Lauren Appleby, Customer Service Operator

Department: Customer Service

"As the customer service team, we are often the first point of contact for customers and enquiries. We take orders over the phone and an increasing amount are now coming through via email."

Joining ForFarmers

“I first started working at ForFarmers in November 2017. After a year, I took some time out and decided to travel around Australia for six months; it was an amazing experience. When I returned I was really lucky and able to re-join the ForFarmers team on a permanent contract in April 2018. There were lots of familiar faces to welcome me back and it felt like I’d never really left!”

ForFarmers' Newcastle-Under-Lyme site
ForFarmers' Newcastle-Under-Lyme site

Increasing responsibility

“I became interested in the game side of the business and became the ‘go-to’ person for orders and queries in Newcastle-Under-Lyme Customer Service Department (CSD). This year, I have taken on more responsibility and have become the lead for the game season in our CSD. I have attended a training day and we have a weekly national call to discuss finer details such as promotions, manufacturing and stock levels.”

“On a daily basis, the customer service team coordinate and liaise with a variety of departments and individuals including account managers, transport planners and production."

“As the customer service team, we are often the first point of contact for customers and enquiries. We take orders over the phone and an increasing amount are now coming through via email. We build really good rapport with our customers and have a lot on callout. This is when we will pre-empt orders, pencil them in the system and call the customer to prevent them running out of feed. We individually look after different account managers, groups and merchants. We work closely with transport and production to ensure that our service runs smoothly for all of our customers.”

“As part of my role, I send out account packs to new customers. This includes contact information, relevant information on plain and medicated feed and a few leaflets that give customers general advice on animal performance and other products we offer.”

A typical day

“I start the day with a coffee of course, I then log on to our system and go through the email inboxes. Once I’ve attended to any orders and replied to emails, I check to see if we have had any under-weights. These are shown on our SAP system and if any customers require phone calls to inform them I complete them early in the day.”

"Following this, I then start my callout list which can take all day sometimes. I ring all of my customers who have provisional orders and tend to have a little chat with them, whilst checking and confirming their order details. Some customers have calls every week and as a result we really get to know each other.”

“No two days are ever the same and there’s always a new challenge or something needs changing, but it certainly makes the days go quickly.”

“Phone calls and emails are constantly coming in throughout the day with orders, queries and issues. We try to deal with them as quickly and efficiently as possible. We rotate the weekly customer prescriptions list amongst the CSD. I finish the day when the transport plans are complete and I will call or text customers their estimated time of arrival for the following day.”

Adjusting to working from home

Lauren working from home

“Working from home was strange to start with. I set up a workspace on my kitchen table and although I‘ve missed using two screens I’m so fortunate that I have been able to continue working throughout lockdown.”

“I’m a real people person and I have missed seeing my colleagues however ForFarmers has been great at providing technology for remote working. As a team we have been able to communicate easily using Skype for Business. We also schedule in a weekly video call and it’s lovely to catch up with my colleagues, virtually face-to-face.”

“I am looking forward to going back to the office, whenever that will be, especially as the office is having a full refurbishment so will look completely different.”

Building customer rapport

“One of the valuable experiences I’ve had at work is when I went out on farm and met some of the customers I work with. This was a really eye-opener, I could understand their setup much better and it really helped me understand their requirements and timescales.”

“I enjoy getting to know customers and listening to how passionate they are. All farmers have a story to tell and it’s lovely to get to know them. I enjoy meeting customers and putting a face to the name.”

Life at ForFarmers

“There are six of us in the Customer Service Team and we work together well. We are all really passionate about the agricultural industry, our customers and their animals. We really try to go the extra mile so that our customers receive their orders on time and in full.”

“Within the team we have different skill sets and we make sure we use these to our advantage and support one another. There is a really nice atmosphere in the office and we all know we can rely on each other. We are all friends and before lockdown we would go out once a month for bingo or for a meal, there was always something to look forward too. As well as this, everyone who works at Newcastle-Under-Lyme site is really friendly and we all pull together as one team.”

Lauren Appleby

“I have also attended the Sandringham Game Fair and the East Anglia Game Fair for work purposes. Both were great experiences and it was lovely to meet other ForFarmers members of staff who are based across the country.”

“There are always projects going on at ForFarmers, whether big or small. It’s really nice to be involved and help things progress within the company."

"Over the past couple of years my responsibilities have grown and I’m really grateful for all of the opportunities that have been offered to me.”