Bank fulfills strategic initiative for exceptional customer service across widely dispersed locations
Heritage Bank has been creating financial solutions and building lasting relationships with their customers since 1927. Recently the bank identified "Exceptional Customer Service" as one of their strategic initiatives. The goal was to develop exceptional customer service, both externally (for their customers) and internally.
The challenges included delivering the training for all 750 employees within the first year, despite the bank never previously having a customer service training program. In addition, the employees were widely dispersed across 65 branches across the Pacific Northwest, making traditional classroom training unfeasible. The bank wanted to use a blended learning approach to maximize learning retention by incorporating virtual instructor-led training with follow-up reinforcement activities that would be managed centrally and implemented locally.
Heritage Bank wanted one common, foundational program to meet the needs of internal and external staff. Because they had a short timeframe in which to train their employees and they did not have an existing program, they decided to "buy" versus "build" the solution. The need to offer a facilitator-led training program delivered virtually led them to NetSpeed Learning Solutions. The company's customer service program Blazing Service™ is both modular and easily customizable to reflect the bank's standards and culture.
As a more general goal, the bank wanted to begin moving their training from the classroom to online to improve efficiency and reduce costs, preparing trainers for more virtual delivery beyond customer service training. NetSpeed Learning Solutions enjoys a reputation as an industry leader in training designers and facilitators for virtual training. Heritage Bank took advantage of NetSpeed Learning's Certification Process for internal trainers, which certifies them to facilitate virtually for all future instructor-led virtual training projects, not just Blazing Service.
Heritage worked to ensure they continued to have executive level support for the training. With each module, they invited the executives to participate in the learning first, as both a preview and way to help them reinforce key messages and follow-up. Executives also promote the training through “all-employee” calls.
Heritage noted these strategies for success:
- Get executive alignment on the overall business outcomes first
- Incorporate executives in the early deliveries so they can reinforce and support new skills
- Position training as a strategy to achieve strategic initiatives and objectives
- Partner with a company that “gets” virtual delivery
Heritage Bank reports excellent feedback on the course content and on the application of learning points, with an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5. They increased their Net Promoter Score from 30 up to 50, and attribute a large share of the increase to the Blazing Service training. They achieved their implementation goal by successfully rolling out the program across a wide geographic region, within a month of their trainer certification workshop. They point to the Blazing Service program as helping them achieve the strategic objective of delivering “Exceptional Customer Service”. They were delighted to achieve their target of training all 750 employees in less than one year, without incurring the costs of travel and time away from the job to attend face-to-face training. In addition, the training team is now delivering additional virtual learning programs leveraging the virtual training skills they developed through the certification program.
Multinational hotel chain revamps their customer engagement program for greater focus on interpersonal skills
One of the world’s largest hotel chains (with over 3,500 properties in 72 countries) realized that their 24 customer engagement centers’ orientation programs were disjointed and missing the mark. They were bringing new customer service representatives (CSRs) onsite for a comprehensive, new hire orientation program which focused primarily on how to use the phone system and the reservation software to respond to customer calls within corporate policies. While that approach had served them in the past, they realized they weren’t providing the kind of customer experience that would increase customer loyalty and retention.
As competition in the hotel industry has increased, customers have become ever more demanding. The senior director, in charge of training 8,000+ associates at customer engagement centers around the globe, realized that their new hire orientation program needed to be completely revamped to include a much greater focus on interpersonal skills in addition to technical skills. They wanted CSRs to respond with empathy, warmth, and authenticity while they tackled the challenging problems and situations that would arise in the call centers. The timeframe was tight as she wanted to revamp the program, pilot it, train their trainers to deliver it, and roll out the new program in less than six months. Compounding the need for enhanced customer service skill development was the integration of a new hotel chain into their call center system.
This hotel chain reached out to NetSpeed Learning Solutions. They selected Blazing Service™ because it encompassed the interpersonal skills and practices identified as critical to meeting the needs of their customers. The six-module program was licensed and customized, in collaboration with their internal instructional designers. They were able to rebrand it to reflect the hotel’s branding and quickly incorporated Blazing Service training into their new hire orientation program. The NetSpeed Learning Solutions team certified 20 of their trainers up front, through a customized online certification workshop, and worked with the hotel’s designated Master Trainer to prepare her to certify other trainers internally as the program was fully implemented.
In the future, they envision the orientation program being delivered online instead of in-person. Because they recognize that they will move aspects of the new hire orientation from the face-to-face classroom to the virtual learning environment, they were excited to see that the program was available in two versions, one for the traditional classroom, and one for the virtual classroom. They plan to train their trainers to deliver the program virtually through the Virtual Facilitator Trainer Certification program.
The senior director was pleased that her internal team was able to partner with the NetSpeed Learning Solutions’ team to ensure that the program was seamlessly integrated into their new hire orientation program. The internal training team met their ambitious deadline for introducing the new approach to onboarding their CSRs. The program pilot successfully demonstrated the value of the interpersonal training. Their certified trainers are now delivering the program in multiple geographic regions as new CSRs come on board. They have achieved consistency across their global call center systems while at the same time, allowing trainers to tailor the program for their geographic areas. The senior manager in charge of the project praised the NetSpeed Learning Solutions team for their flexibility and outstanding client support.
Customer Service Initiative Creates a Customer-centric Culture
XO Communications, a leading provider of telecommunications services to businesses and carriers, offers a broad portfolio of network and IP services through a unique combination of nationwide metro and wireless networks. The company serves over 90,000 customers across 75 major metropolitan areas within the U.S., and earns over $1 billion in annual revenue. When their 2008 Sales and Operations Summit resulted in an initiative to differentiate their business from the competition by offering spectacular customer service, they turned to NetSpeed Learning Solutions to help them launch a program that would not only provide cutting-edge customer service skills, but also establish a dynamic, customer-centric culture across their entire company.
XO Communications selected Blazing Service, NetSpeed Learning Solutions’ customer service training program, which develops exceptional customer service skills, helps increase customer satisfaction, and improves customer retention. “With a disbursed workforce and offices spread out nationwide, we already use web conference delivery extensively, so Blazing Service, with its 90-minute online customer service training modules and web-based reinforcement tools was a natural choice for us,” says Jean Clark, Senior Program Manager – Customer Care. Blazing Service’s content focuses on interpersonal skill development and problem-solving techniques critical to customer service success. Each session builds upon the last, and material is delivered in manageable bites so that information can be absorbed and skills practiced before new content is added. The program comes with a variety of tracking and measurement tools to help administrators monitor deployment and measure the impact of training. “The way the program is structured and the relevancy of the content is especially exciting for us. It focuses on life skills, helps employees get to know themselves better, and teaches the basics of how to relate to others. We’re getting feedback from across the entire organization that people are excited about this, actively applying what they learned, and they’re using it not only with our customers, but with their own internal customers, too.”
“As a result of the customer service training, we now have a common language to use when we speak about service excellence,” says Clark. The impact of Blazing Service has been so powerful within XO Communications that they’re rolling it out to the entire company, not just their service departments. “The company culture is changing because our employees feel like we’re investing in them. They realize that this program not only helps them do their jobs, but it improves their resume, too.” Clark also reports that use of Blazing Service has resulted in significant training cost savings. “We’ve drastically reduced travel and training costs. And with the train-the-trainer program and a two-year site license, we’ll be able to train our entire company for a nominal per-person cost.”