Launched in the UK in 1994, the Orange group is one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies, with operations in 16 countries. In an almost saturated mobile phone market, the group distinguishes itself by focusing on customer needs and providing high standards of customer service.
To communicate a range of discounts and deals for new and existing customers, Orange developed a series of advertising campaigns. These adverts – which ran across television, the national press, the internet and posters – generated a significant increase in customer response calls at Orange’s UK contact centres. To cope with the additional demand, Orange embarked on a major recruitment drive to appoint 1,000 new customer service representatives in six months.
“We pride ourselves on our customer service,” said Lisa Blewitt, Training & Development Manager at Orange. “It is very important that each of our new employees receives a comprehensive induction, so that they can provide excellent service to customers.”
Orange runs a three-week induction programme for new contact centre staff. This mix of instructor-led workshops and e-learning covers brand awareness, product and systems training and customer service skills. Groups of 10-12 new inductees at a time work together through the programme at Orange’s five UK contact centres: in Bristol, Darlington, North Tyneside, Peterlee and Plymouth.
“We recognised that training an additional 1,000 people would create an impossible demand on our in-house training resource,” said Lisa Blewitt. “We resolved this by creating an innovative training partnership with KnowledgePool.”
With just four days notice, over a Bank Holiday, KnowledgePool was able to mobilise and assign 20 experienced associate trainers who could work alongside Orange’s in-house team to deliver the induction training programme at each contact centre.
KnowledgePool provided a project manager to co-ordinate and review the activities of its trainers.
“One of the key advantages of working with KnowledgePool is that we gained the expertise of their trainers without having the administration and co-ordination headaches that are involved in making sure they’re in the right place at the right time,” said Lisa Blewitt. “These issues were handled by their project manager, who has been very proactive. This was a huge benefit and it really helped to ensure a very successful working relationship.”
KnowledgePool continues to provide trainers to Orange, on an on-going basis, to help the company meet its continuing training needs.
“In effect, we now have a virtual training team which gives us the flexibility to respond to the peaks and troughs in demand for training,” said Lisa Blewitt. “We can call on KnowledgePool’s trainers whenever we need to. It is a tap that we can turn on and off that guarantees us training expertise, without impacting on our other training initiatives.”
“KnowledgePool were the obvious choice,” said Lisa Blewitt. “We’ve worked with them in the past and we’re very comfortable with the cultural fit. They have considerable expertise and resources and they were able to provide excellent trainers who could hit the ground running. This enabled us to meet the demand for training without compromising the quality of the inductions in any way.”
Lisa Blewitt says this is an unusual relationship which bridges the gap between outsourcing and in-house training.
“It shows that organisations don’t have to choose between the two,” she explained. “You can get the best of both worlds. Our internal trainers also got the chance to work alongside excellent external trainers and this has helped them to broaden their expertise and perspectives.”