Spotlight on... Lily Stein, customer service guru
2nd August 2016
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re Spotlighting some of the brilliant women at Octopus. Today: Lily Stein, one of Octopus Energy's operations managers, who talks putting the heart back into energy.
So, Lily, why did you join Octopus?
I studied Geography at university where I did a lot of climate change studies. I learned a lot about energy and how fundamental it is, so I decided that I wanted to work in the energy sector, but for a company with a heart. Octopuses have three hearts, so here I am!
What do you do at Octopus?
I lead one of the Operations teams and oversee our amazing team of remote workers, as well as handling onboarding and training of new staff. In Operations, we look for problems and try to fix them before they affect our customers. I work on training up newcomers to look after our 180,000 customers the same way we did when there were only 10,000.
How does Octopus do customer service differently?
Most suppliers treat their customers like numbers – asking for customer references instead of names, for example. To them, customers are just bits of work they have to do, not people. We think about the customer's whole experience, treating them how we want to be treated ourselves. Using their names is just one of the ways we can show how serious we are about making a difference.
Many of the people I speak to have been messed around by their old suppliers, passed from person to person without ever getting anything done, and having to explain their queries over and over again. Part of what I do is rebuilding that lost trust. We have highly-qualified people who recognise the needs of customers and can fix virtually any problem they have, first time.
Changing the public's perception of energy companies is challenging, but we're working hard to make it happen. We're trying to make things as easy as possible for the customer – giving power back to the people!
How have customers reacted to the Octopus service?
Customers react really well. They end up treating you like a friend. For example, a man called to give a reading on behalf of his daughter because she couldn't reach the meter. I thought perhaps there was an accessibility issue but it was due to her being pregnant. I then spoke with the daughter and we had a really lovely conversation, talking about baby names and so on, and it was a really good feeling. It's much more personal. And of course it makes my job so much more fun and meaningful when I can have that rapport with customers.
What are you working on at the moment?
Octopus is growing. Like, really quickly. So my main job at the moment is overseeing the training of new staff – some in our Soho office, many in our new office up in Leicester. The Leicester office only opened this past November and already we’ve got 30 energy specialists working there. It’s super important that as we grow, we keep welcoming these newbies into the family so that they feel really comfortable as well as confident in their new roles.
I also oversee our remote workforce – we call them the ‘DigiOps’ team – who look after our customers’ out-of-hours enquiries. This is a group made up mostly of women working from home, many of them working mums, who help our customers in the evenings and on the weekend. Making sure they’re in the loop and feel part of the Octopus team is my priority.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Trying to gain people’s trust can be tricky given common perception of the energy industry isn’t great!
What's the best part of your job?
Working with brilliant, engaged people.
Any message for people thinking of switching?
Do it! We're doing the right thing and there are a lot of suppliers who aren't. With us, you really matter.
Any message for people who've already switched?
Thank you very much for giving us a go, and please don't hesitate to give us a shout if you think there’s anything we could be doing better.
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