Student’s Research Sparks Changes at Virgin Media

A North East businesswoman has seen her university project on call centre induction put in place across the UK.
Katie Carroll, 28, of Stockton, researched and implemented a project on the best ways to induct call centre employees as part of her work-based BA (Hons) degree in Leadership and Management at Teesside University.
The project focused on streamlining the induction process and helping employees to learn faster.

Her employer Virgin Media was so impressed by the project, which saved £65,000 in training costs in just six months at call centres in Stockton and Sheffield, the company has introduced it at call centres UK-wide.
Katie, who has one year left of the work-based learning degree, said: “About three years ago I moved from a team manager position into the training department. The first project I was given to work on was to rewrite the induction programme for Customer Relations.

“I recognised there were ways of improving the training process and my degree gave me the opportunity to explore that.

“I went through a process of understanding what makes a great induction. This was from the content to the best way to train and develop people while looking at accelerated learning.

“As I’d worked as a team manager I knew that there’s a huge difference between someone who has had a good induction and someone who hasn’t. It gave me a great understanding of how important the induction process is.”
Katie added that her university project gave her the opportunity to take a step back and analyse the research she’d done and to put that into a new process.

She said: “Studying the project gave me the ability to rip apart the induction material that was in place and to start again incorporating new methods.”

“With the university I examined staff undergoing the new way of training and through a process of continuous appraisal, receiving feedback and reviewing every three months, I was able to take the process to the next level.

“I put together key principles and was asked to start sharing best practice with other Virgin Media call centres in the UK. This included regular reviews with their managers during training, an interactive appraisal tool to track new starter performance and behaviours, plus a more structured ‘Academy’; an effective way to maximise on-the-job learning. A follow up day of training was also introduced after the new starters had been in role for a month in order to build on their skills and knowledge further.”

The project has been recognised as a leading example of first class training design and has allowed induction programmes to be streamlined.

Katie said: “It has meant reduced time for training, savings on training costs, better customer relations and a reduction in staff turnover.”

Kelly Black of Virgin Media said: “I selected Katie for the job of rewriting one of our key induction programmes as I was confident that the blend of ‘fresh eyes’, aptitude, her ability to gather resources and experience of managing a team would be very successful when combined with the more formal learning Katie was going through in her work-based degree. I’m delighted that this proved to be the case.”
Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “Katie’s work for Virgin Media is an excellent example of how work-based learning can have excellent benefits not only for the students but for the companies that employee them.

“As a direct result of the work that Katie has done with Teesside University her company, Virgin Media has been able to make great savings.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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