In the latest “Meet the Team” blog, we caught up with Shirley Horne, Customer Services Manager for Starrett UK, to learn more about this bubbly, enthusiastic and larger-than-life personality. Not only does Shirley ensures the smooth running of the Customer Services department, but offers so much more to company with 35 years’ service under her belt, read on to find out how…
Shirley, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am born and bred in Jedburgh, a beautiful historic town in the Scottish Borders. I have a daughter, Emma, who is solicitor working and living in Edinburgh and two little Yorkshire Terriers, Poppy and Lilly.
In my spare time I like gardening, taking the dogs for a walk, reading and socialising with my friends, the ‘ladies who lunch’.
Tell us about your role – what does a typical day involve?
As Customer Service Manager I never know what I am going to deal with. I am very customer centric and do my utmost to make sure that their experience with Starrett is second to none.
First of all, each day begins with working on the previous day sales and order figures, to send to our Commercial Director, Robert McKechnie and the rest of the Commercial Team. This is then displayed on our internal screens within the departments. I check to see what work the Customer Services team are working on and make sure all the priority jobs are being actioned.
I am there to support not only my Customer Service Team, but also our Area Sales Managers, Digital Manager, Key Account Manager and Export Manager, and not forgetting our customers.
I am involved in projects we have ongoing, like the introduction of our Meat and Fish product range, new strategic planning for the future development of products and I also contact customers if there are any issues with customer service.
Tell us more about the team you manage?
At present I manage a team of five, with plans to recruit a Customer Service Team Leader who would take on a lot of the day-to-day management of the team and allow me to concentrate more on reporting for the Commercial Director. We are a close team and work very well together, with an emphasis of multi-tasking within the department.
Why did you choose a career in customer services?
I first started with the company in 1975 from school, which came about during a school visit to Starrett. I was asked to come along to the Personnel department (this is the name for it way back then) and thinking I had been on my best behaviour and could not have done anything wrong.
As I was in my last year at high school and I absolutely loved my secretarial studies class, which I had an aptitude for, I was asked if I would like to start with the company in the Sales office as Post Girl (or Post Person now). Of course I said yes, but was a little upset because I had to start at the beginning of our school holidays, so I missed out that year.
I did not stay in that position long before being moved to the Sales team where I was trained on taking customer calls. I was moved again to the export side of things, which involved getting paperwork ready for customs and excise to allow the goods to be shipped to various countries around the world.
I left in 1979 to have my daughter and returned 11 years later in 1990 to join the Sales team. By this time I was trained in all aspects which allowed me to move around within the department. I was given a promotion to Customer Service Team Leader and stayed in this role until I applied for the position of Customer Service Manager.
You didn’t start out in customer services, how long have you been with the company? Tell us about your journey into this role.
I have been with the company altogether 35 years. Five years initially and then a run of 30 years, but this is not uncommon for employees of Starrett. We have many within the company who have a longer service record than me.
What is it you love about your job?
I love admin work, but I also love being able to help my team and most of all, the customers.
What challenges are you often faced with within this role?
My biggest challenge is not having enough time in the day.
Why do you love working for Starrett?
Starrett give you a sense of family, there are a lot of employees who are related or have had a relation working in Starrett. My mother and brother at one time both worked for the company and my daughter worked here during university breaks.
How has Starrett helped develop your career?
Starrett has helped me develop my own personal development plan because from the day I started in 1975, I have attended various colleges and training programmes to gain further experience and qualifications. Even now I am always on the lookout for any course that I think could help me develop my team to their maximum potential.
What are your goals for the future?
To make sure that I do as much as possible to make sure that succession planning is in place, bringing forward the younger members of our team who will hopefully be the future of Starrett