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Company: AIB, Mulhuddart, Dublin , Ireland

Nomination Category: Training Programs or Media -Skills Training


Nomination Title: Customer Island


Products Essay

Interactive Services and Allied Irish Banks produced a programme for training staff in Complaints Handling.

The subject is a vital one for AIB, whose principal Brand Value is ‘we put our customers first.’ It was felt that bank staff were failing to handle complaints effectively for various reasons, which included a lack of the necessary knowledge and skills, but also a tendency to ‘pass the buck’. Too much attention was being focused on attributing blame rather than solving the problem, and staff members were reluctant to take responsibility on themselves. The training needed to empower staff to resolve complaints quickly and in a way that satisfied the customer.

The programme was designed in two parts; firstly, a one-day classroom course, and secondly, an online course which took the form of a game, ‘Customer Island’.

The classroom training is designed to be experiential and be delivered in an interactive style with roleplays and real-life scenarios. Key topics include emotional intelligence, negotiation, and communication styles; an innovative feature of the classroom training is the avoidance of excessive use of slides, which are replaced by workbooks that users can absorb, engage with, and take away. The workbooks also contain additional information that users can read through at their own leisure.

The innovative online element, ‘Customer Island’ is designed to be engaging, enjoyable and instructive. To play the game, users are shown a high-level view of an imaginary island whose regions have names representing different aspects of the customer experience, such as ‘Complaints Castle’ and ‘Regulation Road’. The player selects a region, where virtual ‘customers’ can be seen. By clicking on a customer, the player begins an interactive exercise to resolve the situation presented by that customer; the exercise is scenario based, and learning takes place through working examples and stories, videos, and audio clips. At the end of the process, the player receives feedback about errors they may have made in their approach. To complete the online course, the player must cover every region of the island, and obtain an overall 80% success rate. Players can see their score throughout the game (which mirrors the look of the NPS customer experience score). As they move through the game, depending on how they answer the questions, the score will move up or down. Regulation is covered but in a very real-life way. Examples are used which emphasise the main role of regulation -to protect the customer and ensure the customer is treated fairly.

The online course also includes a short video, ‘The Proposal’, which uses humour to make frontline staff think about the language they use when talking to customers and to promote the use of plain English. The video shows a young couple, Brendan and Evanna, at their shared home. Brendan is seen carefully preparing to propose marriage to Evanna, but when he begins the conversation, he is so nervous that he lapses into the kind of jargon-laced language that he uses at work. His approach confuses and upsets Evanna, and it seems likely that his proposal will be rejected.

The success of the programme was measured in two ways; firstly, quantitively, by the use of customer satisfaction research using Net Promoter Score (NPS). This was uniformly positive; for example, all key complaint handlers from the bank’s branches attended the classroom course, as well as the Business area equivalent, and their NPS score increased by 20 points over the year. The second, qualitative measure was user feedback; 100% of respondents said that the course was either good or great, and many gave examples of ways in which the training had assisted them in their work.


Products Summary

-Interactive Services created a two-part training programme in complaints handling for AIB

-AIB wanted the programme to assist them in achieving a “Customer First” culture, meaning that they provide a better outcome for their customers when something has gone wrong.

-The first part is a classroom course using roleplays and real-life scenarios rather than presentations.

-Key topics include emotional intelligence, negotiation, and communication styles.

-The second part is an innovative online course using a game format.

-Players must solve customers’ complaints in each of the regions.

-Play is interactive using scenarios and videos.

-Players can see their score throughout and must achieve 80% to complete successfully.

-A short video, ‘The Proposal’, uses humour to make staff think about the language they use with customers.

-The programme proved successful when measured both by user feedback and changes in customer satisfaction using the Net Promoter Score.

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