Kicking it with our Head of Client Care
Polly Lambert, our Head of Global Marketing, sat down with Nathalie Ngankoy – head of Client Care at Retail Directions, to find out more about her passion for software and her karate moves.
What does your role at Retail Directions involve?
I manage Client Care at Retail Directions, which in essence means our team ensures that clients get the service and experience they would need when using our products. We expect our new products to work, and our clients expect the same. It’s our job to manage helpdesk support, and to provide the right resolution, information, and advice in a timely way to ensure our clients trust us and can rely on us to resolve their issues.
Tell me about your career path and what led you to choose your profession?
Getting into technology wasn’t originally a ‘calling’ if you like - I chose to be a developer as the idea of creating software sounded like fun!
I started as a developer in 1992 working as an intern. The company I joined had just started replacing their VB POS system with a Clarion POS system. My first years in this role were spent developing software - going onsite for new store openings, where I dealt with software installations and training.
I then progressed to working in the ERP space, where I started developing in VB, .Net, and a little C#. This is where I was introduced to SQL – my happy place. Over time I realised that I was not the kind of developer who evolves and ‘rolls with the times’, but was more focused on making sure that the wheels turned. I wanted to get to the heart of things. This is how I ended up focusing on root cause analysis and became a specialist in finding problems. I love finding a bug, those complicated ones that no one has the time or the inclination to find!
I then moved into a development management position for the last few years at my previous company. By this time, I had worked for them for 23 years as a developer, but the last 5 years as development manager wasn’t throwing up any new challenges for me. I knew the system backwards, knew how to fix any issues, and was felt I wanted to do more.
What does a typical day in your job involve?
Client Care focuses mainly on call triage, call resolution, and keeping our clients informed. When a ticket is raised, we engage with our clients, take time to understand their frustrations, and endeavour to ensure their issues are resolved. A large part of my role is communication, which includes a certain level of reporting – both internally and externally - to keep our stakeholders up to date on a regular basis.
What do you enjoy most about being a team leader?
I’ll be honest, becoming a team leader didn’t come naturally at first, having spent much of my career squirreling away to find resolutions to problems. But I am continuing to enhance my skills in this area, and enjoy the interaction and satisfaction that comes with being in a team. It helps that I have an awesome team of course! It’s becoming second nature now to connect personally with my team every day, as I always want to ensure they are happy and to help remove any barriers they might have. If your team is happy then you will always get the best out of them.
What do you do in your spare time?
My family and I are real homebodies, especially during COVID when we discovered a love for being at home and ensuring our home is a happy place. I like to read, my husband and I do karate, and we love taking walks with our dogs. Karate is a brilliant way to keep fit and it clears the mind from any frustrations.
Who have been your sources of inspiration and role models in your career?
I have really been blessed with great bosses who have always looked after me and guided me. My mother is a great inspiration, I call her the “tough old bird”. Above all, she has taught me determination and that hard work pays off.
What gives you the most satisfaction in your job and why?
Balancing figures! Be it stock, sales, general ledgers, or store journals. To me, the most important part of any retail system is the integrity of the data. People think the pretty UI is important, and it is, but to me, accurate stock data flowing correctly with a single source of the truth is mission critical for retailers.
What would you say to anybody considering your profession as a career choice/study option?
I loved developing software so if anybody wanted to choose this career, I would say to them ‘You can’t go wrong!’. It can be stressful at times – the joy of code - but very rewarding. As for Client Care, it’s all about solving problems and paving the way for clients to get more value from their investments. It’s challenging at times, but a huge source of satisfaction when you find a resolution and close those tickets!
What do you think the future of your profession holds?
Client Care has so much growth potential, as it’s so closely linked with client experience, and we have many ideas of how to keep improving the service we deliver. Our clients know that we are on their side and continually working to improve the product for them. Our clients are our inspiration, and without them, we don’t have a product.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Stand your ground, and don’t be intimidated.
What is the best piece of advice you would give?
Never give up. Walk away when you can’t find the answer, but come back tomorrow and you will most likely find it and more.
Thank you to Nathalie, our very own Sensei! The art of karate takes discipline, focus, and commitment, just like delivering excellence in client care.