We kick off the ‘meet the team’ series with an interview with Beth Hartman who is a key member of the consumer services team and therefore someone who many consumers and member businesses have had regular contact with.
Firstly, tell us more about your role at the Ombudsman?
I’ve been with the Ombudsman for over five years and joined after completing two work experience placements, the first in year ten and the second, once I’d finished my A-levels.
I applied for work experience at Dispute Resolution Ombudsman (DRO) as I wanted to explore a career in the legal sector. During those two weeks, I helped the team to process applications and started to monitor the info@ inbox. It gave me a great insight into the work of the Ombudsman, and I decided to apply for a full-time job as soon as a position came available.
Day to day, working in the consumer services team I speak with businesses and consumers who call into the Ombudsman, I then direct their call or help them with their enquiry.
I also lead on the admin for the independent inspections that are carried out by an external company and process all the bookings we receive on our training courses.
What do you enjoy the most in your role?
No two days are alike in my job and I think that’s what I enjoy the most. The consumers I speak with all have different stories and reasons for coming to the Ombudsman and even though some calls are difficult, I learn from every situation and apply new skills and techniques on the next call.
There are also opportunities to attend City & Guilds accredited training, which is run by our Deputy Chief Ombudsman, Judith Turner. So far, I’ve attended a two-day course in Consumer Law and a one-day course on GDPR. Since 2020 we have also hosted bi-weekly webinars, one of which on ‘How to handle difficult calls’ I’m looking forward to attending when it’s next held.
Although in my role, the majority of time I’m answering calls from consumers, I really enjoy speaking with members about training and to businesses who are looking to join the Ombudsman and hearing the reasons they want to become members.
What’s changed in the last five years
It’s been a busy few years for the Ombudsman!
The Rail Ombudsman was established in 2018 which was exciting, I really enjoyed seeing the scheme grow from an idea to a working Ombudsman in just a few months. The time and effort that the team put in was incredible and I feel proud to be a part of it.
Then more recently, we rebranded from the Furniture Ombudsman to the Furniture & Home Improvement Ombudsman. With a new website, logo and a fresh colour palette - these changes really reflect the organisation we are now.
In the past five years, we’ve also moved twice. This current office is light, bright and is home to many a pool and table tennis competitions.
What do you foresee for the Ombudsman in the next five years?
The Ombudsman has grown so much in the past five years, it difficult to comprehend what the organisation could look like in 2026.
I would like to see an Ombudsman in more sectors, giving even more consumers the opportunity to access binding redress.
I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the team to further develop our application process for consumers to ensure they have a seamless and positive experience regardless of their case outcomes.