Meet the OSPRI Contact Centre Team
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.