Mel Aked

Assistant Head of Claims

First4Lawyers, March 08, 2021

After graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in Law, Mel is yet another member of our team who knew they wanted to pursue a career in the law, but that life as a solicitor wasn’t for them. So, after taking a break from studying to work as a team leader in a hotel she decided to return to education and completed her Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School in Leeds.

“I really wanted to find a role that allowed me to use my legal knowledge, but also allowed me to help people, which is something I feel passionately about. So, when I saw the role advertised at First4Lawyers I knew this was something I really wanted to do.”

Mel joined First4Lawyers in November 2011 as a claims advisor, which presented a great balance between her two career interests. Since joining she has built her experience in personal injury claims, progressing into more senior roles within the team - resulting in her recent promotion to the role of assistant head of claims in November 2020.

“The claims handling team is growing all of the time. Our team is, naturally, client facing and it’s our role to be a first point of contact with customers, talk them through their enquiry, assess what they need and if it’s something our panel can help with and then allocate as appropriate. My role is to ensure that each member of the team is trained and equipped to handle the calls in the best possible way, and to the high standard we expect.

“One of the things I really like about First4Lawyers as a company is that they invest in their people, this is core to the company values. They have invested in me over the best part of a decade, and now I get to put it into practice and train advisers to deliver our renowned high levels of customer service. When you’re building a great team and you have the right people in the right positions it’s incredibly rewarding. The part of my role I love the most is seeing new team members start from new on their first day, then helping them grow into their roles and seeing what they can achieve.”

As a result of the pandemic, First4Lawyers switched to home-working in line with government guidance and to safeguard their employees. As newly promoted assistant head of claims, Mel reflects on the challenges she and the team faced: “We’ve all learned to adapt and made adjustments to ensure limited impact on clients. Our office is so full of life that for many of us working from home felt very quiet. Early on, we adopted virtual methods of communication to keep the team feeling connected so that they bring the same energy to the calls as when we’re all together. I’m really very proud of the team for that."

An unexpected consequence of the pandemic, Mel says, was the realisation that for some customers the First4Lawyers team might be the only contact someone had with the outside world that day. “It became apparent very early into the first lockdown that some customers had had no contact with another person that day because of the nature of isolating. Throughout, it’s been incredibly important that we show extra empathy for people in these difficult times. Our approach has always been to think about how we would want someone to respond if we were in their situation, and with everyone being impacted by the pandemic it has naturally been a common denominator creating a point of conversation to help advisors form a connection with the customer.”

And what of the year ahead? “We’re currently working with software support on developing a more bespoke IT system to enhance our flexibility, efficiency and customer service. The nature of our work means that our team is always ‘at the coal face’ so to speak, and therefore we are constantly learning and developing what we do to ensure that the customer experience is the best it can possibly be.”

“We’re also recruiting at the moment for a number of new adviser positions. It has always been the plan to make the team bigger and hopefully as we are on the home stretch of the pandemic, we’re ensuring that we’ll be in the best possible position for life post-pandemic, whatever form that takes.”

Away from the office Mel likes to unwind by packing up and heading into the countryside or to the coast and camping with her husband, five-year-old and miniature sausage dog, “to enjoy quality family time and freedom”.

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