Nationwide Building Society wins award for excellence in training

Personnel
Today Awards 2001: The winner of the KnowledgePool award for excellence in
training was the contact centre training team from Nationwide Building Society.
Contact centre training manager: Ian McLarty.

What
they did

Head
of Nationwide Direct David Rigney has told the outside world that its sales
managers and advisers are not simply "order takers" – they want to be
proud of the advice they offer customers.

The
Nationwide’s "Can Sell Will Sell" programme for call centre sales
advisers was set up with this mission statement in mind by the contact centre
training team at Nationwide’s retail training group. Driven by the business
needs of the organisation, it set out clear learning objectives.

To
meet tough business targets sales managers had to change from an administrative
role to a coaching role and to confront, not avoid, difficult issues.

The
main features of the specially-designed course included face-to-face learning
in a training room where trainers showed the demanding behaviour required of
sales managers. Staff could see themselves on a video to view
their behaviour and spent time with their line manager discussing the course.

Between
September 2000 and April 2001 19 sales managers and 139 advisers were involved.

Why
they did it

In
April 2000 Nationwide Direct’s performance was felt to have low rates of
success – too many customers were not receiving the personal service that was
required. External consultancy, Minerva, was hired to work with Nationwide
trainers and with their help, tough business targets were set. These had the
aim of increasing sales on products like accident sickness and unemployment
insurance by 30 per cent.

Benefits
and achievements

By
April 2001 the improved business results were showing. The number of buildings
and contents insurance products being sold had increased by 33 per cent. The
training programme had helped increase mortgage sales as well, and the average
cost per sale had dropped by a half. Analysis shows that nearly £100,000 of
additional contribution to Nationwide’s profit had been made during the
seven-month programme.

"We
are proud of these results and believe they contradict any ‘sweat shop’
perception of call centres. Based on a coaching culture, we are confident the
learning will grow powerfully," says contact centre training manager Ian
McLarty.

Why
they won

"Nationwide
does not always see training as the solution to business problems but it has
certainly identified opportunities where training can really generate a
commercial advantage. Here is an excellent example of training systems and
processes that weld together commercial needs, operational realities and the
design of a well-blended training solution.
Judge: Paul Kearns senior partner, Personnel Works

Other
finalists

Lyreco
Training and development team

The
training and development team at office supplies company Lyreco responded to a
business need and introduced an innovative training programme for the team
leaders in its frontline customer service department. The firm estimates after
the three-day training course and follow-up days, productivity increased from
35.7 per cent to 42.2 per cent.

Foyle
Foods Group
Human resources development team

Following
acquisitions at Foyle Food Group over the past 10 years, a uniform training
standard – with the emphasis on career development – was introduced. The HRD
team had the task of communicating "a training culture" to new
employees, informing the affiliates about the training and development
programmes pioneered and refined by Foyle Meats.

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