Teesside’s Lemon Contact Centre is celebrating 20 years of providing zesty customer service, helping businesses to look after their clients across the UK and Europe since 2003.
Established in a converted garage in Ingleby Barwick, with only a pen, paper and a mobile phone, the company operates 24/7 and now employs around 100 people with a similar number of clients across a wide range of industries, including engineering, care and technical sectors.
From the very start, offering a 24-hours service was key to Lemon succeeding, but with just two people – Martin Anderson and Lesley Wratten – it proved difficult but with the right support the pair got through the first months.
Talking about those early days, Martin said: “An around the clock service was a bit of a unique offering back then, before the age of emails on smartphones and social media, but we knew it would make us stand out from the competition. We drafted in our friends and family to help, with the belief that if we acted and looked like a bigger company, we would inevitably become the company we wanted to be, and to make it work Lesley and I would take turns sleeping in a sleeping bag on the office floor, with our dog at the time, Jake, keeping us company.
“Now, we’re truly a full 24-hour business with our team operating 365 days a year providing contact centre services via phone and email, as well as digital channels like WhatsApp, social media and web chat. Technology has come a long way since we used to fax through messages to our clients, but we’ve constantly invested and adapted as the demands of consumers have changed. Our commitment to data and transparency is as paramount as ever and this can be seen in the live dashboards and reporting tools that we provide to many of our clients, all of which is underpinned by our UKAS audited ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certification to give everyone peace of mind that we treat their business and client data with the trust and integrity that it requires.”
Talking about the growth of the business, Martin said: “On reflection, two decades is a long time and it is poignant to think just how young and inexperienced we were at the outset, but I actually believe it was the naivety of youth that made it all possible. Since then we’ve managed to operate through some fairly significant global events and the business has kept growing through the financial crisis, Brexit and a global pandemic. We’ve rolled with the punches and come out the other side each time, stronger and more resilient.”
Looking to the future, Lemon has big plans to continue its growth and leveraging technology is a key part of its business strategy, all the while ensuring that a personable, ‘human-to-human’ touch, remains a constant feature in future plans, despite the rise of AI. Real people having real conversations, is a key mantra for the company’s leadership team.
Martin added: “Our whole ethos is based around becoming a true extension of our clients’ business and this means having highly skilled operatives working supporting our clients and fully understanding their needs. Integrity has always been important to me and as a business we will continue to put integrity and people at the heart of everything we do.
“Despite being two decades in, I actually feel like we’re just getting started and we want to keep growing, keep creating jobs here in Teesside, and keep supporting our clients to provide the best possible service to their customers. We can’t do any of that without our wonderful team, and we will continue to offer support and provide opportunities to progress within the business so we can continue to be the best at what we do for many more years to come”