Why don't we start with a bit about you and your role here at Vernacare?
As Customer Service & UK Commercial Manager I am responsible for the day-to-day operation of our Customer Service department and management of key distributors in the UK.
Within Vernacare we have three distinct operations, each of which brings its own unique set of complexities.
Our Technical Services division is predominantly UK-focussed with 11 engineers providing national service and maintenance coverage for our range of medical pulp macerators. As Customer Services, we follow the process from taking the initial phone call from the customer, scheduling a site visit by our Engineer and processing orders for any works which may be required to keep the machine in optimal working condition.
Within the UK, our range of ward-critical consumable products are market-leaders so it is critical that we provide on-time and in-full deliveries to ensure healthcare providers are equipped with the correct products for safe and effective patient care. Our team of Customer Service advisors are dedicated to delivering the best outcome possible for our customers.
Internationally, the Vernacare system, with all of its associated products, is being adopted as best-practice all over the world. Whenever we enter a new market, Customer Service work closely with our International sales team to ensure our overseas partners distribute Vernacare products with complete confidence in us as a supplier. Each market is completely different and has its own requirements.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
Working with the team we have here at Matrix Park in Lancashire is certainly the most enjoyable aspect of my role. Following the acquisition of Synergy Health Healthcare Consumable Solutions in November 2017 we have a Customer Service Team which is completely new to Vernacare. For example, in only a few months, Laura Fantanzo and Stephanie Kelsey have developed fantastic working relationships with our International partners and have fully taken on-board the Vernacare product range and processes.
Our UK business was most affected by the acquisition and only through the efforts of Caroline Budge and Shirley Smith, along with our new-starter Ellie Lamb, have we been able to successfully merge the two businesses and their different processes. For the Technical Services division, we again have two new-starters in Susan Ellis and Natalie Hill who in the space of only three months have become expert users of our scheduling software, developing great relationships with our field-based engineers and office-based team.
Outside of Customer Service, our UK Commercial Executive Joanne Sutton and Contracts Analyst Joanne Tong are also new to the Vernacare business and help provide the commercial background upon which we trade with the NHS.
Overall, I feel very lucky to be part of a team that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure customers were unaffected by the workload involved during the acquisition and that is passionate about the Vernacare system and the benefits it brings.
How do you think Vernacare has changed since the start of your employment?
There have been a few changes! I joined Vernacare eight (!) years ago as a junior member of the UK commercial team. Over time I have seen the business grow and develop and we have become far more adaptable to an ever-changing healthcare landscape, providing solutions that enable us to best service our UK and International customers.
What do you do in a typical day at the office?
I’d have to agree with most of the other blogs which we have published and say there is no such thing as a typical day! Most days I will work closely with the Customer Service department to resolve any queries or issues which would otherwise delay an order reaching a customer or our engineers attending a service visit or call-out.
On a daily basis along with Joanne Sutton, we schedule deliveries into NHS Supply Chain, the largest user of our products globally from which the vast majority of Acute NHS Trusts in England are serviced. We also develop product communications to ensure that our customers are fully informed of our range and any changes/improvements which are on the way.
With Joanne Tong, I work to ensure that our products have the optimal availability here in the UK. This involves locating Tender/OJEU notices whereby a customer or distributor will seek a framework from which to purchase our products. Jo and I will prepare the company’s response to the tender notice; ensuring our submission is fully compliant with their requirements.
"A huge part of my role is to streamline and develop processes that improve day-to-day functions, in turn allowing us to provide better customer outcomes. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in a task without asking “how can I do it better?” "
Let’s get personal! Tell us something we don’t know about you…
I enjoy anything which involves a bit of adrenaline! Whenever I go away I make sure to include something at least ostensibly dangerous; be it a shark dive, bull-run, rock climb or bungee jump. On a more regular basis I’m a season ticket holder at Wigan Warriors, I play the guitar and collect books on the Russian Revolution. Oh, and I’m decent at FIFA! I also learned Transcendental Meditation (the Beatles one) and very limited Sanskrit at secondary school; The Maharishi School for the Age of Enlightenment in Skelmersdale, Lancashire.
Whilst at university I signed-up to a Manchester TV agency so I did a bit of work with them, most notably having Wayne Rooney’s arm hide my face in a photoshoot for the back page of NUTS. As a child I was cast in two episodes of the detective show Cracker, but was cruelly cut out of every scene.