Leaving a mark you can bank on

In the fiercely competitive banking industry, great customer service can be a key differentiator. And when you’re one of the giants of the industry, it’s quite simply expected. 15,000 Barclays colleagues have thousands of customer interactions every day. That’s why it’s so important that service standards are second to none.

The customer-led agenda

At Barclays, ‘Community Banking’ encompasses both branch colleagues and those in contact centre(s).Putting the customer at the heart of interactions is central to the bank’s way of working.  

As Sarah McNab, Senior Colleague Transformation Manager at Barclays, explains: “There’s a real focus in Barclays on achieving truly customer-led conversations.  Everything we do should be about ensuring the right outcome every time.


Why TrainingMark?

Barclays runs many training programmes to help develop its colleagues and keep customer service at the forefront of how it operates.  And to underline its commitment, and validate the quality of its training, the bank decided to apply for TrainingMark accreditation from the Institute, for two of its training courses.


TrainingMark provides a national accreditation of an organisation’s internal customer service training programme.  It allows organisations to demonstrate that their training meets national standards and can act as a point of differentiation from competitors.  Members of staff who complete the accredited training receive a certificate from the Institute.


Barclays had 2 courses accredited and both revolve around customer interaction.  The first - “Conversation Framework” - helps colleagues think about, practice and embed ways of understanding and acting upon a customer’s needs and is based around six customer “Me’s”: Welcome me, Help me, Understand me, Personal to me, Right for me, Value me.  The course helps colleagues think about the right behaviours for each of these so that they can become ‘trusted guides’ helping customers according to their agenda.  


It involves an online learning exercise where colleagues gain self-insight around general (non-banking specific) conversation, questioning and listening skills; a day long face to face learning event led by a trainer and attended by a business leader in which colleagues explore the issues and practice in facilitated scenarios; and then embedding the training in the workplace, with five successful customer interactions observed by a leader or peer needed to achieve the course.  To date, some 8,000 colleagues have been through the training.


The second – known as the “Community Wings” - is a course in which colleagues reflect and learn about conversations with customers who may be in difficult circumstances.  Accessing an interactive web platform, colleagues can cover a number of modules through a mix of formats including videos and ‘day in the life of’ pieces.


A key motivator


Claudia Kimpton, Strategic Transformation Analyst in Accessibility & Inclusion at Barclays, says: “We wanted to package up what we do in the best way possible for colleagues – and TrainingMark, with the certificates the Institute offers, really fitted the bill.”  
Indeed, the promise of a certificate from the Institute at the end of the training has proved to be a key motivator to colleagues.

“There’s a massive amount of pride in receiving a certificate.  People are really keen to get them and indeed often post pictures of themselves with their certificate on our intranet site which is great to see!”  
Importantly, the certificates are sent to colleagues by their senior leader rather than by the learning & development department.

“Getting your certificate from your leader along with a congratulatory note really adds to the sense of pride and recognition,” Sarah says.  “It makes the achievement all the more special.”

Painless process

So what did the process of achieving TrainingMark accreditation involve?  Firstly, the bank had a discussion with the Institute about the criteria required to meet the Institute’s professional standards which include having mechanisms in place to assess individual competence, a sound quality assurance framework, and management commitment to customer service excellence.  A ‘Management Commitment Statement’ was signed by a senior executive (Head of Client and Customer Experience) in the bank.

The Institute examined the course materials, remotely and also in the case of the Conversation Framework by coming into the bank’s offices to look at materials in more detail.  
“It was actually very painless,” Sarah says.  “The whole process took a couple of months.  We received accreditation for a year in January 2015 and then obtained reaccreditation for another year – following further discussion and review with the Institute – in January 2016.  We recently received the reaccreditation plaque!”

Multiple pay-offs

And would they say that achieving TrainingMark had been worth it?  
“Definitely,” both Claudia and Sarah agree.  “It’s a sign that we’re investing in our people and that we take the standard of our training really seriously.  It’s also about giving something back to colleagues, acknowledging their achievements.”

Interestingly, they decided that the certificates should not have ‘Barclays’ on them – just the Institute.  “It adds to the sense that colleagues have earned a certificate that they can take with them should they ever come to leave,” Sarah explains.  “It’s good for the CV.  Personally as someone who interviews job candidates, if I saw a candidate who's CV stated they had attended an accredited programme it would impress me and ensure they were noticed.”

Certainly, the two training programmes have had very positive results.  The Conversation Framework has seen a rise in net promoter scores in branches and the feedback is that the framework has been key.  Meanwhile, engagement with the Community Wings has seen positive comments on the intranet site – and colleagues even suggested introducing a module on long-term illness which the bank is partnering with Marie Curie to develop.

All in all, the programmes are helping colleagues feel better equipped to engage with customers – and TrainingMark accreditation has had an important role to play.