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Expanding our Customer Service skills

We’re celebrating National Customer Service Week and the theme for today is ‘skills’. Training and development for colleagues is so important at NCFE to ensure that our customers receive the very best service and we want to share with you some of the fantastic efforts of our Customer Support team over the past few months.

A summer of learning

The team completed over 350 hours of training in August for both Leaders and Advisors to ensure that they were ready for the new academic year. Working with TAO Leadership, an award-winning development organisation, the team came up with a bespoke training programme designed to embrace agility and improve customer experience.

The training included workshops focussing on awareness of excellence, mind-set, skill-set and coaching, and taking accountability for customers’ experiences. The programme concluded with guidance through a secret shopper exercise and the feedback from colleagues across the board was excellent.

Christine Mead, Customer Support Advisor said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the recent TAO workshops and I really feel that a positive mind-set is at the core of a happier life both inside and outside of work. A few tweaks of wording can really change the tone of a conversation and I now feel empowered to solve issues, seeing problems as challenges and a chance to wow our customers. The whole team have embraced this and I can really feel the positivity across the team as we all strive for customer excellence.”

Daniel Hoyland, Customer Experience Change Manager, added: “In addition to the TAO led training, we’ve updated our skills matrix to put more emphasis on having excellent conversations with our internal and external customers. We’ve also created a new coaching and mentoring programme for Advisors, designed to support development and progression. We’re really focussing on making sure that the whole team is equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to help us achieve our goals.”

Customer Service Advisor Ruth Sanderson is a great example of how the right training, tools and support can make a difference.

“I started my training at NCFE in February this year with 4 weeks in a classroom environment followed by shadowing experienced colleagues listening to calls and overseeing email queries within Customer Support. I then went out onto the floor and put what I had learned into practice, answering telephone calls from centres and assisting with inbox queries,” Ruth explains.

“I found my first six months at NCFE quite intense, as there is a vast amount of knowledge needed to do this role. At times it’s been fast-paced due to busy periods for schools and colleges but I’ve had a lot of assistance from colleagues and my manager, who I have always found to be helpful, supportive and more than willing to share best practice, which has made coping with the demands of the role a lot easier.”

After six months, Ruth feels settled and confident in her role, adding: “It’s nice to build rapport with centre contacts using the skills I’ve gained and I feel a sense of achievement when I can successfully help them to solve a problem they’re experiencing.”

Ruth’s line manager Lee Stephenson-Archibald said: “Ruth has settled into her role at NCFE extremely well, her confidence and knowledge of the systems and products is growing all the time thanks to the training she’s undertaken.”

The team will continue to monitor and address skill gaps and provide development opportunities to ensure that the Customer Support team continue to provide excellent service to our customers.


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