Cardiff Breakfast Club 10th October – Lynda Campbell, British Gas

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Business/Cardiff News, Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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Breakfast ClubOur speaker this morning was Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for British Gas. Lynda has worked for British Gas for over 30 years, progressing from the “shop floor” to overseeing its award-winning contact centre in Cardiff.

British Gas is one of Wales’ “anchor companies”, with 1300 members of staff employed at the Cardiff contact centre alone. Lynda and her team have worked hard to transform British Gas within Wales, achieving phenomenal results in both customer satisfaction and employee engagement. With over 30,000 people employed in contact centres, Lynda is now looking for ways to share this best practice with other companies and nurture communication skills in those entering the world of work, to create a niche for South Wales as a hub of superb service skills.

Lynda began by dispelling some of the common perceptions around working in contact centres: that it is unskilled, unsociable and undesirable. Turning these perceptions around is just one way the Cardiff centre team set about to “break the mould” for contact centres.

Lynda and her team set bold ambitions when she became General Manager in 2008. At the time British Gas was top of the complaints league and losing 12 members of staff per week.  It became evident that a completely new approach was needed, with a particular phrase becoming a motto for the Cardiff centre: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over.”

Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for Wales, British Gas, explained how she has "broken the mould" for contact centres.

Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for Wales, British Gas, explained how she has “broken the mould” for contact centres.

The “transformational journey” began with Lynda listening to the team and asking them what they would change. This led to a move away from the heavy focus on targets, which put staff under pressure yet did not guarantee good service. Lynda also revamped the recruitment process, making it “all about attitude”. The company now “recruit the smile, train the skill”, making assessment of behaviours and attitudes part of the interview. This has successfully lowered the staff attrition rate from 32% (12 per week) to just 4%. The team structure has also been reorganised to offer career development, as well as secondment opportunities outside of the contact centre.

The most important change was in British Gas’ approach to customer service, using psycholinguistic techniques to help staff read into callers’ varying personalities. “Thinkers”, “Feelers”, “Entertainers” and “Controllers” all expect different things, and by picking up on these personality types staff can handle the call in the most appropriate way. For example, “Thinkers” are most concerned about processes, and need to be talked through these in logical steps. 

Lynda was adamant that by improving engagement and looking after the staff that work there, “everything else will improve”. The new approach is clearly working: employee engagement has jumped from 54 to 86 in just 3 years, and complaints have dropped drastically from 51 per 1000 to just 6 per 1000. “World class” service is around 4 per 1000. With 24 industry awards in the last 3 years, this is something the team is closing in onLynda is now developing what British Gas can do to share their expertise and nurture the future of the industry. They hold open days for smaller businesses to share information and skills which have been attended by over 2000 companies so far. Lynda also sees a larger role for British Gas to play: working more closely with the education sector to help develop the key communication skills and attitudes needed before people enter the industry, so that they are ready to excel within it.

The next Breakfast Club meeting will be held on 21st November, with guest speaker Graeme Leach, IOD Chief Economist. For further information, please contact eira@petersenspr.com or call 02920 549597.

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