Resource centre

This month’s reviewers are Graeme Cranfield, management development manager at BT, Thomas Dawson, training manager at International Life Leisure, Jo Somerset, training manager at Manchester City Council currently on secondment to the Prince’s Trust

Graeme Cranfield reviews

What is Motivation? A Guide to Theory and Practice

Video and support booklet

Price: video £120 plus VAT,

support booklet £25

From: TV Choice 0207-379 0873

My initial reaction as I played this video was that it fell into the category of “worthy but dull”, but as I watched on, its value and potential began to unfold.

The video is made up of archive film, mostly of people in the workplace, vox pop interviews with present-day workers and diagrams and text illustrating the main learning points. These are edited together with a voice-over reminiscent of geography films at school. This does not make for the most dynamic viewing experience, and after five minutes I wondered where the video was going and what central message it was seeking to deliver.

However, its effectiveness is cumulative. The video covers a lot of important ground in a neutral and non-judgmental way. In fairness, “it does exactly what it says on the packet” – motivation in theory and practice. It poses questions at key points, then leaves them unanswered, giving plenty of scope for participation.

The live interviews have a grainy credibility, both illustrating and sometimes contradicting the theory being illustrated which is again likely to provoke discussion. Recommendations for motivation and teamwork are kept simple and pragmatic.

As I watched, I began to see ways I would use it – stop here for discussion, fast-forward there, a syndicate exercise, and so on. Then I looked at the booklet of support literature (useful and comprehensive) and found a number of suggestions for doing just those things, including question lists to use.

Does the package represent value for money? At £120 the answer is probably yes. As a stand-alone teaching vehicle it would have weaknesses, but integrated appropriately as part of a broader and varied session it certainly has its strengths.

Jo Somerset reviews

Customers with Specific Needs

Video and activities pack

Price: £490

From: Echelon 0208-568 1500

Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act recently came into force, requiring organisations to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people to gain access to all their goods, facilities and services. So it is appropriate for a training pack to look at disability from a “rights” perspective rather than the well-worn charity approach. This is what Customers with Specific Needs does.

Starting with the social model of disability – “The disadvantages experienced by someone with a disability is caused as much by physical and attitudinal barriers as by their condition or impairment” – the pack progresses through a series of exercises to illustrate how frontline staff can welcome and meet the needs of disabled customers.

Each pull-out exercise lasts 10 to 20 minutes, produced on a folded, laminated A3 sheet. The accompanying video uses short scenes to illustrate several aspects of customer service as they apply to various groups of disabled people – visually or hearing impaired people, those with learning difficulties, mobility impairments and/or facial disfigurements.

While the focus on individuals’ particular conditions or impairments drifts away from the social model and into the medical model of disability, it is refreshing to find a positive slant on most of the scenarios depicted. We see a hotel room which is well-adapted for a wheelchair user, a deaf customer using a bank’s services with ease, and a shopmobility scheme. This is not to deny that problems and bad practice exist, but the starting point is what should  be done, rather than what has not been done.

The second half of the 30 activities broadens out the notion of customers with specific needs and addresses the important questions of first impressions and stereotyping with reference to elderly people, those who come from outside the UK, families with children and aggressive/ difficult people.

While positively integrating disabled people’s needs with those of customers from a diverse range of experiences, there is a danger of pigeon-holing anyone who is not part of the mainstream population, and the pack treats issues of culture, race and age in much less depth than they deserve.

The pack ends on an upbeat note with a board game which summarises its main messages. While there are some activities which I would not want to use as they smack of the old-style “special needs” approach, organisations should welcome this training resource as an aid in facing the challenge of overcoming their physical and attitudinal barriers to a large sector of the population.

One in four people in the UK is disabled or in a close relationship with someone who is, representing a market value in excess of £33bn, and any organisation would wish to attract customers from this sizeable market.

Thomas Dawson reviews

Phone Rage

Video training pack

Price: £795

From: The Industrial Society

0870 400 1000

In common with many call centres, reservations consultants at my company International Life Leisure can find themselves on the receiving end of calls from irate and sometimes abusive callers, so I was particularly interested in how the Industrial Society’s training package Phone Rage would set about tackling a vital, but often neglected, topic.

As colleagues in the call centre industry will know, absence of training in this crucial area can prove to be an expensive omission from the budget.

Phone Rage far exceeded my initial expectations. The training pack comprises a video, trainer’s guide and ready-to-copy pages for handouts and overhead slides. The video focuses on a day in the life of a call centre operator, which is cleverly illustrated by rewinding time – a kind of Groundhog Day approach to show the best way to handle a difficult call.

A word of warning: this video pulls no punches. Abusive language and terminology have not been watered down or bleeped out. Consequently, the film comes across as a credible representation of “real to life” situations and faces reality head-on.

Throughout the well-structured and informative video, there are a number of unexpected twists which, in addition to an ideal running time of 20 minutes, help to sustain the viewer’s attention and prove that a starstudded cast is not always essential for a quality production.

The comprehensive trainer’s guide is an invaluable tool which helps form the structure for a quality one-day programme. The subject of phone rage is looked at in some depth and will give delegates a good basic understanding of the subject as well as techniques for handling a raging caller. An added, and very valuable bonus, is that this resource would also give delegates a rare opportunity to express their feelings and emotions as recipients of phone rage calls.

This pack will prove an invaluable tool for any organisation which plans to train its staff on this topic. A seriously good video for a serious issue.

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