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Lemon Business Solutions, a leading business outsource partner based in Stockton, welcomed Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to its offices, as he came to thank the team for its support during the COVID crisis.

Mayor Houchen took a tour of the office to thank its senior leadership team and call centre operators for their hard work in establishing a business support line, designed to give advice and guidance to business owners in the region.

The firm was approached by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) in early March, following a referral from Mayor Houchen, who had stated he was impressed with the professionalism of the operation on a previous visit to its head office.

Lemon was asked to set up a contact centre support line in order to field and answer questions with regard to the government’s response and proposals for business in relation to coronavirus funding and support. The team was able to provide the service within 72 hours of the original request.

The lines remain open to continue to help businesses and the firm is in discussion to expand the service across the North East to support business leaders during the Brexit transition later in the year.

Martin Anderson, managing director at Lemon Business Solutions, said: “At outset there were very few knowns, however the TVCA had been working with the government, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and local authorities to put together a Q&A script which would be used by the operators to advise the callers. We also received daily updates and information which helped to form the backbone of the content of the information we provided to callers.

“Calls flooded in from day one, with business owners eager to gain advice and assistance with government support and funding available. Initially, we operated just in business hours, but we quickly saw a demand for out of hours support and took the decision with the TVCA to expand to full 24/7 coverage to better support Tees Valley businesses.

“To date, through the business support line, our operators have helped hundreds of Tees Valley business with their enquiries across a host of issues, from grant funding, furloughing, VAT, loans and business rates.

“It’s a testament to the hard work of our team that Mayor Houchen personally recommended us to set up the support line and we’re proud to have made such an important contribution to the region in a time of crisis.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “The management of the team did an absolutely fantastic job right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic outbreak. I was just blessed and thankful to find Lemon who do the exact thing that we needed right on our doorstep in the middle of Stockton.

“What we needed was a one stop shop where, as a local business, you could just pick up the phone, with a single phone number, and get the advice and support that they needed.”

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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