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The impact of leadership training and development on frontline staff and customers


We have learnt from first-hand experience the impact leadership training can have on, not only frontline staff, but the overall customer experience. This is a business concern we recently addressed within our own company and the results have been staggering. I’d like to share our learnings with you in this blog post.

The Business Case

We are passionate about career development, therefore the majority of our Call Centre Managers, Team Leaders and Quality Assessors started at Mindpearl as call centre agents. This strategy has been very successful over the last 15 years ensuring longevity of staff, employee loyalty and engagement. However, when our business experienced rapid growth during the course of 2014, we just weren’t able to develop individuals fast enough.

The individuals who moved into leadership roles during this period, were not receiving adequate training support, therefore they had the potential to not be supporting the front line staff in the best way possible. If front line staff are not supported, the customer experience will inevitably be impacted. Feedback from the middle managers was they felt ‘squeezed’ from below and above and they just weren’t equipped to deal with the demands placed on them. In addition, they didn’t understand the ‘bigger picture’, as they were purely focused on their own accounts/call centre team and lacked integration as a group.

The Challenge

It soon became apparent, that intervention was needed. Thus the Customer Service Leadership Development Program was designed and implemented. The participants are the ‘middle management’ level within the organization. The aim is to develop and empower Team Leaders, Quality Analysts, and Call Centre Managers to become the best leaders for their teams, enabling them, in turn, to empower their teams to provide excellent customer service and to promote best practice, unity and consistency on a global level.

The challenge was to create a “layer” of training support across the business that was relevant to multiple products/customers. (For example: We may have a team leader from an airline account, a quality analyst from a collections account, a sales manager from direct sales and a team leader from a freight service account all in the one session.) We also had to deliver this training in a global, 24/7 environment as we operate in a very dynamic environment where business never stops, so minimum business interruption was a priority.

Needs Analysis

After a Global Training Needs Analysis we identified 12 key areas that our leaders needed support and development in. Consequently we created a curriculum consisting of 12 modules, covering the key areas we identified during the needs analysis.

Implementation:

    • Each module is 1 hour long; this enables the work environment to continue to run smoothly as an individual is only away from their team for 1 hour at a time, and can select their preferred time slot
    • Each module is repeated 9 times per week, with a “catch-up session” the following week
    • The 12 modules are repeated 4 times each year to ensure consistency and continued development
    • To ensure the modules remain fresh and engaging, the session title and objectives stay the same, but the delivery method, activities and notes are different from previous sessions

The Outcomes

The benefit to our customer service/front line agents has been remarkable. With Team Leaders and Quality Analysts supporting the agents to be switched on, engaged, listening and empathetic with their customers our overall call quality rose drastically.

Hands on practical training sessions have given our Leaders the skills to turn an unhappy customer into a customer for life.

One of the unexpected benefits of the training programme has been the strengthening of relationships across the organisation at this level. As a group, the participants have identified similar positions in other areas and have used that as a resource for collaboration in working smarter and engaging best customer service practices.

We have not only experienced a happier workforce, but we have experienced tangible results in all areas of our operation including staff retention, workforce optimisation, retention of key skills, lower attrition, higher levels of responsiveness and uptime, increase in customer satisfaction, increased efficiency and longevity of our client relationships.

The ‘aha’ moments:

As a business we have learnt that the Leadership and Development training of our middle management, not only Call Centre Managers and Team Leads, but also our Quality Assessors is the missing link that can drive all areas of our business in the right direction.

Leaders and managers set the context within which the organisation’s members strive for excellence and work together to achieve organisational goals. Leadership helps shape culture, culture in turn shapes leadership and they both drive performance. Don’t underestimate the influence leaders and managers have on the performance of their teams and, ultimately, your organisation!

Author: Ingo Schulz | 20 Februar 2015