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How Spark Aligned its Approach to Frontline Training, Recognition, and Rewards with Excellence in Customer Outcomes

Creating a Measurable Training Initiative

To drive a customer centric culture, Spark overhauled its approach to frontline training, recognition and rewards to align with excellence in customer outcomes.

Launching a scalable, personalised development framework grounded in team sourced best practices has increased staff knowledge and engagement levels. Ensuring staff are rewarded for delivering great CX.

Identifying the Need for a Human-centric Culture

Following the successful launch of integrated Voice of Customer (VoC) and Voice of Employee (VoE) programs, Spark began to see initial gains in key performance metrics plateau.

Analysis revealed a strong correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction, so a strategic decision was made to improve engagement through an enhanced EX capability.

Additionally, to drive a human-centric culture, Spark needed to transform the employee learning and development capability plus embed a visible performance-based recognition and rewards framework.

Spark’s legacy learning and development systems lacked clarity around frontline performance and created a bad employee experience. VoC and VoE insights were not being consistently fed back to people leaders to help focus employee learning and development efforts.

The goal was to provide consistently excellent customer experience for their customers by lifting skillsets across the frontline, and ensuring employees were recognised and rewarded for their performance and contribution.

Implementing a New EX Management Solution

The new EX management solution enables a personalised and automated learning process to unleash a culture of performance and ownership.

At the heart of this solution is a new Accreditation Program powered by a purpose-built open source learning platform named ‘Ako’ (Te Reo Māori for ‘to learn’).

Ako creates a space for employee driven development guided by knowledge, performance and engagement levels. The Program encompasses Learning and Performance, along with Remuneration & Rewards. Role-based performance dashboards help drive employee accountability and empower development autonomy.

“I like seeing the comments from my customers, some of them really good, some not so good. The way it helps me is I know how to improve myself moving forward, know what my customer wants. I can take ownership – a big thing here at Spark.”

— Sharleen Kaukas, At home Agent, Complex Solutions

Determining Results from Voice of Customers (VOC) and Voice of Employee (VOE) Feedback

Accreditation levels are determined using feedback from VoC and VoE programs and relevant operational/financial targets. This accreditation algorithm generates the employee’s performance metrics across a number of role-based competencies and KPIs.

Employees are assessed as one of four performance levels, so their needs can be individually met based on their role & relative performance.

Results are delivered via interactive dashboards highlighting key performance and recommended learning opportunities. For example, “Bronze” employees leverage existing learning content and experts, while “Gold” level employees are encouraged to share knowledge and leverage their capability across the organisation.

Sharing Knowledge is a Best Practice

Spark has transformed its low-engagement, externally managed online training-based approach into a culture of internal best practice sharing. Knowledge is now ‘crowd-sourced,’ then democratised through peer-to-peer learning and role-based best practice guides.

This new learning approach replaced Spark’s legacy resource heavy knowledge management approach and content gate keepers. Self-guided development tools augment individual performance support plans.

Employees have full visibility into accreditation levels, what is needed to reach the next level – and are given tailored coaching and learning opportunities. The new position of ‘Accreditation Coach’ helps employees navigate their ‘Ako dashboard’ and the breadth of the learning opportunities available.

After eliminating it’s previous siloed bias and inconsistent rewards system, employees at Spark now understand their remuneration potential, and how it’s associated with their performance-based accreditation progression.

Demonstrating the Value High-impact EX

The impact of the Ako Development Program has been transformational across thousands of frontline staff at Spark. It has transformed Spark’s performance metrics in its Assisted Channels (retail and contact centres).

From June 2018 to May 2019:

  • iNPS has seen a 130% increase;
  • sNPS a 43% increase
  • FCR a 9% increase.

One of the biggest wins is in the Resolve queues (where existing customers are helped with their problems).

As customers are already unhappy when they call, the gains have been fantastic:

  • Premium Care has seen an iNPS increase of 17%,
  • FCR increase of 9% and Service Experience increase of 16%
  • Customer care workloads have reduced by over 15%
  • Overall eNPS has risen by 15%.

From a Learning perspective, learning engagement levels are up over 300%, and approximately 10% of users now access Ako by mobile. Demonstrating an increase in employees using this new learning capability in response to “in-the-moment” situations (a 530% increase since the launch of the program).

In addition, over the past year new completed courses were up 264% on prior year using the previous system.

“What we do is we take the Voice of the Customer compliments that the agents get. A lot of it is speaking to the ownership that the agents are taking on the calls. Customers really appreciate them owning the case from start to end. To highlight it, we’ve made it a whole theme here at Premium Care.  Ownership is one of our own culture qualities we’re trying to embed in our Centre. We’ve made posters highlighting the agents and talking about the compliments they’re receiving, and how much the customers really do appreciate it. It’s been a real morale booster and I think agents really notice the difference now.”

— Khayla Winterstein, Complex Support Specialist at Spark


Read more by author Racheal Reeves: ‘The space-race to build the Netflix of Learning’