Sovereign Housing: Setting new starters up for success

Sovereign Housing

‘Learning on the job’ may be an effective induction approach for some organisations but it was not enough for one of the largest and fastest growing housing associations in the country, Sovereign Housing.

Sovereign Housing Association own and manage more than 37,000 homes for 86,000 residents across the south and south west of England. Offering more than just bricks and mortar, they provide a range of homes people can afford, with value added services; supported by a 130 seat contact centre.

Their challenge rested in the evolution of their contact centre. It had been created over two years earlier by centralising colleagues from across the organisation that had been responsible, in some way, for contact with residents. Not only had staff been based across three different locations; there was a broad demographic spread and they were supporting residents with a wide spectrum of queries ranging from helping people find new homes to property repairs and mental health issues.

Debbie Osborne, Head of Customer Contact at Sovereign Housing, highlighted some of the challenges they faced, “We brought in a lot of advisors in a very short time as well as moving people across from other departments. As the contact centre hadn’t previously existed, there was no induction programme. New advisors were learning on the job by sitting next to somebody.”

Bringing in the experts

The CCMA’s UK National Contact Centre Academy was originally tasked with developing the ‘sitting with Nellie’ approach to induction and producing a professional, structured induction course for new starters.

“We chose the CCMA because they are experts in their field”, Debbie explained, “bringing with them skills and experience that we simply didn’t have in house”.

Working closely with the internal training team, the CCMA developed new training materials tailored specifically to the needs of the organisation and designed an eight week learning programme that included soft skills training. Sovereign’s Team Leaders were then trained by the Academy to deliver the programme to their teams.

Hailed a success

Debbie added, “the ‘train the trainer’ event was excellent and helped the team leaders really think about their own preferred communication style and how to adapt to suit others”.

Induction training was also hailed a success – so much so that experienced advisors were desperate to get on the course too. This led to all advisors undertaking the training, helping to improve consistency and encourage a ‘one team’ ethos.

Induction training delivered an overall uplift in quality monitoring scores and it helped new advisors reach a level of competency at a faster rate through gaining a holistic understanding of the organisation and their role within it.

Summarising her thoughts on training from the Academy, Debbie concluded, “we have since used training from the CCMA to support our Team Leaders with leadership skills, performance management and coaching. They are simply our first port of call for any training in the contact centre.”

What was achieved?

Training 25 advisors and team leaders were involved in the training.

  • Advisors gained improved soft skills and a strong introduction to the organisation and their context within it.
  • Team Leaders are more confident in their delivery of Induction training.
  • Now have a comprehensive induction programme and the skills to deliver this inhouse

They said….

“A great start to joining the organisation. The course was thorough and helped me understand the bigger picture.”

“The trainer really understood our sector and our residents’ needs.”

“The ‘Train the Trainer’ course helped me develop my confidence to deliver.”

“Got lots of practical hints and tips, best practice examples that I could apply straight away.”