Connecting with BGL’s values was time well spent, says Customer Experience Ambassador, Harry Perris
When BGL Group’s ‘First Notification of Loss’ (FNOL) call centre team spends valuable time away from the telephones, it is usually to catch up with colleagues and talk about day-to-day issues.
So, when we invited the team to a whole day workshop with little more than a teaser that it was something to do with BGL’s values, it took many of them by surprise.
The FNOL team is on the front line as customers take the first step in their insurance claim journey. Providing impeccable customer service is critical, not only for BGL’s insurance brands, Beagle Street, Budget Insurance and Direct Dial, but also the other insurers they represent, including Lloyds, Halifax and M&S.
While the 130-strong members of the team wear multiple ‘hats’ when answering the phones, the values they embody are those of BGL Group, namely ‘Ambitious’, ‘Authentic’, ‘Creative’ and ‘United’.
The values are very well promoted across the Group, but there wasn’t a massive understanding of what they really meant to the team as individuals.
Working with my colleagues, Inderjit Sanga and Chloe Hiddleston, we took on the challenge to make the values more than just words. We wanted to help everyone understand what the values and behaviours are and how to live them every day.
To put them at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we organised a series of interactive ‘LOVE’ – ‘Living Our Values Everyday’ – workshops, with up to 10 colleagues attending each session.
Initially there were blank faces and fairly standard answers. But when we spent some time on each value, probing what they were doing and how they were doing it, the penny began to drop.
The value everyone engaged with most was ‘United’ – united as teams, divisions and, of course, a Group. To reinforce the message, we played out a number of behaviours we see every day and talked about how they help or hinder us being a united team. It really helped everyone to become more aware of their own behaviours and how to engage others.
‘Creative’ was harder to connect with initially, because everyone took it so literally. Lots of attendees didn’t see themselves as being ‘creative’ at work. It was almost a case of ‘if you’re not drawing a picture, you’re not being creative. But when we talked about creating new processes, there were some great examples, such as setting up birthday clubs. Often it was the small things that really resonated. After 20 minutes everyone was beginning to nod.
Similarly, many attendees only saw ‘ambitious’ in terms of career progression. The ‘ambitious’ value didn’t resonate initially, partly because we had a real mix of new team members who were finding their feet and some that had been in their role a long time and were really settled. But everyone began to understand once we steered the conversation away from careers to personal development and achieving the correct customer outcomes.
Everyone found it relatively easy to recognise whether others were being authentic. The challenge with this value was how to give feedback or challenge behaviours that aren’t appropriate without necessarily involving a team leader or manager. We wanted everyone to leave the session knowing that they are encouraged to give feedback and have the tools and the confidence to do it. Catching people in the act of living – or not living – our values and behaviours is incredibly powerful, particularly when it comes from one of your peers.
So far more than 75 colleagues have taken part in the workshops. For a lot of colleagues this was the first all-day workshop they’d attended that wasn’t formal training. They were excited to spend time getting to know colleagues they don’t work with every day. It really helped build camaraderie across the teams.
For me the key lesson from the workshops was that everyone is displaying the values and behaviours, whether they realise it or not. Our job was to help everyone understand what they were looking for so they could make that first connection. Once that first seed was sown, it was something that everyone could build on.
The challenge now is to ensure the lessons are incorporated into everyone’s daily lives. Once you’ve run a workshop, there is always the risk that people feel like ‘that is that’. To keep the conversation going we asked everyone to commit to working on a value or a behaviour that could then form part of their personal development discussions with their team leader.
Feedback from the LOVE workshops has been excellent. We’ve had great feedback from the participants and our managers have been very supportive. Word even reached our Executive Management Committee and we were asked to present our results. They were really pleased and have encouraged us to roll the workshops out across other offices.
Find out more about BGL’s values and behaviours here