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Phoenix Group: “We go above and beyond to engage both colleagues and customers”

4 minute read

An interview with the winner of two categories in the 2023 Engage Awards

At the end of last year, we held our annual Engage Awards, celebrating excellence and innovation in customer and employee engagement. One organisation stood out at the Awards Ceremony in November, earning not one but TWO trophies. More specifically, the UK’s largest long term savings and retirement business Phoenix Group received the Best Customer and Employee Engagement Programme Award as well as the Best Use of Innovation in Employee Engagement award. 

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR DOUBLE WIN IN THE 2023 ENGAGE AWARDS! WHAT DOES WINNING IN TWO CATEGORIES MEAN TO YOUR ORGANISATION?

We’re absolutely delighted with both awards.

Each award is recognition of the hard work and determination of our colleagues to go above and beyond to engage both colleagues internally and customers externally.

Phoenix’s culture gives us the opportunity to listen to our peers and customers about their experiences and what is important to them. This insight inspires us to design both innovative workplace environments and exceptional customer services that we’re proud to deliver.  

PHOENIX GROUP WAS RECOGNISED FOR RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF CONSUMERS DISPLAYING VULNERABILITY CHARACTERISTICS. WHAT DOES YOUR VULNERABLE CUSTOMER TRAINING PACKAGE CONSIST OF?

Our Vulnerable Customer Training package consists of 4 key components:

  • Our Award-Winning Vulnerable Customer E-Learning.
  • A 6-hour in-person workshop.
  • Our Listening Wheel E-Learning, created with our charity partners, Samaritans.
  • Comprehensive online resources.

Building consistency and excellence for vulnerable customers is not a ‘project’ – it takes continuous effort and an ever-evolving approach. We have demonstrated a new approach by packaging resources into one comprehensive offering across the group. Our approach now brings alignment and consistency of excellence for all colleagues, regardless of where you work in our business. Since entering this award, our overall training package is now accredited with The Institute of Customer Service which we’re incredibly proud of.

Phoenix Group - CUSTOMER

WHAT IS THE ‘EMPATHY GAP’ AND HOW DO YOU ADDRESS IT AT PHOENIX GROUP?

Our colleagues are of different ages, from varying backgrounds, with different experiences. Fortunately, many haven’t experienced vulnerability, which results in an ‘empathy gap’. 

The ‘empathy gap’ emerges when you struggle to relate to a person’s experience as you haven’t experienced the same or similar yourself. We have a three-pronged training approach to help close this empathy gap and bring colleagues closer to the challenges our customers may face:

  • Behavioural: Devised with behavioural science specialists, training helps colleagues understand behavioural bias, e.g., a cost-of-living exercise demonstrating financial hardship.
  • Physical: Simulation glasses limit sight helping us design with better accessibility. Gloves from Cambridge University limit movement, simulating arthritis/stroke aftereffects. We have a hearing impairment exercise, a colour blindness simulator, and a shaking app replicating Parkinson’s.
  • Virtual Reality: Puts colleagues in a vulnerable customer conversation. You meet a real-life agent who talks about her passion for supporting vulnerable customers. It’s powerful, emotive, and memorable. 

YOU RECEIVED THE BEST USE OF INNOVATION IN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AWARD FOR YOUR DEVELOPMENT OF THE PHOENIX COLLEAGUE REPRESENTATION FORUM (PCRF). CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THIS FORUM?

Today's business is continually evolving, colleagues expect to have a voice on topics that impact them and, more than ever, change is part of their working lives. 

We believe that the colleague voice enhances conversations and creates a wider picture of the colleague experience in their working lives. This is why we created PCRF and a partnership agreement, in collaboration with Phoenix, where we work together to find solutions and enhance change on all topics impacting colleagues' working lives. This partnership ensures the colleague voice is discussed at the early stages of decisions on topics like organisational change, pay, reward, policy and initiatives. 

The partnership culture improves colleague engagement, connects colleagues to the business strategy, improves organisational culture, and raises levels of retention.

There are PCRF Reps in every Phoenix UK location to give all colleagues easy access to PCRF services and the opportunity to share their views on local and organisational topics. 

FINALLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ORGANISATIONS SEEKING TO ELEVATE THEIR CUSTOMER AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IN 2024?

Engagement, whether colleague or customer, is the strength of connection an individual or group has to the organisation, and this can take time to build. What’s most important is making sure that you take the time to listen to and respond to what is being said about the organisation – it’s a two-way street that requires a culture of trust and respect to succeed. 

At Phoenix Group, we run a monthly continuous listening survey which provides a platform for colleagues to share their views with their managers in an anonymous and psychologically safe way and enables their managers to respond to them directly. 

We also support through our Phoenix Colleague Representation Forum where we collate the colleague voice through our Rep network. The PCRF regularly share what’s important to colleagues with Phoenix leadership and a member of the Phoenix board, bringing to life colleague’s experience of working for Phoenix.  

For our customers, listening is key. What do our customers tell us through surveys, Voice of Customer, and interactions with us? Listening to our customers helps us make an experience that meets their needs and allows them to engage with us in a way that suits them. Providing knowledge and information that can be accessed easily, allowing them to be in control of their own information and making complex information simpler to understand all help to elevate customer engagement.

Entries for the 2024 Engage Awards will open on the 1st of February.

Learn more about the Engage Awards here.

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