Verbatim founder Graham Hill’s lightbulb moment came in 1997 when he was running a directory distribution business.
A previously hard-to-reach client revealed that they had outsourced their calls to a reception service.
This sparked an idea that evolved into Verbatim, a telephone answering service, set apart by its levels of customer service.
The business has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
Long-standing employee Ann Davidson remembers being part of a team of six, sat around a group of desks with phones and notebooks and a fax machine in the corner.
“In the early days things were not very high tech but we did the job well and our clients were pleased,” she said.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary in business, the company boasts a relaxed and friendly office on Greenham Business Park, complete with state-of-the-art technology.
For Mr Hill, customer service is the first and last line of defence in this competitive industry.
He said: “This is why our offices comprise of great acoustics, natural lighting and an open-plan set up.
“We like our employees to feel comfortable and happy.
“The lack of obvious call centre trademarks guarantees callers are managed in a friendly manner, often oblivious to the fact that they are speaking with an outsourced team.”
Despite expansion and an increase in both staff and clients, some things will never change at Verbatim, including the consultative approach the business has always taken towards its clients.
Mr Hill said: “A client has to have a lot of trust in a company to place their customer calls in our hands.
“We provide a bespoke service, which is not something you can buy off the shelf.
“This is what sets a great business apart.
“We had a local client who called one morning to say the roof of their offices had collapsed.
“We reacted immediately, diverting all calls to our team, who exclusively handled them for the next three months.
“It was paramount for them to give their customers a business as usual service while they got back on their feet.
“A service that undeniably allowed their business to survive.”
Gary Perkins, from MAS Ltd, a client since 1998, confirms that Verbatim is integral to his business.
He said: “When we experienced a lightning strike, taking out our systems, Verbatim quickly stepped in to take all our calls.
“By giving our customers the service they were used to, they gave us the time we needed to source and install new equipment.”
While insisting that this personal approach has allowed Verbatim to stand above the rest, there are a number of principles it has kept to over the last 20 years.
Nick East, director of operations, said: “New businesses should invest well and always buy the best to suit their needs, whilst financially planning for future developments.”
This also extends to the use of resources.
“In the first few years it is imperative to spend your time working on your business and building relationships,” said Mr East.
“There are only so many hours in the day and they should be spent wisely, not on tasks that would be better handled elsewhere.
“If things can be outsourced effectively, then they should be.”
Looking ahead to the next 20 years, the company will continue to innovate, with the launch of a new software expected in early 2018.
“Most of our future plans evolve around the businesses we answer calls for and supporting their growth without increasing overheads,” said Mr Hill.
Verbatim appreciates the industry is changeable and it is continually reviewing and planning, however there a number of things it is certain about.
Mr Hill said: “We have built strong relationships locally and the business will always be based in Newbury.
“Trust, humour, flexibility, care and courtesy are the core values of Verbatim and they will never change.”