Meet the OSPRI Contact Centre Team

Date 24 May 2019

Laura Ryan has been part of the OSPRI Contact Centre since 2015, building long-term relationships with farmers. A regular at most OSPRI extension events, Laura is an expert on deer related issues.

What is your background?
I’m Wellington born and bred and have been working at the OSPRI Contact Centre for four years. I’ve had stints part-time and full-time and recently completed a Commercial Law and Marketing degree at Victoria University.

Have you had any previous experience working in the primary sector?
I did work before with MPI’s Exotic Pest and Disease unit in a similar contact centre role and that got me particularly interested in biosecurity.

The NAIT and TBfree programmes are broad, what do you specialise in?
I generally look after all deer related issues. As part of my role, I regularly liaise with the OSPRI National Disease Manager and help plan and coordinate NAIT events with the OSPRI extension team. I’m also part of a committee that organises staff trips to get out on-farm, so we can better understand and learn about the challenge’s farmers face around NAIT and TBfree management.

What in your opinion, makes the OSPRI Contact Centre different than others?
I believe we are less rigid than other places who have certain processes and protocols which perhaps makes them seem less human. For me, it’s about providing a service which is personable and not condescending. Farmers are unique in the way they go about things and it helps if you can talk to them without coming across as being pushy or authoritative.

The Contact Centre has been exceptionally busy with NAIT re-registration?
This has been challenging for all the team. Please be patient with us, we really do want to help! The volume of calls lately has been quite overwhelming, up 300 percent compared to earlier in the year. We obviously want to answer every call and help farmers get their accounts sorted and we are working through the queries best we can in the circumstances. The Contact Centre is to be expanded soon with 10 more staff, so that should ensure we resume prompt service for farmers. I do recommend NAIT users check out our stand at Fieldays, as we’ll have a prototype of what the future NAIT system might look like.

What gives you the most satisfaction about your role?
I take pride in helping farmers who are not computer savvy enough to meet what is essentially their legal requirements. The majority want to do the right thing but aren’t sure or don’t have the skills. I’ve also developed and built relationships with certain farmers over time and they can call me directly or I’ll arrange for the Extension team to visit them. Sometimes after helping a farmer, they might not have immediately hung up the phone, and you will hear them saying to someone else that you had been so helpful and fixed their issue- that is nice to hear.

Do you have a message for farmers?
Remember we aren’t compliance people! We are here to help and the service we provide does not end after the initial first phone call. It’s really encouraging to know our reputation has improved among farmers. I’ve personally heard and met farmers that said they used to be anxious about calling us - but not anymore.

How do you unwind after a busy day helping farmers?
I play squash competitively and have won a few tournaments recently. My other interest is boxing, I don’t get in the ring, but I’m a southpaw and do enjoy the training.

Laura Ryan website

Laura Ryan

Dan first joined the contact centre team in 2015. Now in his second spell, he has continued building expertise in disease management, working alongside area disease managers and case managers out in the field.

How long have you worked with the OSPRI Contact Centre?

This is my second spell. I started back in 2015 and returned in February this year to work with the newly formed Disease Support team.

Have you had any previous experience working in the primary sector?

Before joining OSPRI, I worked for over two years with FarmsOnline in their disease response team. I’m actually a builder by trade but a hand injury meant I can no longer work with tools safely.  I do miss being outdoors, but that experience has helped me appreciate the challenges farmers face especially with the weather and getting things done.

Disease control is a broad area,what do you specialise in?

TB reactors is my expertise.  I work in small team and we are first port of call for area disease managers and case managers seeking permits or if farmers need to be contacted about a herd’s blood test showing up as a positive.

How do you approach that engagement with farmers?

It’s never good news to tell a farmer one of his animals has returned a positive blood test for TB.  There is no easy way to do this other than listen and empathize- you don’t really know what kind of day they’ve had beforehand. You can bring some perspective by advising them there is still a post mortem to go through and the outcome might not be so bad.

OSPRI Contact Centre has recently moved and has additional operators, how is that going?

I like the changes, there’s more space on the new floor and now more people to answer phones and help with callers. I know farmers are too busy to be left on hold, and the 10 new operators have made a difference and got our response rate back to where it should be.

What gives you the most satisfaction about your role?

Getting on top of TB is really satisfying. When you see the number of herds reducing, you know you are helping to make a difference for farmers and the wider industry. Also, working with area disease managers and case managers closely, you can hear at first-hand that we are moving in the right direction towards TB eradication in cattle. Field day events are especially good to get out the contact centre and get ‘amongst it’ and meet farmers.

Do you have a message for farmers?
We’re not here to interrogate, we’re here to help. If you need to get your NAIT account up to date, please give us a call. Something you’ve been stewing over for a few months can be probably fixed in five minutes.

How do you unwind after a busy day helping farmers?
I don’t play active sport these days after I had surgery to fix a punctured lung. I like hanging out with family and friends and shooting some Pool or reading thriller novels.

Dan White website

Dan White