Paul Shamplina, Brand Ambassador for mydeposits, talks about his time spent with the mydeposits Customer Services Team:
As the new Brand Ambassador for mydeposits, I felt that one of the first and most important things to do was to get on the phones and listen to some of the incoming calls received by their Customer Service Team.
I have been supporting distressed landlords for many years, guiding them through the often daunting process of regaining possession of their properties and, in many cases, trying to regain rent arrears from tenants. This was a great opportunity to listen to some of the enquiries mydeposits receives from landlords, tenants, corporate landlords and letting agents, and see how my experience may be able to support the team in the future.
What types of inquiries do they deal with?
The volume of calls the Customer Service team receives is unbelievable. In the last six months, the team of 30 advisors answered over 86,000 calls. Interestingly, only 0.5% of these are complaints (the lowest of all the deposit schemes), most of which relate to disagreements on deposit decisions made by Adjudicators – but then you can never please everyone.
The nature of all the calls received by the team varies greatly, requiring the Customer Service team to demonstrate skills in patience, understanding and empathy. It can be a very challenging role, especially if the person on the end of the phone is frustrated and irate.
Some interesting statistics on dispute causes show 23% relate to cleaning, 19% on damage, 4% rent arrears (which I thought was particularly low) and 26% because the deposit has not been returned to the tenant from the landlord, with no reason given.
What did I find?
While observing the Customer Service Team receiving calls and listening in to them, it was clear that a lot of time and effort is invested in training to ensure advisers not only know how to handle enquiries but also fully understand the security processes in place. I’m told it takes on average 8 months to fully train an operator on the mydeposits Customer Service advice line. Judging by the broad range of enquiries, I can see why, but the confidence and expertise of the staff are excellent.
I listened to one call where a tenant could not spell her surname, nor did she know her own telephone number, which naturally sent alarm bells ringing. This is why mydeposits has such strict security clearance in place prior to engaging in conversation about a deposit. Without it, any random person could pretend they are someone they are not and attempt to obtain the deposit.
Training and development
Following on from my day with the Customer Service team, I have since been involved with running a workshop set up by Operations Manager, Stuart Feldman. We pulled together over 40 frequently asked questions taken from landlords, tenants and letting agents and acted out the phone calls to see how individuals handled them. Some examples included:
- – Tenants complaining the landlord has not returned their deposit, which they need to move into their next property
- – Landlords complaining about a decision made at adjudication
- – Tenants inquiring what they should do if their landlord has failed to protect their deposit in the 30-day time period
- – Landlords wanting clarification on the process of serving a tenant with a Prescribed Information document
The team really enjoyed the session, but I think I enjoyed it most, finally getting my chance to role-play a disgruntled landlord, tenant and letting agent to the group. I may have to brush up on my acting though!
This is just the start of my journey as Brand Ambassador for mydeposits, so watch out for my future blogs, when I sit with the Adjudication and Dispute Resolution Teams. I’ll be sharing some of their great case studies, like the tenant who allegedly put rotten fish underneath the floorboards of a property just to get back at his landlord!
To find out more about how mydeposits helps supports landlords, click here.