Reaching for the stars

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 1 December 2013 in Interviews
Interviews

In our series on the winners of TJ’s 2012 Awards, Seun Robert-Edomi talks to Lifestyle Services Group, winner of the prize for best practice in learning transfer

An organisation that helped to improve the performance of its staff by focusing on four key principles of customer service was recognised at last year's TJ Awards.

Mobile solutions provider Lifestyle Services Group was the winner of the best practice in learning transfer category at the November 2012 awards, beating Atos Healthcare and Harrods to the gold prize.

The company was praised for its ROCK programme, a two-day training course that helped enable 1,100 employees to deliver excellent customer service to their clients.

Robert Terry, founder of The Kite Foundation and category judge, said: "ROCK has been a genuinely transformational intervention, changing both people and organisation."

With an increasingly competitive market, the challenge facing LSG was to make sure that it devised a strategy for delivering excellent customer service to its 8m customers, who make 140,000 calls to the company every month.

Through a review of its management information, it found that the number of customers calling in more than once was unusually high, while there was a low volume of first-call resolution by its agents.

To achieve its aim of happy customers, LSG took a two-pronged approach:

  • deliver customer excellence By implementing a new customer excellence programme for agents and empowering them to resolve issues immediately at the front line, LSG hoped to see a 5 per cent increase in customer satisfaction
  • improve employee satisfaction By linking the delivery of customer excellence with a new employee performance scheme, it hoped to see a 90 per cent employee satisfaction level.

A survey of its stakeholders revealed that customer dissatisfaction and call backs were caused by:

  • customers not always understanding the terminology used by agents
  • agents not being empowered to resolve issues without approval from a higher level
  • a lack of guidance about what was needed to deliver a great customer experience
  • a lack of incentive to deliver a great customer experience.

LSG's board wanted a strategy that would deliver an approach that would maintain long-term customer and employee relationships.

As a result of this, the ROCK two-day training programme was formed, centring around four key principles:

  • respect I will always treat you as an individual, making sure that you are treated fairly
  • ownership I will listen, make sure I have understood and take ownership to resolve your query
  • clarity I will set clear expectations with you, meet them and, where possible, I will exceed them
  • knowledge I will use my knowledge and expertise to help and support you.

To ensure the programme was implemented smoothly, a number of pre-project tasks were carried out. This included doing trials of the activities planned, which were then reviewed with senior management. Two project leads were appointed with responsibility for planning and learning transfer, while there was someone for learners to approach if they had any problems.

As a result of the programme, the training scored an average of nine out of ten in the learning feedback results, with learners describing it as "effective, engaging, motivational training". There has subsequently been a 7.5 per cent increase in customer satisfaction, with 95 per cent now saying they are happy with the service that they are provided. Employee satisfaction also improved, scoring 97 per cent.

Terry said: "Lifestyle Services Group's ROCK programme is an outstandingly well-designed initiative that not only delivered the learning and business outcomes that were sought but has also had an enduring, beneficial impact on key organisational processes and tools."

Joanna Gower, L&D manager at LSG, said: "I was gobsmacked to have won. We are not a big company but it was great to be recognised and shows it's not all about the size of the firm. Winning the award also shows us that the approach we have taken to training is the right one, and we are delighted to have won.

"We're continuously looking to improve and it's given us a great benchmark to work from. Everything has to now meet this standard at the very least."

According to Gower, the variety in the delivery was a key factor in helping to make the programme innovative.

"For our industry, it was quite modern and as far as I'm aware, no similar company has done anything like it," she said.

"We acted out different scenarios, designed a game to embed the ROCK principles in the minds of learners and also followed up with synergy workshops and e-learning to keep knowledge fresh."

For organisations looking to do a similar initiative, it's important to keep pushing employee training so that you can achieve customer excellence.

"We have a lot of internal talent and we use their skills to try and better ourselves in everything we do. All our foundations are built on solid ROCK. Respect, ownership, clarity and knowledge should be central to corporate culture for all businesses.

"We are continually pushing forward employee training, empowerment and satisfaction to deliver a great customer experience," Gower concluded.

For more on this year's awards, visit www.trainingjournal.com/awards/

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