Mohammed Sarfaraz, Head of Technical Support, Zen Internet
What is your role in supporting/maintaining the network and customers during COVID-19?
As Head of Technical Support at Zen my team is at the frontline of supporting our customers with any connectivity challenges or technical queries they may have during these uncertain and challenging times. Our USP is that we provide market leading, dependable customer support for all our customer segments both in the Consumer and Business space and we have a proud record of delivering just that. During the current crisis it is more important than ever for us to support our customers and alleviate any problems they may be experiencing to ensure they can carry out the key activities they need to. My job is to ensure we have the single-minded focus, understanding and empathy for the parents that are home-schooling or entertaining their children, the home workers, the online businesses, the gamers, the streamers – whatever purpose our customers have to be able to use their internet in a reliable way – without sounding clichéd, meeting the needs of all our different customer segments is the ultimate goal.
Has your role changed since the lockdown? If so, how?
Myself and my management team as well as our frontline staff have been working from home/remotely since the lockdown began with the wellbeing of our people front of mind. The collective focus at Zen has been to continue to provide the quality of service and support that we offered prior to the lockdown. It’s been important to ensure all of our teams are fully supported even though we are working virtually, however it’s been remarkable to see everyone has really risen to the challenge and productivity and customer satisfaction levels have remained high despite greater customer demand and higher call volumes /enquiries. What’s more, our response rates have remained strong and the team is getting lots of appreciation and positive feedback from our customers, many of whom have endorsed the service provided by Zen’s Tech Support teams during the current crisis via social media and email.
Why do you think it is important that you continue to work during COVID-19?
At Zen we all understand that the reliability of one’s Internet connection is more important now than ever. We are working hard to ensure we have priority support in place for those customers who might need additional help such as disability, vulnerability through income loss, or health needs, where a phone line or broadband connection is absolutely critical to them. As a parent of young children who need to connect to online learning portals, communicate with family members, work from home, carry out online shopping it is absolutely imperative to support the nation with their connectivity needs whilst most of the country is effectively housebound with the internet as a key lifeline. There is a heightened sense of duty that flows through me and my people to be available for our customers at the hour of greatest need – I truly believe that.
What do you find most difficult about working during the lockdown?
Balancing the role of Head of Tech Support, teacher and parent means wearing multiple hats at the same time. Added to the mix the long list of ‘essential’ DIY items my wife seems to have drafted that I’ve been putting off for some time! I guess they’ve been the only real difficult aspect of working through the lockdown. But seriously, at Zen we’ve been trialling remote working as part of our Business Continuity planning in Tech Support for some months now and this allowed us to swiftly shift into mass home working in a very short space of time.
What do you find most rewarding about working during the lockdown?
The increasing volume of emails and customer testimonials that demonstrate how we have been able to make a positive difference and kept families and vulnerable customers connected to loved ones and essential business utilities operating during these tough times has been truly amazing and humbling. I wouldn’t in anyway put ourselves on the same pedestal as NHS frontline workers, however to be appreciated by customers and described as a key institution for the work we undertake in these times has been immensely rewarding.
Has the response you receive from the public changed since the lockdown?
At Zen we have always enjoyed customer satisfaction levels that are higher than our industry’s average. At the same time, the reaction from the public and our customers at this time in particular has been really heartening to see. Zen’s customer satisfaction levels at the end of March reached 90% and this really does provide me and my team with the satisfaction but also motivation to work even harder at the hour of greatest need. At Zen, as we continue to challenge the big four providers we aim to build an emotional connection and understanding to effectively support our customers in normal circumstances however, in the current climate it is even more important for our customers to experience this when they require support.