Five minutes with…Trafford Wilson, Executive Director of Customer Experience at The Guinness Partnership

Five minutes with…Trafford Wilson, Executive Director of Customer Experience at The Guinness Partnership
Published: 6 June 2022

In our latest ‘Five minutes with…’ interview, Housing Lead, Tom Neely spoke with Trafford Wilson, Executive Director of Customer Experience at The Guinness Partnership. Trafford joined Guinness in August 2019 and is responsible for Guinness delivering great service to their customers across all channels. Trafford joined Guinness after 12 years at BT, during which he led both the customer contact and field service teams. As we partner with Trafford and the team at Guinness on the recruitment of a new Director of Housing and Neighbourhoods, we sat down with him to discuss his move into the sector and the type of leader he is looking to bring into this senior role.

Tell me a little bit about your career to date?

I started my career as an Offshore Engineer but pretty quickly decided that I would target a move into Finance based in London. Early on in my career, I was given large staff management responsibility which I really enjoyed.  I was able to run some pretty big Finance Operations, managing Billing and Collections for two major Telecommunications companies. To widen my experience and the role size, I then moved onto running B2B Customer Services at BT which I really enjoyed, eventually leaving after over a decade.

You joined Guinness after a successful career in the commercial sector, what attracted you to Guinness and the sector?

With the skill set I built working in Customer Service, for instance continuous process improvement and CRM implementation, I really wanted to put these to use in a sector with real purpose and impact. I have found Housing equally interesting and challenging. There are so many issues to consider, and I enjoyed developing strategies to meet these challenges at Guinness where I have received superb support and experienced real teamwork. 

As we have moved out of the pandemic, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for the Housing Sector?

Post pandemic, there is a social change in how people live their lives. For instance, how and where they work, how they shop, and how they gain education has shifted materially on-line.  In my view the way we deliver services, communicate, and engage with our customers is a big opportunity within Housing. Equally it is also a challenge to ensure we maintain appropriate channels to support customers living outside of this social change. Guinness has been a great place to develop this, and we have really improved our CRM and operating model to keep ahead for instance.

By contrast, what do you see as the key challenges for the sector and how are you addressing these?

There are a range of challenges, from the changes to the labour market post Brexit, rising to challenges of the social housing white paper, moving to cloud computing, or working in a hybrid model. It’s stimulating to work in a dynamic sector and our approach at Guinness is systematic, using best practice methodologies like lean or agile to ensure we meet the challenge. 

What are the key traits that you are looking for in your new Director of Housing and Neighbourhoods?

I am really looking forward to bringing in someone who is keen to achieve really optimal service delivery, standardised where appropriate and bespoke for those who need it, and always guided by the data. 

What have been the biggest influences on your leadership style throughout your career?

I’ve really benefited from having management experience at an early stage which has helped me test and learn. My style is to also give people responsibility, but to support them but ensuring that they have the tools and resources to be successful.

If you are interested in hearing more about Guinness' plans and the Director of Housing and Neighbourhoods role, do get in contact with Tom Neely. Tom Neely is focused on recruiting senior management and leadership roles across Social Housing providers.

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