When Liam joined XLN at the age of 22 as a temporary stop gap between jobs he never imagined that he would still be here more than 17 years later and have the honour of being the company’s longest-serving employee. Ahead of XLN’s 20th birthday celebrations Liam explains why he has stayed so long.
How long have you worked at XLN?
17 years and 8 months
What was your role when you joined?
I joined XLN as a customer service advisor because I already had a bit of experience working in customer service in the telecoms industry. I did that job for about a year on the front line of the customer service team and then because I had good technical knowledge I set up the fault repair department and ran that for a few years.
What is your role now?
I am a project manager. I moved into this role in 2013 and I now manage a wide variety of projects; anything from a change in our CRM system through to big infrastructure projects. When the company had to move out of its original premises in Vauxhall, for example, I project managed the move and oversaw the relocation of everyone and their belongings to our present premises in Millbank Tower in London.
Why have you stayed with XLN for so long?
I have had several different roles over the years which has given me an opportunity to develop my skills and have new experiences.
What was XLN like when you joined it?
When I started working for XLN it was a very small team with less than 20 employees and so we all quickly got to know each other. The business was based in an old brewery building in Vauxhall which had a lot of character but it wasn’t really designed as an office building so it was quite cold and didn’t have many windows.
We initially rented a fairly small space in the brewery but as the business started to grow we needed to expand and so every couple of years XLN would take over another floor and gradually fill it up with people.
How has the business changed since you have been here?
Pretty soon after I joined, the sales volumes really ramped up. As a result customer service enquiries sky rocketed and we were all flat out every day for months on end trying to work through the stack of call-backs on our desks. It was quite a stressful time so eventually we set up an outsourced customer service function in India to provide some respite. I went out to India twice a year as I had a small team there.
We eventually moved our customer service team back to the UK because we could see that this was what our customers wanted, but at the time having a call centre in India really helped us to get through that hectic time. Looking at the customer growth numbers from that period it was clear to see why we were so busy. There is a certain sense of satisfaction in that.
Many start up businesses fail in the early years – why do you think that XLN has been so successful and managed to stay around?
I think that first of all it was a case of great timing – the telecoms industry was being deregulated and XLN’s founder saw that there was a huge opportunity to take customers away from BT and took advantage of it. Secondly I think that the dedication of the people involved in XLN meant that it had the best chance to succeed.
What do you miss about the old days?
I miss some of the people that used to work here, and I miss the start-up vibe – it was fun and frenetic and chaotic and the whole approach was very much ‘just do it’. We moved fast and tried new things and I think that was a key part of XLN’s early success. There is still an entrepreneurial spirit at XLN but now we have a bit more time to plan things and think things through and make sure that things are done a bit more thoroughly.
What do you think customers like most about XLN?
For our customers it is still all about the service that we offer. Customers really like having their calls answered super quickly and they really like talking to someone in the UK. I think that is why so many customers have stayed with us for so long.