I have used the coaching skills and have been able to have the most constructive performance development conversations with my team ever. They loved it! Senior staff member, after attending the coaching programme

Resolving customer enquiries speedily and satisfactorily relies upon the skill and knowledge of our people. From a simple bill payment to a complex complaint, the customer’s experience is highly dependent on the professionalism of the colleague handling the issue.

Training is vitally important to keep colleagues’ skills up to date, especially as our business continues to evolve, and our ambitions for customer service become ever more demanding.

We have found in the past that a brief workshop or one-day training session is not enough. We needed a training programme that could be continually reinforced, and that we could own.

In December 2013, we commissioned external training experts to develop and deliver a bespoke coaching programme for our 100 senior leaders, team leaders and coaches. The training developed a toolkit of practical skills and techniques for senior staff, which they could then use to improve the performance of our 600 customer advisers, based at our Warrington and Whitehaven contact centres.

The programme featured 52 days of on-site mentoring support to hone the new skills in a day-to-day work environment - ensure a lasting legacy of self-sufficient, continuous improvement.

This ‘train the trainer’ approach has been very successful. In-house coaching and development support sessions for customer advisers have now increased by 400 a month, with extremely positive feedback from colleagues.

As we continue our journey to improve customer service, this on-going reinforcement of core skills will prove invaluable.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews