"We keep everybody online and make sure that all their telephone lines are working."

I went from not really knowing how to turn on a computer to keeping all our stores and employees online!

I work under Supplier Services; I deal directly with the suppliers. The main communication suppliers my colleagues, Janet, Jack, David and I work with are Vodafone & B.T. Our team of four organises all the telephony for all our UK retail stores, Head Office and our Distribution Centre, Westway. Basically, we keep everybody online and make sure that all their telephone lines are working. Together, we ensure that IT Services and Suppliers deliver value to Group IT, customers and users. There's so much going on – it definitely keeps us busy!

Early days

I came back to work in 2000 after spending 10 years bringing up my two children. I started working in the Clarks Village Outlet Store as a part-time Sales Assistant. Shortly after, the manager approached me and asked me to move on to Customer Enquiries within the store. I loved working in this area; it was really good fun and a great team! I worked there for about 18 months until I made the decision to move across to Head Office. Clarks were really good and made every effort to help me find something suitable

There were a few vacancies in IT at the time and Clarks encouraged me to pursue a career in this department. I went from not really knowing how to turn on a computer, to completing a local ECDL evening class. Everything else I learned at Clarks. Clarks are really good at funding training. My first role in Head Office was within Store Systems in 2002.

Store insight

Having worked in a store really helps me in my current role as I understand when a shop calls and says, “Help, we've got no broadband!” I've been in that position, with the tills down and a queue out the door – you feel like crying! So I definitely do understand! If the Broadband connections go down in store, technically, you can still process payments as the till will still work. The part that won't work is the communication between Clarks and the card issuer to get the authorisation. This can be done manually in store but it's quite time consuming. So essentially, if broadband goes down, we lose customers.

What I do

Each store has an individual IP. We have a tool that allows us to input the IP and will then ping the routers and show us if the line is up or down. We have another tool that shows us the exact moments when any store's line has dropped, day in day out. I have to investigate why a line might have dropped – which requires detective work! It could be something that has happened in the local environment, such as engineers carrying out work in the vicinity or rain disrupting the line. Or it could just be that the router is slightly dated and has stopped working. We try rebooting and we ask BT to run health checks. If none of that is working then we swap the router – we would only send a B.T. engineer out as a very last resort.

Every single store has daily, weekly, monthly and yearly targets. Therefore, not having broadband has a financial impact, not only on the store, but also on the individuals working there. If we can't get broadband working, we're failing them. This really drives our team to try and resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

My responsibilities

There are certain things that I do on a regular basis. For example, every Monday morning, I do a snapshot of all the retail stores' line feeds. We have a really useful tool that shows you the history and if anything has changed. A lot of my job involves reacting quickly as requests come through the door…or my inbox! They could involve anything from carrying out scheduled office moves, to transferring extension numbers. There might be an incident where there is a break in the line in Head Office or the Distribution Centre – that would come through to us. Or we could have a query from the switchboard. If callers are constantly being put through to the wrong person, we would have to do some more detective work!

We allocate extension numbers for all the new starters and reassign numbers for leavers too. I also deal with transactions that get pushed back to us by Streamline / Worldpay, as well as any customer-based queries regarding card payments. I try and defend the card payment on behalf of Clarks for our retail stores. We do suffer from nuisance calls from time to time, which means getting the relevant information to block certain numbers. In short, we have no idea what our workload is going to be day to day!

The best bits… and the trickiest

The best part of my job is solving a store's problem. When we manage to help a store achieve their targets, you think 'Brilliant!' It's all about providing that service to our stakeholders as efficiently as possible. The most challenging part of my role is trying to get to the bottom of a broadband issue – going through every possibility and resolving some really difficult problems.

My advice for people thinking of joining

Clarks has always been very good and very fair to me. Every day, I enjoy what I do and I do it to the best of my ability. If you want somewhere where you'll learn and where your employer will give you the tools to learn, then there are lots of opportunities here for you. Especially as you're encouraged to move between departments.

Initially I was attracted to Clarks because they had a reputation locally for being a good employer and looking after their employees. The level of pay was good; it was local (so no commute); and I knew people who worked here who loved it. It's a bit like joining a family and it is pretty unique in that way. I actually really enjoy coming to work because, even when you have gloomier times, there are always people here who are good friends and very supportive. It just makes you think, 'Aren't I lucky!'

Helen, Supplier Services Analyst