Our client, United Utilities, is the “go-to” supplier of water to the North-West of England, with a contact centre based in Cumbria that is dedicated to managing billing enquiries, payments and account information.
At this time, United Utilities were experiencing a decline in agent “call quality scores” based on internal coaching assessments. The downward trend required a re-imagining of the learning material both for immediate interaction and sustainable improvement.
“Keeping Customers at the Heart” was the title of the programme that Davies Learning Experiences developed for United Utilities. This customer-centric mindset shift was the foundation on which all programme components were based. It was vital to the success of the programme that the principles of accelerated learning were followed to ensure agents learned as much as possible during the formal learning interaction. With participants being from a wide range of age groups, the material was crafted in a way that made engagement fun and interactive for all.
Davies Learning Experiences embarked on a two-day, on-site analysis to understand the roles and the training needs fully. An accelerated learning programme called ‘Pulse8’ was conceived which took the ‘Heart’ concept into a new medical theme. The focus of Pulse8 was the eight skills and behaviours crucial to customer service, these included: Listening, Confident Communication, Ownership, Proactivity, Initiative, Rapport, Accuracy and Respect.
At Davies Learning Experiences, we pride ourselves on learning innovation and this was the case with our United Utilities programme design. The standard PowerPoints were banished; learning was created and reviewed using printed jigsaws, recorded audio, creating posters, unscrambling anagrams and competitive team quizzes instead.
The listening exercises were ”gamified” and involved participants working in pairs, with one person holding a stick on which to spin a coloured plastic plate, and the other person reading a set of non-work-related facts from a list. After three minutes of listening (and plate spinning), the spinner would be given two minutes to recall as many facts as they could and was awarded one point for every fact they accurately recalled. A note would be made of the score before the pair would change roles and begin again with a different fact card.
This exercise was both memorable for the learners and directly related to building the skills of listening, communication and accuracy (three of the crucial customer service skills identified in Pulse8). Participants could experience firsthand that ”listening to the customer” was their priority and system navigation was secondary.
Following the completion of the programme, the target of a 20% increase in call quality was exceeded with agents consistently scoring 100%. Follow-up coaching over the coming months ensured this was sustained and the new learning became embedded for new joiners and maintained for existing agents.
Feedback from team managers included:
• “Two of our team members have attended Pulse8 this week and have said they feel a real benefit and said they feel a lot more confident handling calls. I have done two side-by-side call qualities on each of them this afternoon and have seen a massive improvement, they both scored 100% twice and seem to have a new outlook and really positive attitude.”
• “I have just completed three side-by-side call qualities on one of our team members and they scored three consecutive 100%! This is an amazing achievement for them – also two out of the three calls were not standard queries and ones I would class in the more difficult call category, which they handled well.”
United Utilities programme sponsor concluded:
“Based on my initial observations, evaluations and feedback, the design of the Pulse8 course and delivery by Davies Learning Solutions have both met and exceeded my requirements.”
The “Keeping Customers at the Heart” theme created a culture and mindset shift at United Utilities that yielded measurable business results. The eight skills and behaviours of the Pulse8 programme became embedded into the United Utilities’ ways of working and was rolled out to an additional 5000 employees across the organisation.