Starting as Head of Client Relationships During a Global Pandemic

Cathy Grant, Head of Client Relationships for FFBS

I knew that adapting to my new role of Head of Client Relationships for Family Fund Business Services (FFBS) would take a good few weeks, but starting anything new during lockdown has definitely had its unique challenges. Not least the additional challenge of keeping two young children entertained in the background for days on end!

I’m lucky that I’d already worked closely with many of the FFBS team in my role for Family Fund in the BBC Children in Need Emergency Essentials Team but, of course, I was still a little nervous about settling into a new team, when we can’t meet face to face, and being able to support my new team members Laura Cope, Paul McAfee and Helen Richards.

My fears were quickly diffused as we’ve managed to find new and inventive ways to work together, and the increased communication during lockdown (using online chat and video calls in place of face-to-face meetings) has actually helped to speed up parts of my induction.

There’s still a lot to learn though. FFBS has over 30 customers from local authorities and charities to housing associations who all rely on our fulfilment services to deliver everything from white goods and furniture to food and energy vouchers. That’s equated to almost 70,000 transactions with suppliers in the first quarter of 2020, an increase year-on-year due to additional need during the pandemic. During this time we have also supported customers by  helping them fulfil new contracts to furnish full blocks of flats for the homeless, or new homes for refugees resettling in the UK.

The largest customer by far is Northgate Public Services who administer Welsh Government’s Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF). FFBS is contracted to fulfil all the grants awarded and in June 2020 alone delivered over 20,000 items to individuals. Over half of these awards were emergency funding for people experiencing financial hardship.

We’ve also recently overseen the delivery of over 500 laptops to vulnerable children through the Children in Need Emergency Essentials Programme administered by Family Fund’s Grant Services team.

It’s a good feeling to know that any profit made by FFBS in its work with these customers will in turn go towards supporting Family Fund grant schemes. Due to the FFBS’ unique business model, all profits are donated to Family Fund as unrestricted funds, enabling the charity to support even more UK families.

Joining the Account Managers Laura and Paul in their regular meetings with customers, I could immediately see the respect that customers have for our service and how it is delivered.

This is highlighted in the feedback that the helpdesk team, led by Head of Operations Dorn Pryce and Operations Manager Sarah Lolley, get on a regular basis:

“What a great service! Quick response to query and resolved straight away. Very happy, thank you.” Royal British Legion

“Great prompt and helpful service especially during these difficult times. Thank you.” Community Southwark

We’re committed to giving our clients the very best service and the needs of their beneficiaries are at the heart of everything we do. We’re continually evaluating our processes, systems and service offering to ensure we can give our customers the support they need while streamlining their services so, in turn, they can help even more people through their schemes.

What I have seen during my first few months, arguably the busiest period in the business’ history, is true collaboration between our teams, customers and suppliers and a dedication to help clients help even more people in need.

There has certainly been lots to do! But so far I have found FFBS a positively challenging and exciting place to be.

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