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communicating effectively with our customers – our specialised training programme for our team

Image for communicating effectively with our customers – our specialised training programme for our team

Here at Alertacall we are serious about our contact centre team being highly trained, but what exactly does this mean? Here we take a closer look at the training undertaken by our team members, and how it helps us to better communicate with our customers.

We work closely with many customers who are assessed as having higher needs whether due to health problems, personal circumstances or past experiences. It is extremely important to us that we have a good understanding of individual needs, and that we have the skills and confidence to communicate as sensitively and positively as possible. This is why every member of our staff undertakes extensive training – from call operators to the Chief Executive.

Alongside ongoing training in day-to-day operations, our specialised training focuses on five core areas: Dementia Awareness, Mental Health Awareness, Suicide Alertness, Domestic Abuse Awareness and Communicating with People Who Live with a Learning Disability. With over 10 years experience of dealing with higher needs individuals we recognise the value of effective training. As a point of contact for many people, we have regular customers who will call in for advice, or simply for a chat. Over time we have observed an increase in the number of calls from customers demonstrating vulnerable behaviours such as suicidal thoughts, and so it is vital that the team have the confidence to handle difficult calls and to support those suffering.

Our vulnerable groups training is developed from a combination of thorough research and outsourced training and development. A Mental Health Awareness course (Level 1) is provided by the mental health charity MIND. Most full-time staff, including all of our team leaders, have also passed the MIND written Mental Health Awareness college course (Level 2). In addition, Dementia Awareness training is delivered by the Alzheimer’s Society, and our team members are ‘Dementia Friends’ – an initiative from the Alzheimer’s Society which aims to promote understanding of the condition. Our Suicide Alertness training, meanwhile, includes guidelines from MIND and an online suicide course from the Zero Suicide Alliance, a collaboration between National Health Service trusts, businesses and individuals who are committed to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond.

The Domestic Abuse Awareness training programme undertaken by our team has been developed in conjunction with Winner, the Preston Road Women’s Centre in Hull. Winner is a charitable organisation which provides accommodation, as well as information and support, for women fleeing domestic violence. Winner have visited us at our Windermere Head Office and delivered training using real examples of situations that can arise. They have provided coaching on how call operators should respond to scenarios, as well as how to direct residents’ queries effectively.

The most recent addition to our training programme is ‘Communicating with People Who Live with a Learning Disability’. For this we have been working closely with Fairoak Housing Association based in Kendal, Cumbria who provide accommodation for people across the North of England assessed as having learning and other disabilities. We have visited staff and residents of Fairoak, and have invited them to visit us at Head Office. Together we have created appropriate training guidelines, and our latest work in progress is the adaptation of contact centre scripts to make them better suited to residents with learning disabilities.

Ultimately, as a progressive company, we are ever-developing and improving our staff training programme. Training is varied, from attending courses to watching training videos to testing ourselves with ongoing assessment. Training guidelines are accessible by all staff via the company intranet. In addition we also attend relevant workshops, for example sessions on ‘active listening’ to enhance the customer experience with our Contact Centre teams.

Training is continuous and regularly reviewed; everybody renews their training annually to remain up-to-date with best practice. Here at Alertacall we are always learning, and are eager to keep challenging ourselves. Learning and Development Advisor, Stephanie Stainton is responsible for organising and overseeing staff training at Alertacall. Stephanie says, ‘Since developing our vulnerable groups training programme we have seen a significant increase in our staff’s confidence and knowledge when faced with challenging calls. What is really great is how this has made a real difference to our customers lives’.

For more information on any of our daily contact services, call our team on 0808 208 1234 or email