Marion is a natural leader and brings a unique outlook and approach to the work she does. She is passionate about supporting her industry, the professionals within it and the customers they serve.
Marion brings a unique blend of skills, strengths and insights to her many roles and responsibilities within the industry.
This unique perspective, combined with her passion for mentoring and creating opportunities for others in her industry to thrive, led to her launching a virtual summit for Women In Surveying in 2018. She also delivers training on well-being and confidence for Lionheart, the charity for RICS professionals.
Marion is also Managing Director of BlueBox Partners, a firm of chartered surveyors in the business of providing support, training and resources most relevant to residential surveyors and valuers, whatever stage of their career.
With 20 years’ experience in the residential property sector, and having qualified as a chartered surveyor in 2004, she understands the challenges those in her profession face.
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Episode 28 – Marion Ellis – 02-04-2019.mp3
Tony Winyard [00:00:00] Exceeding expectations episode 28. Welcome to exceeding expectations. The show where our guests give you ideas on how you can give a better experience to your customers and you may hear someone from a very different industry and they talk about something that is very different to what you do but maybe with some tweaks you can make it work in what it is that you do. Today’s guest is Marion Ellis. And if you ever bought a house or especially if you’ve remortgaged; I think the whole surveying process; She’s a surveyor, that’s her background; it’s something we give very little thought to, and we just want the survey to come back as quickly as possible with the figure that we need to get that remortgage or whatever it might be, and we don’t really give much thought to what’s actually involved somehow. Or maybe it’s just me?
Tony Winyard [00:00:57] So Marion is going to tell us about The Complaint Handling awards and how she trains new surveyors and and get them to think about things from the consumer point of view. So that’s this week’s episode with Marion Ellis.
Tony Winyard [00:01:16] Here we are for another edition of exceeding expectations. And my guest today is Marion Ellis. How are you Marion?
Marion Ellis [00:01:24] I’m great thank you. How are you Tony?
Tony Winyard [00:01:26] I’m very well thank you. So we were just having a brief chat before we started recording and you were telling me a few things about yourself and one of the things I found quite interesting, you told me you recently judged the UK Complaint Handling awards.
Marion Ellis [00:01:45] Yes I know. Can you believe that there’s an award for good complaint handling. It’s the first time that I’ve done it. I’ve judged at the UK customer experience awards a couple of times and they asked me if I was interested in doing the complaint awards. My background is in complaints and claims so it was quite interesting to give it a go. And the thing about these awards and being a judge is that it really is a great opportunity to get out of your industry. It always fascinates me what people do for a living and the different things that they come up with the solutions the challenges that they face. But you know what some of them are very similar to the industry that you might be in. So I’ve actually learnt an awful lot out of doing it. I note it down as a CPD, but I have a lot of fun doing them. The complaints awards this time it was the first time for me and it was great because I think my category was most improved complaints handling and it was a small category. Variety of different people, businesses, small large you know what’s great about some of these is that you do get the independents going it’s not just all about the big corporates. But yes it is fascinating to see the challenges that people face and then how they address them and why I always love about the most is just the passion that comes through. Some people say you know things aren’t great sometimes but this is what we do about it and this is how we’re going to stop it happening in the future. And for me it sort of puts a real human touch behind the people who deal with complaints and claims. For many years. I actually didn’t tell people what I did for a living. I used to just say it was an in an office as office manager and that was because it was a bit difficult to explain to people because I’m a chartered surveyor. I work in the residential valuation sector. So your home buyers, building surveys, mortgage valuations, that kind of surveyor. And then about 10 or so years ago I moved to a central head office role to do audits and they had a complaints team of three and they said oh would you mind helping out. I then took that on and it was great for me as a surveyor. Before I became a surveyor I’d actually worked in call centres like BT, British Gas, that kind of thing. So I wasn’t afraid to talk someone on the phone. Whereas a lot of surveyors or technical people are some times. So it’s a natural thing for me to do and that I then you know it’s all to do with you know queries dissatisfaction to actually large negligence defects and valuation claims. So a really interesting thing for me to involve in. But explaining to somebody what I did, they would always say “are you a quantity surveyor?” No I’m not I’m a different type of surveyor and then have to explain that and then they’d say; “Well what’s happened with the housing market? Should I buy or sell?” And you never want to be asked that as a surveyor, so you resist, cos if you give your opinion they challenge you on it. And then went on to say I dealt with complaints and claims, they would normally say “wow your job must be horrible being shouted out all day!” And it wasn’t at all. You know when you’re dealing with that kind of problem it’s very emotive. Yes you have to have a lot of empathy, but you have to be really really cool, you know you have to really have that distance where you can show empathy that you understand. But you know there’s a problem to be solved here and this isn’t just you know someone with a faulty product or poor service gone wrong this is people’s homes it’s their lives and that’s big stuff. So really that’s where my customer experience journey started because I had this huge team which I grew, to deal with all the complaints and claims and I realised that actually complaint numbers were going down. But I was still you know in terms of what we would be defending, but I was still getting lots of queries in and dissatisfactions and things. And so I started to look at well why are they coming to us? Are we batting them away or defending them or it’s not a complaint as we would see it. Why are they still coming to us? And that took me on a journey of customer experience, of making sure people have the information that they need to make the decisions that they need to make. That the reports that we used to provide were useful and people knew what to do with it. But then you were in a company. One of the simplest things that people can do is a welcome, welcome to our business. This is who we are and what we’re going to do. I know you’ve bought a product from us but let me tell you again welcome; and open up that opportunity so people can talk. And then just a real thank you for your business at the end. Thank you for spending that time with us not just money. Thank you for that. And I started to see a real difference in the kind of complaints that I would get in. You know yes mistakes happen sometimes but they were what I would call cleaner complaints. You know they were more straightforward. They weren’t “and you did this, and there was a typo and somebody didn’t call and…” Et cetera. You know people don’t complain about just one thing, when they get very annoyed they then get it all off their chest to the list of 28 different things. And we were able to really clear that out, what that meant then was when we dealt with complaints. Yes it was cleaner it was easier to understand what the challenges were what the problems were how to resolve it. But you already had the expectation of a good service rather than you know a very angry negative customer. So it’s been an interesting journey for me and the team that I had at the time so initially I had I think at one point it was a team of 40. Believe it or not you know, some abroad as well. And we changed that around. So that actually half the team were dealing with the problems and half the team were being really proactive saying talk to us talk to us. What is it you don’t know. What can we help you with.
Marion Ellis [00:08:17] And through that we really refined some of our internal processes. So so I left the corporate role just over a year ago now. And that’s taking on a different journey to get involved in all sorts of other stuff. But yeah I’d recommend anybody going to have a go at judging. You have to do a bit of work, it’s not just sitting there all day. No it’s a bit of prep work. We have to review people’s submissions but it’s a real insight to the way that other businesses and other people in other industries tackle some of the challenges that they’ve faced and yeah I love it.
Tony Winyard [00:08:57] When you were talking about the sort of complaints that were coming in, what type of thing was it coming in and who was it you were feeding back to?
Marion Ellis [00:09:05] So I worked for a large corporate firm of surveyors. I started my professional career as a surveyor down in Croydon. I’d inspect lots of properties for house purchase re mortgage for banks and house buyers. And the kind of problems that you then have are people who bought property and you’ve moved in and on day one.,something doesn’t work. Somethings collapsed. There’s a problem and you would then be contacted to say. Oh my goodness what’s gone on. So it’s that kind of thing. But there was a whole range of things from on the remortgage side where you know a surveyor would value the property and the Daily Mail the next day would say “house prices have gone up 10%”; then you get a phone call to say well the Daily Mail says that house prices have gone up. Therefore my house should be valued more. You know so people with expectations of property value and what things are worth. You might get you know things like conduct. The surveyor didn’t talk to me. He didn’t tell me what my house was worth. Well he can’t because you’re not the client. The bank is. So you’re explaining some of that. There’d be defects that would go wrong and typically they would be either when someone’s just moved in and when the vendor is moved or their property out, you know furniture and things out you then discover things that we couldn’t have seen, or sometimes a couple of months in when people start decorating and they strip the wallpaper off and they see cracks or whatever. So they would stagger in. But then you get things like valuation claims and that’s typically where say property has been repossessed and the bank would then come to you as a surveyor to say well you know we’ve had to repossess the property. Now we look at it we think you overvalued, and those are fortunately few and far between now. But you know in 2007/08/09/10. The surveying industry, the property industry with the housing market crash. Those were dark dark days for surveyors and we used to get what they call confetti letters where solicitors would send you a notification of a claim. Just in case, we might see you in the future, we think there’s a problem. And they came in their hundreds and thousands and they were horrible times. A lot of them were defended. A lot of surveyors were able to sort of negotiate those claims and the practices that we had in the industry back then were lax. Record keeping wasn’t great, technology wasn’t what it is now. Ten years on things are much much better. There’s a much more robust way of recording your notes understanding how what the survey did. Their opinion and all of that really helps then when you go to defend a claim or to investigate a claim there’s nothing better than picking up a file with all the notes that you need. So at least you can, whether you defend it or not you can at least understand what’s gone on. So the industry has moved on quite a bit.
[00:12:26] There’s many different types of surveys and from what I understand there’s quite a misunderstanding in the general public about the differences between all of them?
Marion Ellis [00:12:36] Oh gosh there is and we don’t help ourselves at all. And as it happens at the moment the RICS, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are looking at reviewing their home surveys offerings and how they expect surveyors to provide those services so The RCIS has their own license products which is the homebuyers survey, and a building survey which most people will be familiar with and they are effectively templates for surveys to use. But what they also say is Well so long as you meet these standards and you carry out an inspection to these levels, one, two, three, you can do whatever colour paper you want whatever whistles and bells, so long as they meet these standards and that makes it really confusing for a consumer to know if they’re comparing like with like when they compare services with a surveyor.
Marion Ellis [00:13:30] And what’s interesting right now at the moment is that The RCIS are reviewing it and you’ve got you know I can think of five or six different products and services out there that are being tested and trialed in the market. Big lenders, just the bigger surveying panel firms, estate agents, starting to work on some, and there’s everything from a seventeen point checklist on your home to a report that’s full of photos you know that they’re really trying to push the boundaries as to well what does a report look like for a consumer now buying a property.
Marion Ellis [00:14:12] And when I was dealing with all of the claims and all of the problems that’s the kind of thing that I then looked at. Well we’ve given you this report. But why didn’t you use it? Why didn’t you get the advice that you needed? Because we said in the report you need to get this checked or speak to an engineer. Why didn’t that happen? And what we discovered is that the reports that we send out, on the whole they are great but some of them are full of caveats. Very defensive reporting because we’ve got this background of being sued it all stops with the surveyor. The reports are very very text heavy, jargon heavy, you know the reading age in the UK is eleven! The reading age in the UK is 11 and that will get you through a Harry Potter book; doesn’t necessarily mean that you might be able to spell Voldemort or understand some complex parts of the story but you’ll get the gist, and what I discovered was that we were sending out sometimes really helpful reports but people weren’t using them. They didn’t know how to digest them. When you get something sent through the Post or on e-mail we all skip through when you want to get to the juicy parts it tells you what’s wrong. And so there for me, we were giving great advice and even now as I look at the different report types about there is still some great stuff in there. But it’s refining it to make sure that it lands with that individual. So I started to look at what do different report types look like. You know do we need to do more of a magazine feel rather than sort of this text heavy? Do we need to talk to customers more to make sure that they understand? And what we have in the industry really is this approach of being consistent. We have to consistently do our reports all of the same all the same. But what we fail to recognize is that individuals are all different. So our service should recognize that consumers are consistently different. Yeah. So we need to marry the two. And there are lots of different ways that we can start to address that.
Tony Winyard [00:16:34] So from what you were just saying; about 10 years ago when there was all the bank collapses and the pressure surveyors were having then. How has it changed from that period to now? What is different about what a surveyor does and what a consumer receives?
Marion Ellis [00:16:52] So the main differences are the use of technology and I suppose standardizing what a surveyor does. So most surveyors will use software. Most people have heard of right move the Web sites will they have a surveyors comparable to the all the surveys largely used to find the best comparable evidence and record it. So that mean that’s never been tested in court yet as far as I’m aware. But it’s so much better than it used to be. You know we used to have a piece of paper and highlight pan and say these three are the same. You know and from our from our knowledge so the so the the the quality of that is is much better in terms of what a surveyor does actually ice on site. There are different tools and things that have been used so you’ll see things like drones or 360 cameras or those sort of heat cameras sensors.
Marion Ellis [00:17:53] There’s lots of different yeah there’s apps even that can help you work out levels. So there’s a lots of different things that surveyor can use but it comes back down to a what would a reasonable surveyor do you know. Is it reasonable now for a surveyor to scour the Internet for what’s going on in a local area. In the past you might just looked at the new local newspaper and said Is there a new housing development in the back. You know we might have sort of contacted the local planning office or whatever but is it reasonable now to two to go that far and that some of the challenges that the that the industry has but there’s a lot that we know about property now compared to 10 20 years ago and we know that from the likes of things like insurance claims you know on subsidence and some of the big insurance companies subsidence you know they know all the postcodes whether it’s whether it’s clay soil it’s more likely or the flooding areas. And so in many ways if we know that information before then a surveyor should have or conveyance or even should have all of that information up friends. And 20 years ago I did my dissertation it’s on a floppy disk somewhere in my loft and I keep on threatening to go find it although on that never failed to get the information off because I don’t think anyone uses floppy disks anymore all right did my dissertation on the home information pack which is a government initiative to have this cellars pack so had everything ready before you sell the house and it didn’t happen for lots of different reasons. Something similar actually happened in Scotland and they’ve got the the Home report and single survey it then that works well it’s established that in England Wales we didn’t and as I look at it now 20 years on with the technologies that we’ve got with what we know about are our properties and the landscape and how things lie. There’s no reason why we can’t have something like that now and that actually helps people there. There are lots of things you know there are there properties out there now that if the banks hooked up with the estate agents and run it through an online system with data that we’ve got it could be mortgage ready and pre-approved in principle as it was put on the market so you don’t then have to put it on the market then the buyer then has to go and get the mortgage valuation later.
Marion Ellis [00:20:22] You know and it sort of takes time. It could all be pre-approved. I mean yes it means you need to check in it get me wrong but there’s a lot of upfront stuff that we that we can do.
Marion Ellis [00:20:34] And so I’m doing some work with a home buying and selling group which is actually looking at how we bring the industry together because what we do is we work in silo. We work on our own. So surveyors have they inspect property once we’ve put this challenge with you know our reporting which is starting to be addressed and then things will change but we don’t always talk to you know the estate agents or the conveyances you know or any or anybody else.
Marion Ellis [00:21:04] And similarly conveyances do their thing and they what they will do is they’ll they’ll get something will flag up and they’ll get a report and it’ll go to the bank and then go to the surveyor he says is you know this is a problem in your opinion when the surveyor says I don’t know it’s in black and white. It’s not color you know they send back and typically this is environmental reports. You know it’s in a flooding area. Does this affect your valuation is it okay. And a surveyor can’t say it’s okay unless it’s outside of the lenders guidance and criteria that you know but they can say well it wasn’t flooding when I was there you know or they can consider sort of the impact but they can’t say yes you should buy it. No you shouldn’t. And so across the industry from from the banks who have the technology to do things much much better and drive actually a lot of the house buying industry with with their demands from conveyances who really need to apply their skills in terms of technology particularly these smaller firms that work better together surveyors who in my view aren’t always very customer friendly. You know that they’re great people inspecting property they’re not all great at talking to customers and understanding what what a customer needs. You know you’ve got state agents who let’s face it actually get quite a lot of stake and some of them aren’t great. But you know what there are some brilliant estate agents out there and they recognize that people people want to move home. They don’t want to go through a process you know and there’s some great estate agents out there and then you’ve got people like you know removal firms at the tail end who who are part of that home buying process and journey. And I was talking to somebody who will die recently and he was telling me about how he had spent three hours his customers spent three hours in a car in a car park car park waiting for the chain to complete. So what happens is you know the bottom of the chain will will complete and the money then sort of gets ticked up and passed on. And there was a delay at the first one because the sister was in the meeting and this sort of huge chain of about five or six and this lady was then left sort of sat in the car park is it going to happen today because the of office hours and money transferring a couple of things one the banks could absolutely make that happen with one portion of a push of a button so that all payments made all all that you know collect the chain and make all payments made at the same time so that you don’t you don’t have that delay but there’s a real human cost here for me you know so this lady it was expensive house that she was buying. She sat in their car with her kids for a couple of hours and actually that gives a lot of uncertainty because our homes are safe places. Now I know that there are people who live on the street and who can’t afford homes and the challenges but you know those people who can. Who have scraped up enough money to buy a property you know there is a lot of pressure has a lot of stress. You know whether you’ve got we’ve got the money or not. And to sit in that car park a thing actually. Have I got a home. Am I going to be living in a travel lodge tonight. You know what do I do with all this stuff to write to the removal guys who have traveled to do their job and they don’t get they can’t get home until very late at night in the county and they can see their kids and families all because a semester start of the chain was in a meeting and couldn’t approve some funds. That’s a real human costs across the whole thing not just for people in the people buying houses but also for people in the industry as you were speaking I was wondering are there any that you’re aware of any systems in other countries that work better than what we have. There are pros and cons to them. There’s lots of different models. The fact is I’m actually I was listen to the news just yesterday and the Chancellor was talking about we need to buy. We need to build new homes and we’re releasing some funding to build it. I think it’s 30000 new homes. So we can get to our target. And at the same time there was an article that came out in the Telegraph that talked about there’s a 5 percent increase in the number of empty homes in theU.K. whether people got second homes or that the other vacant for whatever reason. And it’s all we tend to look at quick fixes or we need more houses because there’s you know people are struggling and there’s a limit you know or we should look abroad. You know what they do in Norway or in Denmark or Australia actually use an awful lot of technology but they’re different countries or people are looking for quick fixes and they talk about a broken housing market. And actually it’s not that that’s broken I don’t think it’s just quite disorganized. And the problem with building new homes in my view and I used to work for a developer at one at one stage early on in my career.
Marion Ellis [00:26:33] But the problem with building new homes is that for me it’s a bit like giving sweets to a growing child. Now you’ve got that euphoria of sweets but it tends to be short lived and you get that that sugar rush and you think it’s great. But the fact is you know if you eat too much sugar you get long term health problems. And the problem with new homes is that the quality isn’t really great. Sometimes we’ve got all these issues with the hold and the scandals that you have heard about a high rise buildings which they’re building a lot of and the clotting issues the fire safety issues that we’ve got. So there’s there’s lots of issues it doesn’t really get to the root of the problem which for me is that actually we’ve got process a legacy project process in our country that needs to be improved. But it starts with talking to each other. These industries knew this the surveyors the conveyances estate agents the banks talking to each other to see what can be done to improved that’s for me is the is there is a real key because we’re all concentrating on what we can do to improve our own customer experience and our businesses directly. But we’re not looking either side of us. And from a consumer’s point of view yes they might deal with lots of different professionals but they’re on one long journey and that journey is the most expensive purchase they will probably ever buy. We’ve got to we’ve got to think about that in that in that context.
Tony Winyard [00:28:08] A lot of people especially when people have remortgage in the hole are kind of evaluation side of it is just kind of seen as a hurdle. They just want to get over as quick as possible. And so therefore I wonder if people even look at the evaluation report it comes back.
Marion Ellis [00:28:23] Up. Absolutely right. And there’s a different view from the different banks and building societies as to whether they release a report to the customer or not. And as I understand it that comes from the Financial Conduct Authority the FCA approach that they’ve got an initiative called treating customers fairly. The CCF policy and really its best terms it’s about consistency of service making sure that everybody gets the right advice in the right way consistently the sort of blanket approach. And it’s when it’s done well it’s not a bad thing. But not everybody in that home buying journey as in the businesses and industries are aligned to that or regulated by that and the way that the lenders work is they will take a view as to is it right. Is it fair to the customer to release that report or not. So the bank or bank or lender they are there to lend the money.
Marion Ellis [00:29:30] Then take the view. Well actually we are a building society and we care a bit more on where it’s all about you in your home.
Marion Ellis [00:29:37] And we think it’s right that you should have a copy of the report. So what you find is inconsistency where some banks say we’re only doing the valuation and they’ve had to refine the kind of information that they need for the lending criteria. And Moody’s had a strip it back and say no if you need property advice a valuation is not a survey you need to go and get it. Whereas others sort of go over and above and all the reports are almost as high quality or actually they call it a valuation survey and it’s not a survey it’s a valuation for mortgage lending purposes a survey is something different. And there’s usually direct contracts between the consumer and the survey and not through the bank. So. So that means banks and building societies are really confusing things for the consumers. What’s interesting is that going forward many banks won’t provide the valuation report to the consumer and they won’t provide the valuation figure. Because actually they’ll just say you know you wanted to borrow your remortgaging you wanted to borrow an extra 20000 pounds. Yes it’s approved because that’s all they. That’s all they need to say. So the industry is really changing between those who want to go over and above and be helpful and those that say No actually our Rima is just to borrow money and make sure we’re doing reasonable and sensible lending but we advise and get advice elsewhere and that creates a real opportunity for surveyors to change the way that they work. But they need someone wearing their customer surveyor hats not their value a bank hat on and that’s when they need to start changing the way that they work.
Marion Ellis [00:31:18] And that’s the kind of thing that I’m now really committed to in my current role at Blue Box partners which is a small firm surveys that provides technical training and advice to surveyors and we’re really committed to helping them be better.
Tony Winyard [00:31:33] How do they how do surveys differ so what is it that you can say to the people you’re working with to help them give it better service to the people the consumers they’re working for.
Marion Ellis [00:31:44] Well for us there are a few different ways of looking at the work that surveyor does. So there’s the usual CPD the technical stuff all the really juicy boring stuff that everybody else hates but surveyors love the technical stuff the stuff that they’re really good at but it’s put that into context as to OK. And so here’s a CPD session on Japanese not weed which is all very interesting but what does that mean for you when you report to a consumer and what does the consumer do if there’s Japanese not weed. How can you be more more helpful and separate. We really want to try to put that into context and for the surveyor to feel empowered with this information. But if they understand their customer they can then translate it and use it in the right way. We’re also looking at actually how we help surveyors be better in business that sort of whole small business support from everything from how to have a great LinkedIn profile to you know systems and processes in tech within your business that can help you like any other small small business.
Marion Ellis [00:33:02] We also try and concentrate actually on well-being you know again the stresses of when you work for yourself or for a small business which most of us are blue box are. We’ve got our own businesses and things as well. It’s really hard. It’s really difficult and sometimes you know when you go out for the day. Let’s face it. You know sometimes the weather isn’t great. You know it can be quite a tough job go out. There’s actually quite a physical job sometimes but that whole sort of well-being piece of it is really important for us.
Marion Ellis [00:33:34] And a couple of years ago there was a couple of suicides high profile suicides of surveys in our industry and so mental health awareness is something that we’re with as an industry we’re really keen to raise awareness of. And then the other part really is building relationships and that from experience and that’s where I you. I commend you know if surveyors knew that the average teenage in the UK was eleven they might think differently about how they write their reports. You know we we write all of this content technical content but did you know actually get copywriter to help you you know sort of rephrase some of these things change the language that you use. Interestingly I was at a conference I presented just last week and I talked about how women in the in the UK hold something like 85 percent of the purse of the buying decisions that are made in the UK either they go buy it or they prod you know the other half that the the man to go buyers and checkable of surveys came up to me after said Crikey you know ah I didn’t realise you just you know most of my customers are actually women.
Marion Ellis [00:34:49] The ones I talked to were actually women initially they might talk to the man but it’s women and they’ve got to change their language in terms of understanding the needs of these women and what their priorities are.
Marion Ellis [00:35:02] And just you know the fact is however you look at it men and women are different you know so sometimes just understanding and standing that and then really having that appreciation of the whole home buying and selling journey so that you’re not just whilst you might have relationships with your estate agents or the conveyance or who might refer work and you’ve got the sort of business relationships what does what’s it look like from a consumer’s point of view. You know do you know who their sister is or who the estate agent is you know. Do you know where they are in the trade. What do you know about them. Yeah. Are they a young family with you with young kids and they’ve got certain anxieties.
Marion Ellis [00:35:41] How they bought and sold 10 times before and that they’re not worried you know.
Marion Ellis [00:35:46] But actually that makes them a bit more overconfident. Yeah.
Marion Ellis [00:35:50] Do they understand some of the pressures and things that are going on and on Sunday in the in that context early on in the when we started recording we were talking about a UK complaint hands it well it’s one of the things you mentioned was about the moose. Most Improved category. And I’m baffled by that sir. How would they determine how. So is this some company like all different industries. I mean how do they determine something like that.
Marion Ellis [00:36:16] So yes so that category was all about really how they upped their game in their complaint handling. So there might have been a number of triggers where you know actually you know they got they got complaints from their own regulator say or they realized it was costing them more money on claims than they were in terms of bringing business in the whole sort of raft of things that might cause a trigger. You know I’ve been recruiting lots of staff no more staff to deal with complaints than sales. I don’t know. So so. So there was an issue of the trigger but the in that category they were looking at what we used to do and what worked and what didn’t and what we do now what the initiatives were you know. So it was how they for some of them it was how they communicated to different departments. You know one of them I think had something you know something out on my 11 phone lines to get through to a complaints department or team you know sort of how they how they made a difference to gathering the information. Handling of it’s importantly how they empowered their people. And one of the key things in complaint handling is actually employee experience and empowering people to do the job. And that’s something that I see a lot of in my industry. So when I had a complaints and claims team I realized that there were data with some high value properties. And when I out talked to them about you know well how do you feel this case is going and what do you think we should do is that while some paper.
Marion Ellis [00:37:57] Yeah they could handle it and they were great. Some of these people are never to buy and sell a house themselves you know the that that goes across the whole of the home buying and selling industry. You’ve got people who will never be able to afford to buy their own home state agents salaries aren’t great. People who work in complaints department salaries aren’t great unless you get to a certain level of your professionally qualified or the specific task.
Marion Ellis [00:38:23] It’s the same as any other administrative type job. You know as poor as that sounds and what I realized is that I really need you to work on helping them empathize and understand. So for me you know my training for the team would then involve that you wouldn’t just go out with surveyor for the day they would come visit an estate agent. They would understand and speak to we had sessions with conveyances as much as we could so they could understand the process. And then we got to talk about you know if they couldn’t buy and sell a house. What was their experience renting or perhaps the parent or a sibling or until somebody was buying and selling a house.
Marion Ellis [00:39:02] I’m really just be aware to be aware of what was going on in the news and just to have that that sort of you know when you work in complaint you’ve got to have empathy and understanding but it’s a big ask sometimes to put someone in that position and that was the same in some of the you know some of the people who were in the judging category you know they they didn’t have the ailments or the financial issues or the challenges that their customers had. And therefore it’s a big ask to have somebody to have empathy and that’s very different to sympathy because empathy you know. Yes I hear you. This is work we can do about it together rather than oh I’m so sorry that’s happened. You know we can all or hopefully like that. But empathy you get means you understand and you then work out a plan of what what needs to be done to resolve it or to move it forward. So the the most improved sort of category that I had was really for me is did they understand that. And it was the power of employee experience which is customer experience just internally for me you know.
Marion Ellis [00:40:15] What did they do and how did they invest.
Marion Ellis [00:40:17] And some of them you know brought in their front line staff to talk about it and that’s when you really see the passion coming through.
Tony Winyard [00:40:24] As far as exceeding expectations is concerned. What are your thoughts on that?
Marion Ellis [00:40:29] You know exceeding expectations managing expectations it sounds like something we should do. And I think people can really overthink it. That’s a great quote that I always come back to by tennis player American tennis player called Arthur Ashe but from back in the 70s I think it was and he had a quote and he said Start Where You Are. Use what you have. Do what you can and that’s for me where it starts you know whatever level you are in an organization or within your industry you just start. You just start being a bit nicer. You just start being a bit kinder and then you notice what makes a difference. And you talk to others about sex and you start to share experience. You then share case studies. I think they’re really really powerful a powerful tool to show what’s been done in the old sort of marketing hype of you know testimonials that’s different but to really start to share and then you start to use the power of your network. People don’t realize the network that they have some times when you know it’s a thing better for me when you actually when you get a junior member of staff who comes to you often into the senior and flagged something and says What do I do about this. And you say what do you think. And they they know the answer the claims teams the customer experience team your front line team. A lot of them know the answer. They’ve just never been asked so use your network and use the people that are there and and do what you can.
Marion Ellis [00:42:08] Sometimes you know you know. I mean look at me. I’m all for changing the home buying and selling industry. That’s massive. You know what you just do what you can. I’m not going to do it single handedly. Crikey I know that but I know that there are bits that I can do that makes difference and I know that’s talking about it makes a difference. And that’s just where it starts.
Tony Winyard [00:42:30] Marion, I want to be respectful of your time. It’s 42 minutes gone already. So if people want to find out more about you. Where would they go.
Marion Ellis [00:42:38] So best place really would be to come find me on LinkedIn or visit our Web sites at BlueBoxPartners.com.
Tony Winyard [00:42:47] Well it’s been a pleasure speaking with Marion and I look forward to meeting you sometime.
Marion Ellis [00:42:52] Yeah you too. Thanks very much.
Tony Winyard [00:43:03] Next week is episode 29 with James Nathan who has a company called the James Nathan Experience.
Tony Winyard [00:43:10] He also also has a podcast called The James Nathan show. James is a speaker. His past is in accountancy and recruitment and he does many things now as well as as a speaker is a trainer and helps many different companies out and some of the things that we talk about next week are why you shouldn’t use satisfaction surveys what the shop lush can teach us and why awaits his job is not seen as a career here in the UK as it is in France and we cover many many more things as well. Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s show why not join the facebook group exceeding expectations. Share some insights about this episode or any other ask him questions and it’ll be great if you can maybe leave a review for the podcast on iTunes or any of the other podcast platforms. Hope you have a fantastic week and see.
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