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We spoke to Sam Thomas and Jodie Saunders from our customer services centre in Beckenham to find out how they help our clients, their shareholders and employee shareholders. 

We asked what skills you need to give customers the best service possible, how Link supports new starters, and what tips you should keep in mind if you’re looking for a role like theirs.

Tell us more about the customer services centre. 

Sam: It’s where our clients’ shareholders call when they  have any enquiries – from employee share plans to big corporate actions.
We mostly hear from shareholders, as well as larger  customers, such as solicitors’ firms and independent financial advisers. It’s great to work with a large variety of clientele; we’re their information hub and their first point of contact, so we give them full support whatever their enquiry might be.

What skills do you need to work in here?

Sam: The most important skill is, of course, the ability to listen. 
Listening and responding in the most appropriate way, while adapting to the situation immediately, is all part of having strong communication skills. If you work well under pressure, can keep calm and empathise with people, then this is the job for you. 
The other important thing to remember is that, although you might be telling someone information you’ve heard 100 times, this is the first time that caller has heard it. I always strive to give our customers the same fairness and respect they deserve.
Jodie: There are no specific qualifications you need to apply; you just need confidence that you can communicate professionally and, like Sam said, with empathy. It’s definitely helpful to have worked in customer service, as you already have those strong communication skills – but it’s not essential. 
Like any role, there are always situations that are more  difficult than others – especially when you’re dealing with a sensitive topic and there are emotions involved – so it’s important to stay calm and professional, and resolve the caller’s issue to the best of your ability. 

What is the best part of your role? 

Sam: For me, it’s being a buddy to trainees. It’s so rewarding to watch those who have maybe had some self-doubt build their confidence as they settle into the role. The opportunity to help them succeed brings me a great sense of pride.
Jodie: Apart from being a buddy, which is also one of my favourite parts, I am grateful to have had so much support from Link when working on a part-time basis. 
I work part-time because of a medical condition and when I moved on from my previous job, I was worried that I’d struggle to find an office role that would allow my shorter hours – but I found Link. 
From my first interview, they were so understanding. Instead of assigning me my hours, they gave me full flexibility to choose my own and they listened to my specific needs. If you’re looking to join a company that has great part-time opportunities, Link is the place for you – and I think it’s important that everyone is aware that this is a possibility for them. 

How has Link supported you to deal with the queries you get?

Sam: Link has introduced a training programme for new
starters and it’s a far more supportive system than ever before. Starters are now given information in smaller chunks to help them absorb it. They’re also given active time with a ‘buddy’ so they can put theory into practice on live calls – but with full support. We try to keep the same buddies together throughout the programme so that they  feel comfortable and can build a level of trust.
Jodie: Our managers are always in touch with their teams so they know how best to improve our training and experience. I only joined Link in January and there has already been such an improvement in training for our recruits through our new training and ‘buddy’ programme. Link is great at enhancing their programmes and systems to benefit colleagues, the company, shareholders and other customers who are calling in.  

What are your tips for someone looking to work here? 

Sam: A huge part of this role is how you’re able to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Make sure you show that you’re understanding, and that you can communicate with confidence. 
Jodie: Show that you’re a positive person – because that’s how you need to be to work in customer service. Think to yourself, why have I chosen to apply for this role? And if it’s because you can put a smile on your face whatever the weather – then show them that.

I always tell my trainees that people can tell when you’re smiling even over the phone. So go in there, be positive, and make sure you ask them questions too! 

Lastly, can you tell us something about you? What do you like to do outside of the office?

Sam: The most recent hobby I’ve picked up is actually through work. Every Tuesday, we play five-a-side football. It’s great fun as it’s a chance to get to know some of my colleagues on a more personal level and it’s a fantastic way to keep active.
Jodie: My hobby is a bit more unusual! You might have heard of poi? You do tricks, spin or make patterns with weights on chains or ropes in each hand… while they’re alight. 
I used to perform at festivals but now I just do it for fun. It originated with the Māori people of New Zealand and has become popular entertainment over here in the UK, and it’s not as dangerous as it sounds as the weights are set alight with paraffin rather than fire. 
My other favourite hobby is doing the ‘killer’ levels of sudoku! That’s certainly more relaxing.


A photo of Jodie performing Poi