Ola is Look Ahead’s Head of Customer Service and the Deputy Chair of our Cultural Diversity Network. Giving customers, as well as staff, a voice motivates him every day.
I started at Look Ahead back in September 2019, and it’s been quite a journey ever since. I work as the Head of Customer Services in the organisation’s Customer Experience Directorate, which was created the year before I joined.
Until then, the first half of my working career has been as a civil servant at the Ministry of Justice, where I was responsible for improving customer experiences in the Civil Courts system in and around London. The other half of my career has been in similar customer service start up roles in property management services, housing associations, a private guarantee agency and the health and fitness outfit, David Lloyd Leisure. So, when I came to Look Ahead, I’d already had some experience of the social housing sector before, but the care and support aspect was something intriguing for me.
Today, my work is all about enhancing customer experience delivery for the people Look Ahead supports and providing them with a voice, an ear and a conscience. After all, you can’t expect happy customers if you’re not willing to listen to them. I’ve enjoyed engaging with customers throughout my career, and this is something I have kept with me. I regularly attend meetings with customers to ensure I am in touch with their concerns. I also oversee both the Customer Contact Centre where people can raise repairs and discuss issues and our Complaints Management Service who can support customers with resolving any problems or concerns they may have. I’ve got a great team who align with our ethos and values, we don’t say “can’t be done” we say, “let’s find a way to do it” and then work it out.
We keep customers at the centre of everything we do, it’s paramount, it’s why I joined Look Ahead in the first place. But the buck doesn’t just stop at our directorate. I’m pleased to say that our team has also been engaging with Look Ahead’s central services to develop internal customer service standards. The quality of our care and support providing services are already audited and evaluated, so it’s only natural that we recreate this for our other internal teams and departments too. It’s about encouraging best practice, even if you don’t work directly with customers every day, you still need to learn how to better understand their needs and engage with them positively to make their experiences better.
In addition to my role, I’m also the Deputy Chair of Look Ahead’s Cultural Diversity Network. We run events and activities that bring both staff and customers together to celebrate their many different cultures and backgrounds. In the last couple of years for example, we have made great strides in running exciting and interesting Black History Month events, uniting people with enjoyable activities, inspirational stories and of course, fantastic food.
If there’s one thing I want people to take away from my story, it’s that Look Ahead is somewhere you can make a difference. Whether you’re a customer or a member of staff, there’s always an opportunity to engage, to challenge and to have an impact.