Major Utility Provider

Transforming Knowledge Retention

Ember is changing the way that employees in customer operations learn at one of the UK’s biggest utilities. By introducing our online knowledge retention platform, Errol Owl, we’re helping the 4000-strong front-line team keep up-to-date with changing products, services and regulatory requirements. Through daily quizzes, Errol supports retention, reinforces key information and enables the utility company to evaluate individual knowledge levels and action-targeted coaching sessions. This activity has led to a demonstrable improvement in customer service KPIs including Net Promoter Score.

In numbers

  • Average participation levels of over 75% - supporting learning retention
  • Tangible improvement in NPS
  • Reduction in average call handle time

As you can imagine, the customer service function is a busy place in a large utility provider. Front-line agents have to deal with a vast range of queries, from billing and tariffs, to switching providers to resolving faults. Many now deal with both electricity and gas supply and in recent years they have all been under pressure to accelerate the installation of smart meters; all whilst providing responsive service across a growing range of communication channels. In short, it’s a complex service environment that is rapidly evolving – meaning that employee knowledge needs to change fast too.

Learning retention: the gap in the chain

Our client was no exception. The hub of its service operation is a multi-channel contact centre, supported by field operatives all over the UK. Reflecting its commitment to outstanding service, this utility has invested in a range of learning tools and methods designed to support daily updates and ongoing individual development.

But while a combination of huddles, 1-2-1s, digital learning and classroom training demonstrates best practice to encourage knowledge transfer and acquisition; senior managers recognised there was a gap in the chain: the company had no way to assess how much of the learning ‘stuck’ and it was a challenge to find efficient ways to support employees to retain it.

In turn this meant that it couldn’t evaluate the impact of its major investment in learning easily; or compare the effectiveness of different delivery methods or check whether staff had absorbed essential safety updates or compliance messages.

Customised Content, Flexible Reporting

When the senior managers outlined these challenges to Ember, we instantly recognised this was a perfect scenario for our online knowledge-retention platform Errol Owl.

Designed to complement existing training and knowledge transfer strategies, Errol Owl provides an engaging and flexible way to embed learning – and demonstrate that it has done so. Errol Owl makes it easy for organisations to create customised content such as bite-sized refresher sessions, quizzes to encourage retention and timely prompts for critical messages. It also uses artificial intelligence to adapt questions to reflect user knowledge.

Crucially too, for the utility, it supports reporting with flexible tools that provide detailed insights into individual learning performance as well as overall effectiveness.

Building to a Big Launch

The senior team saw Errol Owl as an ideal solution, but knew it needed to be carefully shaped to the utility’s unique needs – so they asked us to oversee its implementation. We began by visiting the contact centre to increase our understanding of the exact needs and key focus areas, including any compliance content.

We then created the first batch of content for Errol Owl and devised some knowledge-check questions. Senior managers and representatives from the utility’s L&D team were involved in the process, with a view to equipping them with the skills to develop new content in the future.

With all the initial material in place, we planned a major launch day to get agents and team leaders engaged with the platform. We ensured the contact centre was full of Errol-branded posters, stationery, balloons and cupcakes and encouraged agents to try out the quizzes – with staff support on site for any technical issues.

Positive Feedback From the Whole Team

The launch day was a major hit with the team, but the real success has been demonstrated since.

User engagement levels have been consistently high with over 75% of staff regularly engaging with the platform. Agent feedback has been positive, with staff commenting on how user-friendly the platform is and how it has created some healthy competition. For the utility, that has led to tangible benefits against several key performance indicators for the contact centre, including Net Promoter Score and average call handle times.

But some of the most positive feedback has been at an individual level. Some agents have told us that Errol Owl has introduced them to information they weren’t previously aware of, such as tariff details or customer processes. Team leaders meanwhile tell us that the individual learning evaluation allows them to have more effective and focused coaching conversations and 1-2-1 sessions.

Joining the dots to get the results

In short, Errol Owl has not only added a fun element to knowledge retention, it’s supporting staff development and retention on a broader level – invaluable for a high-performing customer service operation.

The final word goes to one of the senior managers behind the choice of Errol Owl: “It’s a fantastic engaging platform that gives us insight into our people that we’ve never had before. If we use it right, we can join all the dots and get the results we need!"