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Learning hasn’t stopped at AO

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We’ve recently had to make sure our contact centre staff can all safely work from home, and things have been as busy as ever.

Luckily, we managed to get two Team Managers, Ashraf Matadar and Zaheda Chand, to chat about how the department has been able to hold training sessions and workshops to help the teams stay at the top of their game.

Tell us a bit about what you do at AO and what your team does?

Ashraf: I’ve been here about 7 years, but I’ve stopped counting to be honest! I started as a Sales Advisor and very quickly realised I wanted to move over to our Customer Service team and now I’m a Team Manager. On a day-to-day basis, coaching my team is a number one priority. I’ve got 14 in my team and I look after how they are personally, how they’re performing and if there’s anything I can do to help. I like to help keep the camaraderie going, especially working from home to make sure everyone’s in a good enough place to help our customers.

Zaheda: I’ve been with AO for 6 and a half years and started in a bit of a hybrid role between Sales and Customer Services. I got a mixture of calls from customers and did really well in the Sales side of things, so the team poached me and I spent a few years there. I rose up and ran our new starter Academy here for a year before being asked to move over to Customer Experience again. I looked after our Social Media responders and looked after new starters to make sure they got a feel for the business and how everything worked. Now, I’m an Outbound Manager with a team of 11 and like Ashraf said, helping them deal with any personal issues is a big part of that. I also help the team hit their KPIs and help to coach them through that, making sure our customers are as happy as possible. We like to ‘treat the customer like your gran’ and we live by that motto here.


There’s been a new training initiative set up in the department, can you tell us about that?

Zaheda: So there’s been quite a lot of different training workshops so far. Ash and I have both been on a few together: Growth & Mindset, Time Management, Motivation and Feedback, and they’ve all been really good. With the Growth & Mindset, if you feel like you can’ do something, you’re never going to do it. As a Team Manager, you’ve got however many people to think about and you can tend to forget your own mindset and you become comfortable with it so you might forget about growth as well and that’s what that session was based around.

Ashraf: They’ve been put out to everyone in the Contact Centre, so I’ve tried to put myself up for all of them. We tend to learn on the job, and you get guidance from your managers, so this training has been a big thing since Krish, the Learning & Development Manager, came in. I’ve not known him much before this, but he’s an amazing character and he’s brought his own style of training into AO, especially at such a tough time with the pandemic. He’s kept everything very open and engaging.

Zaheda: They’re all about us and what we need. You can say whatever you want, and it’s a laugh as well so you get to know the people in the sessions more.


How did he know the kind of subjects to build the training around?

Ashraf: It’s general training that all Team Managers might need. Time management, mindset and embracing change is something that we all need to know and understand as part of the role. It’s all been about reaffirming the basics.


We’ve normally got a room in the offices specifically for training, how was it working from home?

Zaheda: I’ve really enjoyed it. For me, I’m so grateful to work for a company that can shift more than a thousand people to work from home. For them to put in training with everything that’s going on now is amazing. I feel like we’ve had more opportunities for training in this time and it’s been really beneficial to have that. It’s been a bit weird, of course it has, but it’s been so enjoyable and so easy to just click a button and get in a meeting.


What have you taken from the training that you would do with your team?

Ashraf: I’d make it light hearted and engaging. The workshops have had videos and different activities to get people involved, and they cater to different learning styles, so they’ve been very visual and hands-on. I liked the way Krish has approached it and if I’ve been receptive of it, then my team definitely will as well.

Zaheda: For me, I feel like you’ve got to take a very human approach to it. Everyone’s different so you’ve got to be able to talk to people in a way that works for them. It’s nice to keep it light hearted, being available and making sure they have what they need. Let them know that if they make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world and it’s something you’ve got to grow from. Another important thing was to make sure you’re making time for yourself. As much as I’m helping my team and dealing with any issues they have, I need to make sure I’m managing my time and getting the breaks I need.