my workload.
Switching off amidst a pandemic is hard, it’s really hard. With the lines between home and work more blurred than ever it’s so important to take a moment to step back. Managing workloads and finding processes that work for you are the key to bringing the best of yourself to work. I’m really excited for the world to start opening up, so I can appreciate the things that we’ve been taking for granted. I’ve always found cultural events the best way to switch off. Having a global team here at HomeHero has really encouraged me to learn more about different cultures. Even without travel, there’s so much to experience in London.
The Foundations of Customer Service
There are so many different strands that come together to provide outstanding customer service, but for me, there are 3 aspects that lie at the very core. Firstly, the team has to feel empowered. If there’s a process in place that they don’t believe in, then they won’t deliver. Empowering the team to challenge and shape processes is so important, and often the driver of success. You need to be invested to deliver.
Secondly, everyone needs a voice – the team and the customers. Taking on feedback from customers is so important, especially as a startup. Whether we decide to implement the feedback or not doesn’t matter, it’s the acknowledgement and gratuity that’s so important. Customers need a voice. Opening up the feedback loop is invaluable for a startup like HomeHero with ambitious plans for growth. Staying humble is really important, and often overlooked.
Finally, attitude. I’d choose attitude over skills every time. I can train anyone up with the right skills, but what you can’t train is the right attitude. Carrying this across to the people function is key to building a great team and something I’m very proud of at HomeHero, our people.
The power of insight
HomeHero really respects the importance of opening up a feedback loop and the value of customer insight. It’s a driving factor for our growth. One of the reasons I love working for HomeHero is that we’re very critical of what we do. I’ve experienced other startups where the team are defensive of their work, which leads to a real lack of vision and open mindedness. Not just within customer service, but across the whole business. Taking criticism is essential for a startup to flourish. For a tech startup to be so humble is a surprisingly unique industry trait.
Drawing inspiration From others
I find so much inspiration in leadership talks. Delving into the complex issues and finding a link to my work and the role of customer service in a business fascinates me. I challenge myself to listen to a broad variety of thought leaders, but I love both Eric Thomas and Steven Bartlett. The role of customer service is different in every company, but I think what’s interesting is that we always have a responsibility to service anyone that works for us. Maintaining that is so important.
I’ve previously worked in regulated industries, where the scope of customer service is dictated by commissioning bodies. So until joining HomeHero last year I haven’t stepped out. I’ve always felt my hands were tied. Applying these abstract models to customer service at HomeHero is really exciting. Independence fosters creativity and innovation.
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