Q&A WITH JAMES BINNINGTON, PARTS CUSTOMER SERVICE SUPERVISOR
James Binnington is no stranger to the transport industry, having been an apprentice light vehicle mechanic; technical support manager for a diagnostic equipment company in the UK; parts manager for a transport company in the mining sector of Port Hedland; and now, at Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) as Parts Customer Service Supervisor.
Could you tell us a little about your background before IAL?
I had just finished high school with average grades; I just wasn’t motivated by the school environment. I then started as an apprentice light vehicle mechanic for a well-known automotive brand and realised, “There are interesting things out here!”
After four years completing the apprenticeship and working an additional year as a qualified technician, I started travelling. I worked at a summer camp in the USA for six months teaching kids how to skateboard—it was a pretty sweet job. I travelled around before deciding to move to the UK. I ended up working as a technical support manager for two years. After eventually getting sick of the long winters, I moved back to Australia.
After working a couple of jobs—of which one was in the mining sector in Port Hedland, where I worked for a transport company as parts manager. I then came across the job at IAL, and I started work here in 2015.
Why did you decide to move over to Isuzu?
I didn’t know much about Isuzu before coming here. All I’d had experience with was either very light vehicles or road trains. But John Plunkett (IAL National Parts Manager), who had come from another truck brand, told me, “It’s a really great company, there’s room for growth and they build great products.”
And from what I could see, it seemed like people tend to stay here for quite a long time. To me, that’s a pretty good indicator of what kind of company it is. I was looking to further my career, so I came to Isuzu and I’ve stayed because it’s been everything I expected and more.
What role did you start in, and how did your career progress?
I started in the Parts Support team as a Customer Service Officer and did that for three years, after which the Customer Service Supervisor vacancy came up and I eventually moved into it. My main role is to look after the Isuzu Parts support team, which provides technical support to all the dealers in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Dealers liaise with the customers, and we liaise with the dealers. I really love talking to people and building relationships with our dealer network, so it’s awesome that it’s my job.
What’s a typical day for you like at IAL?
I get here reasonably early, get a coffee, check my emails, go through items from yesterday and make sure they are all closed off. We run through the SalesForce portal—basically every email or phone call from the dealers or customers get logged on the SalesForce platform, with details and notes for each case. Sometimes, I sit in with the team and start answering the phones. I’ll have a few catchups with Parts management where we work through ongoing projects. Then I’ll liaise with the Parts Zone Managers to see what’s going on in their areas. This is one of the things I really like about IAL—you get something new every day.
What’s been the highlight of your career at Isuzu so far?
We did a parts and service conference earlier this year in Queenstown, New Zealand, with dealers from all over Australia. It was a memorable conference, and the first conference for me. I presented on what we were working on in the Parts team, which I really liked doing.
And being in Parts… Customer service goes beyond just that. In my experience if a customer has a bad experience, they’ll tell eight to ten people about it. And if a customer has a good experience, they’ll tell maybe two or three people.
So, we try to keep the experience as good as possible because it’s easier to lose an existing customer than it is to keep them for life. Here at Isuzu Parts, we aim to help dealers supply prompt, quality service to a customer. If we can’t get a particular part, we’ll do everything we can to help the customer out so that they can be back on the road in no time. The Isuzu product is very good, and we’re here to stand behind the product and provide the support when needed.