Case study 1 - Student Loans Company (SLC)
The Student Loans Company administers government-funded loans and grants to students throughout the United Kingdom. We are responsible (in partnership with Local Authorities in England and Wales, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, the Education and Library Boards in Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Institutions and HM Revenue & Customs) for student support delivery in the UK.
We have 250 Customer Services Advisors across 4 sites, with offices in England, Wales and Scotland. The Contact Centre is open from 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am - 5.30pm Saturday and Sunday. Shifts vary in locations from fixed to flexible.
Organisation objective for telephone call management
The importance of handling telephone calls is to understand the emotions of an abusive customer. How they are feeling and why they feel the way they do. Staff are trained to manage their own well being in order to complete a telephone call and not feel upset or aggrieved by the customer's behaviour. This is done by using a psychological approach to why individuals become abusive.
Controlling the risk of verbal abuse
Staff Training programmes
Induction training for new staff includes:
- New advisors have an initial Welcome Day which is facilitated by our Learning and Development Department and then 2 weeks of Product and System Knowledge.
- The advisors will then move into their new team and sit observing and listening to their "buddy" taking calls. We have a 4 month probation period and we measure their success against attendance, time keeping, performance, discipline/attitude/ team working and references
- New advisors are given a Development Diary which they complete when they have joined their new team and Departments. The continuous Development Diary will allow staff to learn skills necessary to their role over a period of time. Products will be introduced to the trainee by using the modules within the diary, resulting in the trainee completing the Business as usual training with a satisfactory level of knowledge and confidence to carry out their day to day tasks.
- Call handling techniques
- Dealing with phone rage - which includes Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques to help staff take control of telephone calls.
- Assertiveness training
- Currently working on developing an Emotional Training package, which deals with such subjects as 'Positive Self Talk', 'Happiness' and 'Keeping Motivated'.
- All staff have access to systems which allow them to interrogate customers' accounts and provide information and advice on individual situations.
- All activities on accounts will be logged, whether it's the issue of a letter via one of our systems or if someone has spoken to a customer. A record of the conversation can be manually recorded via the notepad.
- All calls are recorded to assist with training and help deal with customer complaints.
- We survey 10,000 customers a month via an automated system and customers have the opportunity to leave a comment on the service they have received.
- Department Steering Groups which consist of advisors and team leaders to allow them to raise, discuss and resolve issues.
- We have moved away from traditional targets such as Call Handle Time in order that advisors focus on first contact resolution without any time pressures.
- The Wales Contact Centre is fully bilingual. Each caller is able to make their language preference choice, and both the messages and the advisor will respond either in Welsh or English as required.
Working environment and support
- Staff can approach coaches located in each area for information and guidance on more complex queries.
- All staff are located within a team and have a team leader they can approach for help, regardless if work or personal.
- After difficult calls staff can take a break away from the work area if needed.
- All employees have access to an Employee Assistance Programme which provides support for both work related issues and personal issues. The assistance programme also offers a counselling service.
- Workstation assessments are completed either annually or when a desk move takes place. This includes the desk layout, equipment and environment.
- SLC has recently introduced the Right Reward Scheme which is an opportunity for employees to commend their colleagues or a team for going the extra mile.
- Accredited member of the 'Customer Contact Association' which involves an audit by BSI on best practice within contact centres.
- 'Voice of the Customer' wall, where we display positive verbatim feedback from customers.
- Fund raising and themed events