When Caterina Berimballi began her role in the contact centre at Mercury four years ago, she had no idea that within a year she’d be promoted to Senior Customer Service Representative (CSR) and then, two years later, to Quality Administrator.
But that’s exactly what happened. And Caterina believes her fast-track through the customer service ranks was due in part to the on-the-job Mercury Contact Centre Career Pathway programme she took part in. A programme designed – in partnership with Skills – to upskill staff and provide them with a nationally accredited qualification.
“I was approached by my team leader who said I would be a great candidate for this programme,” says Caterina. “So I absolutely put up my hand. I was excited straight away.”
Caterina was one of 23 people who took part in the pilot programme at Mercury in 2016. The programme has since been rolled out with around 15 staff members graduating each year.
As well as covering workflow management, and stress and time management, the qualification covers modules around health & safety, the Privacy and Commerce Act – all of which, Caterina says, are highly transferable skills.
“We were exposed to how your individual statistics, such as call and wait times , affect the wider contact centre,” she explains. “So you get a good understanding of the bigger picture. It’s not just a singular job. What you do impacts the team and impacts the contact centre.”
As well as adding to her own knowledge base, Caterina says that being able to earn while you learn, and be recognised for the complexity of your role, were extra benefits of taking part in the qualification.
Her new role in Quality Administration means Caterina is now looking closely at interactions between customers and agents, and looking for ways to identify gaps in knowledge and areas where extra training could be required.
“Doing the qualification helps you gain a solid understanding and boosts your morale,” she says. “As you move along and start to understand things a little bit more, your communication gets better because you’re understanding the business better.”
Janet Tautaiolefua, who is the Manager of Training & Quality at Mercury, is immensely proud of Caterina and others in the contact centre team who have undergone the Mercury Contact Centre Career Pathway programme.
Janet and the team at Mercury, in partnership with Skills, designed the programme to help staff provide an even higher level of customer service through on-the-job training, and also to address issues of staff turnover.
“It’s been fantastic,” says Janet. “Of all our agents who have been through the programme, we have about 18 who, like Caterina, are continuing to develop their careers at Mercury. And they are working in all sorts of different roles – in Finance, ICT and Credit & Collections – so they have been able to show that they have the skills to do the job and really apply themselves. We were able to show the agents a real career pathway at Mercury.”
For Mercury, the programme has been proven a real success – so much so, there are plans in place to put other on-the-job qualification opportunities in place in the future for other areas of the business.
“We have several business units that are keen to be part of it,” says Janet “They’ve seen the graduation ceremony, they’ve seen all the hype and they are wanting to look into a qualification for their staff.”
So all in all, Janet says the programme has been a real win-win.
“For Mercury, the best part about the alignment programme is that it is using what we already had running within the business,” says Janet. “For the employees, they are like ‘wow, I can actually work, earn and gain a qualification that is NZQA accredited – so I’m learning new skills and it’s fully funded’.”
Janet says some the agents may already have had qualifications from elsewhere “but they want to do this too, because they find it really meaningful”.
Caterina wholly agrees: “I needed that understanding of customer service and contact centre for me to jump across and do this new role. So this certification, and the learning opportunities at Mercury, have definitely helped with moving across to that.”
If you’re looking to find out how you can upskill your staff and help keep them engaged in the work they do, get in touch today. Skills are your partners on workforce development and can offer a range of solutions to meet your needs.