Monthly Archives: November 2015

Over 1,000 individuals are demonstrating compliance and evidencing their understanding of Underground Utility Services

Working with Cognisco and specifically, partaking in our Underground Utility Programme thousands of individuals from workforces across the country are evidencing their understanding of underground utility services. From the pre-dig assessment to method of excavation.

To see the breakdown and results click here

Image to use on website


Customer Service Excellence in a regulated environment

The Challenge

Organisations striving to deliver excellence in Customer Service across a Multi-Channel environment rely on employees providing customers with accurate information and handling every query or processing every request in a professional, timely and efficient manner.

However, despite a significant and continual investment in Training, Knowledge Management and e-Learning, Customer Service staff often still make errors in handling even the most basic of requests.

These errors can compound to have an adverse effect on internal operational metrics and of course customer experience, which ultimately leads to poor brand perception, low Net Promoter scores and less than favourable showing in industry comparison tables. Ultimately it can and does lead to unfavourable Press attention and in the worst of cases, a significant financial penalty.


How can you solve it?

Cognisco shows organisations where there are hidden gaps in each individual’s understanding of any given subject or process that are causing them to provide inaccurate information or carry out a process incorrectly.

Using Cognisco’s my*KNOW platform the individual can then be directed to specific and relevant information or learning resources to help address the specific gap in their understanding.

Team leaders and Managers can track and monitor individual team member progress and the wider Organisation can more readily identify trends before they become problems and can more accurately plan and budget for further training and development, based now on empirical evidence of the precise need.

What are the benefits?



Reduction in Customer complaints Improved Issue Resolution Time
Improved Net Promoter Score Fewer Customer Call Backs
Lower risk of adverse PR Reduced IVR/Call Drop outs
Reduced risk of regulator pressure Basic procedures adhered to
Fewer Customer switching requests Less reliance on Team leader issue resolution
A more consistent Customer Experience Improved Multi-Channel Consistency


How do we do that?

Traditional assessment processes fail to uncover what an individual actually understands about how, when and why they should apply the knowledge (or training) they have been given in practical day- to-day terms. This means that even those who score highly on post- training assessments may well apply their recently acquired knowledge incorrectly when faced with a real life situation.

Over the course of 20 Years and countless thousands of assessments, Cognisco are able to evidence that on average up to 30% of any workforce will unwittingly have a low enough level of understanding to place the organisation at significant risk.


Cognisco’s expert Occupational Psychologist consultants and our team will work with you to:

– Design a new style of assessment that will discover and expose the specific gaps in employee knowledge and understanding that are causing consistent errors.

– Review and assess existing and planned training interventions and learning materials to ensure they are aligned to address the specific needs and requirements of your staff and the objectives of the organisation.

– Provide your staff with my*KNOW to access and take small, regular and focussed assessments and direct them to the specific learning tools and information they need to plug any gaps.

– Provide your team leaders and managers my*KNOW’s intuitive dashboard reporting to enable then to identify and address development or coaching issues before they become a problem.

– Enable the wider organisation to structure, plan and budget training for the future and to manage, monitor and mitigate any potential risks with my*KNOW reports.


Where to start?

Post an initial exploratory discussion we find a pilot assessment is the fastest way to identify the primary issue areas and agree a plan for remedial action.


Who to contact?

Martin Lynch

07515 995523


Download your PDF version here: Customer Service Excellence in a regulated environment

Cognisco Underground Utility Services Programme

Underground Utilities- Could your licence to operate be at risk?

The Challenge:

Every year across the UK, striking underground utility services can injure, seriously harm and in very few instances kill members of your workforce, and by law organisations and individuals must take the correct precautions.

Yet, despite a variety of utility avoidance tools, bi-annual staff training courses and Learning & Development programmes, strikes still happen. Couple this with a tendency from certain members of your workforce having a “we’ve always done it this way” attitude towards Health & Safety initiatives and procedures, creates an immediate risk to your organisation and staff’s wellbeing.

Industry Focus:

– Reducing utility services strikes
– Build and deploy competent and compliant teams
– Uplift understanding of Health & Safety around utility services avoidance
– Evidence safety and compliance of each staff member and team
– Meeting ‘The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989’
– Maintain Licence to Operate

Cognisco’s easy to implement, robust and effective Underground Utility Services programme provides you with the insight and evidence you need to:

Identify attitudes towards strike avoidance and health & safety initiatives, reveal knowledge and development gaps and set out remedial plans to uplift understanding by measuring:

– Risk taking tendencies
– Susceptibility to misinterpret what to do
– Tendency to strike utility services
– Best practice

Targeting areas for change in behaviour to:

– Increase safety behaviour
– Reduce reputational and financial risk
– Reduce the likelihood of a fatality

Many incidents from the past indicate that a record of employees attending a training course is not the same as evidence that they are currently competent nor do these courses provide any evidence that individuals understand what they are taught. By partaking in the Cognisco Underground Utility Services programme not only will you have readily deployable compliant and competent teams, you will be able to prove it too.

Using our unique methodology and situational judgement assessment scenarios, Cognisco reveals what your workforce knows and understands, misunderstands and how confident they are in applying their knowledge and the training they have been provided. By building up a picture of an individual’s or teams’ likely behaviour in certain situations and where any potential risks are revealed, will allow you to plan for remedial action.

The evaluation is delivered through our People Risk platform my*KNOW, which incorporates a seamless audit trail which can be rolled back to any point in time. Validation of ‘tick-box’ compliance, training and qualifications, directs individuals to the specific learning materials and resources which focus on the actual development requirements, which reduces the likelihood of any ‘sheep-dip’ training.


– Uplift in efficiency, understanding of H&S initiatives and their importance

– Visibility across workforces, engineers, teams, and roll back audit capability

– Risk reduction and strike reduction

– Competent, qualified and compliant workforce

– Build a culture of self-development and learning

– Reveal specific training needs for each team member

– Skills Passport feature vital for Safety Critical Roles

– All in one place: my*KNOW


To find out how Optimise are using the programme click here.


Customer Service Excellence? What’s (really) holding you back?

What can you do when despite all the training you can throw at it, all the knowledge management you can muster and all the away-days, intranet sites and e-Learning investments you’ve made, your customer service staff still makes errors in the way they deal with customer queries or complaints?

Operating with sophisticated products, services and processes, in a regulated and highly competitive environment is a constant challenge for any organisation tasked with delivering consistently excellent customer service. Couple that with pressure coming in the form of consumer comparison sites and league tables, a media all too keen to find and expose any possible chink in your armour and an ever vigilant and increasingly litigious regulator; it’s easy to understand why so many well-known and high profile organisations are placing more emphasis on getting the basics right.

The problem is that the solution isn’t immediately obvious. After all, most organisations of stature already have comprehensive Learning and Development tools and processes, in house training teams and their own Knowledge Management Facility too.


So what is it specifically that’s not working and what do you need to do to fix it?

In our experience, the first symptoms the business experience may well appear as a lower than expected score on Customer Satisfaction Surveys, increased Call Backs to the Contact Centre, increased Customer Complaints or a longer than average time to resolve a customer query.

This is often despite satisfactory or even good results on tests, training courses and questionnaires and despite there already being comprehensive learning and support materials available via an internal Knowledge Management system.

The standard response of more training and one to one coaching is unlikely to yield any real improvement either and this is often the cause of significant frustration for the business and indeed the Knowledge and Learning and Development professionals too.


So what’s the root cause?

1. Your people don’t truly understand what you’ve “told” them.

Are you measuring the RIGHT thing?

Typically one root cause is that giving people knowledge does not mean that they truly understand how, when and why they should use it. After all, the typical multiple choice questionnaire handed out at the end of a training course, can only really measure the ability to select the right answer from a list of possible answers more often than not.  It does not and cannot identify if a person truly understands in what specific circumstance they should apply their new knowledge. It does not and cannot allow for “grey” areas where there is room for doubt or ambiguity and therefore it cannot truly reflect the typical environment, pressures and dialogues within which we expect people to use the knowledge we have imparted. The typical response is to provide more training.

2. Your People are 100% confident they do know and they do understand – when in fact they actually don’t.

Confident incompetence presents the greatest risk.

This root cause is insidious and is often the most damaging simply because it’s very hard to uncover. It’s further compounded by the fact that in the main most of your people will come to work believing they’re doing a great job. They will believe wholeheartedly that the advice or response they’ve given to a customer query is the right one and they will be happy and confident that they’ve followed the correct company process and procedure along the way.

So, when you ask people to attend a training or refresher course on something they believe they already know and understand well, the evidence suggests that they approach the course with the wrong motivation; a desire and intent to simply “get through it and tick the boxes”, rather than with a genuine interest or agenda for re-examining the subject and challenging their own understanding and experiences.

While they may well “pass the course” they’ve done so by rote, chance or knowing the questions or typical examples that are likely to arise in advance.

The net result is that “more training” often doesn’t equate to fewer errors, complaints or delays in issue resolution.


3. The tools and resources you provide are not used to best advantage

How can you get more value from your existing resources?

Most organisations make significant investment in Learning and Development Systems, tools, materials and expertise and many have made an even greater investment in organising, maintaining and syndicating industry and “Corporate Knowledge” via a central Knowledge Management System.

The professionals that plan, build and develop the tools and materials are of course expert in their field, they know how to build a logical hierarchy of information and how to present it in a highly structured format. However, it is often forgotten that the intended user is not an expert. They will approach the resources with a very specific question or need and can find it intimidating at best and impossible at worst to know where to start to find the answer they’re searching for quickly and easily. And so, they tend to use the tools and resources provided infrequently (if at all) and that further compounds their lack of familiarity.

The information provided via the Intranet or Knowledge Management solution may be excellent but if the people it’s designed to help, find it difficult, cumbersome, time consuming or intimidating to find, they simply won’t use it all.


Uncovering your root-causes

We suggest you start by looking not at what your people should know but rather identifying specifically what it is they  don’t understand. So for example, to use a recent Retail Banking example,  they may know it takes three days for a cheque to clear (that is what the training states and is correct) however the practical application of the understanding, is that if those three days fall over a weekend or bank holiday it may take five or six days. It is the application of the understanding that is key to providing accurate advice and therefore great customer service; and if you can measure that you can identify what the risk areas and root causes are for you.

Once you can see where the gaps in understanding are, you can design specific interventions and provide appropriate learning media (see root cause 3) and resources to address it.

Find out how we achieved this with existing clients:  Customer Service Excellence in a regulated environment


Download your PDF version here: Customer Service Excellence whats (really) holding you back

Part three of Amanda Green’s interview with The Chartered Quality Institute on achieving Customer Service Excellence

Part three of three.

Why is it important to avoid a one sized-fits-all approach to training?

If you can identify who needs what training, where, when and why, then you can appropriately assign your people to courses, and this has massive cost benefits. For example, you could put 10 people through a very brief assessment to see what they know and what they don’t know, and then decide what learning or coaching each individual needs dependent on their level of ability. This is much more effective than putting everyone through the same 10-hour course. You’re just wasting time, resource and money if you sheep-dip everybody into everything.


How do you embed a standard of excellence into a company culture?

You need to standardise training and processes and give clear messaging across the organisation – with clearly defined competencies of what is required of each individual (this can be set by role, division or department). You also need a central hub of information that can be accessed by everyone. It’s a good development and competency management tool that helps to drive engagement and build a learning culture, resulting in excellent customer service.


You’ve worked with some big companies, such as John Lewis and Eurostar. Why are these organisations so good at getting customer service right?

John Lewis and Eurostar are prepared to invest the time and money to get it right. It is high on their strategic objectives and when it’s coming from the top there’s real effort being put into developing the right technologies, assessments and more. They also take it very seriously. These companies are not just saying they are good at customer service – they really want to prove it.


For more insight read our whitepaper: ‘Customer Service Excellence: Whats (really) holding you back?


Part two of Amanda Green’s interview with The Chartered Quality Institute on achieving Customer Service Excellence

Part two of three.

What does an inadequate service cost an organisation?

Reputational damage. At the very minimum your customers are going to talk about their experience to others, but on the other end of the scale they may walk – either way it generates a lower customer satisfaction score. It also increases the likelihood of your customers going to competitors. Your processes need to be clear so staff know what they should and shouldn’t do in any given situation.


What measures should be taken to ensure customer-focused service delivery?

You need to measure the level of understanding in your organisation to see if everyone knows what they should be doing, what the implications are of doing the wrong thing, and if they have the confidence to do the right thing. Measuring your team’s communication skills is vital but these skills come in many different guises. However, you could use observation measures – where you put two people in role-play situations to watch and learn from it.


How can managers help people excel in their roles?

Managers have to be able to easily identify where individuals have knowledge and behavioural gaps, and be able to remedy those for each individual without having to effectively ‘sheep-dip’ everybody into the same training. There may be just one or two areas an individual needs to develop but as a manager you need to have some visibility or way of measuring the individual’s capability. This is much more of a coaching/mentoring approach to management.


Discover alternatives to the one-size fits all approach, how to embed a standard of excellence in your company culture and case study evidence from our clients John Lewis and Eurostar.