Coaching works

Kwik-Fit Insurance Services has dramatically cut recruitment costs and staff turnover.

The business

Established in 1995, Kwik-Fit Insurance Services (KFIS) was set-up to meet consumer demand for competitively priced motor cover and encompasses a large call centre based at Uddingston, near Glasgow.

The group employs 800 staff who work in both inbound and outbound call centre departments. In addition to motor insurance, the company also offers household and travel cover through a panel of more than 20 insurers. The business now has more than 250,000 motor and 20,000 household policyholders.

Experiencing a staff turnover of 50 per cent in 2000, the group has since made significant increases to employee retention and financial profits by implementing a series of ‘Craving for Coaching’ workshops.

The challenge

Faced with an influx of new call centres in central Scotland, the group had to take action to prevent employees from moving to other businesses, while at the same time recruiting more people for its expanding enterprise. The group reports that it was spending £5,000 to recruit each of its 100 new staff members every year – a sum that took a major chunk from profits.

“The high staff turnover meant our seven-strong HR team was spending too much time recruiting new staff rather than training and developing existing employees,” says HR director, Keren Edwards.

“Customer complaints were also increasing due to work apathy and poor staff performance caused by so many people leaving the group.”

The challenge was to adopt a consistent approach to managing staff performance based on improving output rather than seeking to punish poor performers.

The company required its team leaders to adopt an advising, guiding and coaching role rather than a ‘firefighting’ or ‘bossing’ role. This led to the introduction of the Craving for Coaching programme – a scheme which required the appointment of a coaching champion or team leader trainer.

Team leaders undergo coaching to:

  • learn a consistent and structured coaching methodology.
  • use their coaching skills to improve individual performance and productivity.
  • change their behaviour in relation to adopting positive rather than negative communication.
  • use different questioning techniques and learn about personality types to improve their own coaching skills.
  • improve individual performance by giving feedback in a constructive manner.
  • gain an understanding of how the business is aiming to change the organisation culture.

The outcome

The main measurement used to gauge the success of the Craving for Coaching programme was sales per hour worked (SPH). And in the programme’s first two years of operation, the group claims SPH increased by 15 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

“Our team leader role has lost its instructing bias and changed to one which motivates, coaches and guides team members,” says training manager, Tracey Smith. “Staff performance issues are now dealt with promptly and consistently between departments, which ensures employees are treated equally.”

Further benefits of the programme include a 40 per cent increase in ‘quote to connect’ rates in one of the household insurance teams over a three-month period, while the group reports staff job satisfaction is also higher. In addition, staff turnover reduced by over 12 per cent from 2001 to 2002, meaning that 84 fewer staff needed to be recruited, resulting in a £470,000 saving in training and recruitment costs.

By shifting the team leaders’ management skills from a reactive to a proactive focus, Edwards claims staff are more confident in their jobs through better coaching rather than having to ‘hard sell’ all the time.

“A new discipline has been brought to the management of poor performers,” says Edwards. “These people have demonstrated dramatic improvements on the strength of this coaching. Improvements in the pricing department have seen productivity increase by 40 per cent over three months.”

She adds that team leaders are now able to communicate more effectively with their staff and having a greater understanding of their needs, such as flexible working hours.

Thanks to higher staff retention, Edwards says the HR team members have a lot more time at their disposal, which has given them the opportunity to improve the quality of their own work.

Learning points for HR

  1. Measure the effectiveness of a programme by the staff’s job satisfaction and not just by performance
  2. Measure staff contentment to gauge the success of a programme
  3. Make the coaching as simple and human as possible. Team leaders will not want to spend too much time being bogged down by red tape which could otherwise be spent managing their staff

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