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Our CEO Ruth Handcock talks customer service at Octopus Investments

Written by Ruth Handcock
14 Dec 2020 Reading time: 6 mins

The Financial Adviser Service Awards celebrate the service that companies, like Octopus Investments, give to financial advisers. More than 4,000 financial advisers vote each year and based on these votes, companies are given a rating of one to five stars.   

This year, Octopus Investments has been awarded five stars in the Investments category for the seventh year in a row. We’re thrilled to have also been chosen for the Outstanding Achievement Award, based on our consistently high performance over the past decade. 

To celebrate, Octopus Investments CEO Ruth Handcock, discusses what these awards mean to her and the company.  

Hi Ruth. It’s brilliant to hear Octopus Investments has been awarded five stars by the Financial Adviser Services Awards. What does this mean for Octopus Investments? 

It’s hugely meaningful. These awards are voted for by our customers, financial advisers, so it’s the clearest reflection we can get of how they feel about us. We’re so happy to hear they like what we’re doing. We can’t thank the advisers we work with and who voted for us enough. 

It also gives us faith that talking about customers internally creates a consistently positive experience. While we’d never claim to be perfect, we’ve always tried to treat our customers like members of the family – caring about how they feel as well as the products they buy – and I think this shines through. 

Octopus Investments won the Outstanding Achievement Award this year. What does this additional recognition mean? 

Financial services companies aren’t often renowned for their customer service. We’ve always wanted to fix this and do things differently since the first day of Octopus Investments. We want our customers to form an emotional connection to us, which is something you don’t usually find outside of retail brands. 

This award proves the way we treat our customers meets this high bar. It also means it isn’t temporary. People tend to get outstanding achievement awards when they’ve been consistent for years and years. Exceptional customer service runs deep within Octopus Investments and this award brings that to life. It’s part of all of us, in our DNA. It’s not just a strategy.  

We’re not done yet though. Sometimes outstanding achievement awards are given to people or companies who are retiring, and that’s definitely not us!  

How does winning these two awards make you feel? 

It makes me feel hugely proud of the team. Everyday, I see people going above and beyond for our customers. Sometimes this means working late to make sure we respond to someone on the same day. Other times it might be realising one of your customers is having a tough time and sending them something in the post to cheer them up. It might even be chasing down a colleague to get your customer an answer to something. I’m so glad all these things people in Octopus Investments do, every day, are being recognised.

How do you make sure you’re always giving the best customer service? 

There are some obvious techniques, such as talking about customers in virtually every meeting or reviewing every time we get it wrong and putting it right for next time. However, I think the overriding factor at Octopus Investments is our internal culture.  

We care deeply about making Octopus Investments a great place to work and go out of our way to regularly recognise brilliant contributions from colleagues. The ‘Grand Tentacle’ is our much-sought-after monthly prize! Everywhere in Octopus, you see people helping each other out, or making a huge effort for a colleague or volunteering for our charity foundation, Octopus Giving. This translates into customer service, too. I believe colleagues pay this forward and treat customers the same way Octopus treats them. 

Some of the stories that come out as a result are wonderful to hear. We’ve had people send customers tickets to a football game because they mentioned they were struggling to get out of the house. And someone took flowers to the grave of an adviser’s family member during lockdown because the adviser didn’t live close enough to visit. It’s these little gestures that show how much people at Octopus care. 

That does sound lovely. Is the team set up in a certain way to make it easier for them to help customers like this?  

We try to make sure that advisers always speak to the same set of people. If they ring up with a question, they’ll speak to someone they’ve spoken to before. It helps the Octopus team get to know the customers better and helps with context as well – our customers don’t have to explain the same thing again to a different person each time they phone us.  

We’ve made this happen by setting up a different team for each UK region, making sure each one has the right people in it to share knowledge about all our offerings. This means we can answer any questions quickly and thoroughly. 

It’s down to hiring the right people, too. The best people will give the best customer service. We’ve tried to create the kind of workplace where people are excited to work so we can attract the very best. Things like Octopus Giving help with this, as people who want to volunteer tend to want to help people in their day jobs as well. 

You mentioned Octopus Investments is nowhere near retirement. What plans do Octopus Investments have for the future? 

Everything centres on making sure all our customers can deal with us in the easiest way possible and in a way that suits them best. If that means over the phone, great. And where I think we can get ahead is by helping advisers work efficiently online too, if that’s easier for them. Just this year we’ve created the integrations that allow advisers to draw our valuations straight into their back-office systems, and that’s been brilliantly received. 

At the same time, we’re always broadening our products so we can cater to more investor needs. We recently launched a new investment product, and we’re looking for more ways to help our customers solve complex client problems. 

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