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Chloe Cottenham

Credit controller apprentice

About you:
I am 21 years old and have recently completed my Financial Services apprenticeship with BT. I am now a BT Credit Controller within BT Group Managed Collections in Crawley, West Sussex. My role is currently within the Openreach Collections team, working with large, high value telecommunication providers.

Your key duties and responsibilities:
I own the credit control responsibility for a number of Openreach customers and accountability for the debt levels including reduction of aged debtors and maximising the available cash position to mitigate this from becoming 30+ debts.

I do this by concentrating on building a good relationship with all my customers, answering any queries they may have which might stand as a barrier to payment. It’s also important for me to understand why my customers are paying us late and I look to educate them to understand that it is important for them to pay BT as a matter of priority as the services we provide allow them to undertake their day to day business. During my apprenticeship journey I started to realise that although I am contacting my customers for sensitive matters, I can still build a relationship with them and help them to change their long term payment habits whilst also using it as a tool to deliver good customer service and maximising my collectable cash, reducing debt and generally exceeding my KPIs.

Explain why you chose an apprenticeship:
I saw BT as a massive opportunity and an apprenticeship as a stepping stone for a long term career with the company. I knew college or university wasn't for me and I was never sure what I wanted to do as a career but I have ambition and determination to do well and recognised that BT give chances for career progression. As my journey continues, I am more and more excited to see what the future brings.

How you have benefited from your apprenticeship including your personal progression?
The training programmes that BT provides to their staff are extraordinary and really inspiring. Programmes such as ‘It’s Your Call’ and externally recognised programmes by the ICM (Institute of Credit Management) in which our team have won “In House Collections Team of the Year 2014”. These courses give an insight of what it is like to work for a big company and how to stand out as well as how to deliver the best customer service you possibly can.

I see myself as a competitive person and the apprenticeship programme has helped me to put the ambition I have into projects that matter. I have met a great bunch of people, both from my own team in Crawley but also in other teams all over the UK and I thank BT for introducing me to people with a wide range of personalities.

Since joining BT, my confidence has grown massively. This is because BT pushes you to your limits and you are put into situations that you would never believe you would be in. I have always found speaking in public a challenge and historically haven’t been the best. However, the opportunities BT provide really take you out of your comfort zone but at the same time help you to believe in yourself and control your nerves which results in a huge improvement when speaking in public. An example of this is when I travelled up to the BT Centre in London to present in front of my senior manager and MD of BT Group Billing & Collections Trafford Wilson, Shahzad Saleem MD of Cost transformation and their peers, to explain our team’s idea on our Challenge Cup project. I really wanted to put our idea across clearly to give our team the best chance of getting through to the next round so I put my nerves to the back of my mind and presented clearly and confidently. This is something I would never have dreamed of doing and I am thankful to BT for helping overcome my fear of public speaking!

Challenge cup is a fantastic opportunity and something I feel really passionate about. Anyone that works with BT is given the opportunity to think of an idea away from “business as usual” and create a project around this to improve a process or a product. You get to create a team with people all over BT in different departments to explain your idea. This competition is a big one for BT and really helps to expose your name around the company so I’d definitely suggest getting involved!

What do you consider your greatest achievements and future plans for your career?
I would say my biggest achievement since working with BT is having my name and case study shown on the BT Twitter and Facebook pages as well as on the BT Today website. I love a competition just like BT so when I was given the opportunity to put together a case study explaining my apprenticeship journey to date, I applied straight away! Lots of apprentices applied and I was shortlisted to the top five applications within BT meaning I had qualified to be “Apprentice Hero of the Day”. It was a proud moment when I woke up one morning, scrolled through my Facebook and saw my case study and photos all over the BT page!

For future plans, at the moment, I am happy where I am and gaining more experience in Managed Collections. Once I have gained more experience and know the job inside out, I’d like to venture into something different such as managing my own team. There are so many departments and opportunities within BT and I’m very excited for the future.

Overall, I am extremely proud of what I have achieved in a short amount of time and I am looking forward to new experiences and challenges.

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