Nothing is easy – I blame Lewis Hamilton

Nothing is easy – I blame Lewis Hamilton

I was watching the German F1 Grand Prix a few Sundays ago. It all looks so easy. Lewis Hamilton in his silver Mercedes carved his way through the field, overtaking, undertaking, and took first place.

All he’s doing is sitting down and driving isn’t it?

I do that. And I do it every day, not just on a Sunday afternoon. Plus, I have to contend with pedestrians, cyclists, speed cameras, roadworks and traffic. I’m joking of course, but the thing is, when something is done well, it looks so easy.

Until you do it yourself, you’ll never quite master it

Driving is one such example. You can read all the books about how to do it, you can learn about the mechanics of a car and you can sit next to someone and watch them do it. But until you do it yourself, you’ll never quite master it. That’s because, as the old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’.

And it’s not just driving either. Think about handling a phone call at your company. Sure, your team are doing it, but are they doing it well? Are they the Lewis Hamilton of answering calls? I don’t just mean speed (although that is important), but efficiency, prowess. Doing it so well that it’s made to look easy.

Telephone skills training is carried out in every industry sector – financial, automotive industry, government, utilities, and also by training organisations on behalf of businesses for pretty much anyone, because highly trained call staff means avoiding making costly mistakes in front of customers, which results in increased business and customer loyalty.

In short, with a portable telephone role-play system, users can practice and rehearse anywhere until they get it right.

Nothing is easy. Everything takes work and time to perfect. And that’s why I blame Lewis Hamilton. He makes it all look far too easy!

For more information about a telephone role-play system, or to arrange a free demonstration and test drive of the equipment, contact us online or call: Mandy Stephens  +44 (0)1323 765111.

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Room 101 – where crime busting calls die

Room 101 – where crime busting calls die

Recently, Councillor Carl Les – the leader of North Yorkshire Police force’s watchdog – said he wasn’t satisfied with their 101 service. The average time taken to answer a 101 call in August 2017 was three minutes and 35 seconds.

That’s a huge amount of time!

Would you wait 215 seconds to have your call answered?

Time 15 seconds. It can seem ages when you’re waiting. Add 200 seconds to that and you’ll see it’s a lifetime.

As more staff were trained, delays would be further reduced

North Yorkshire Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Will Naylor said waiting times for callers were lower last year, and as more staff were trained, delays would be further reduced, but ultimately waiting times were dependent on the volume of calls.

Cllr Les added: “We are now getting the message ‘we don’t bother reporting crime because you can’t get through to the 101 number’ and that’s not good enough.”

He’s right, it’s not good enough.

And what if that was your business? What if calls to your company were abandoned? Your customers would vote with their feet and go elsewhere.

Improving call handler confidence and efficacy

Sometimes, the issue can be the efficacy and confidence of the call handler, and that’s where a professional and realistic, portable telephone role-play tool can be invaluable.

Utilising a tool such as this during induction highlights where mistakes are being made and means they aren’t made in front of your customers, or potential customers. It also boosts the confidence of your ‘newbie’ and reduces attrition rates because they feel comfortable in their roles, having learnt invaluable soft skills such as how to speak to callers, and the importance of listening and questioning.

And a great benefit for ‘newbies’ and organisations alike is that if during training, a member of staff realises that call handling is not for them, it saves the employer time and money that would have been invested in the ‘newbie’ and that person knows that making calls is not for them.

To find out more about a telephone role-play system, or to arrange a free demonstration and beat the answering time of North Yorkshire Police, fill out our contact form or call: Mandy Stephens on +44 (0)1323 765111.

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“the change in call confidence from the beginning of the workshop to the end is fantastic to see”




Chatting with L & D Consultant from DixonsCarphone



What was the background surrounding you buying the equipment? In other words what was the business reason that caused you to look for this equipment?

We were introducing a new account management process which was to have a high focus on relationship building over the phone. We had no method of training our Business Advisors internally.

What is the target audience for the equipment?

All Business Advisors across the UK, store based colleagues working within the business to business market.

Did you explore any other solutions before buying PhoneCoach?

Yes, we looked at several options but the simplicity, flexibility & features of PhoneCoach stood out to us.

The Solution

What attracted you to the PhoneCoach system you have now?

The ability to use the system across different size groups by using more than one package when needed. The ability for someone to listen into the calls “live” as they are happening allowing for instant feedback while also recording the calls to allow us to share great examples at a later date or on the day.

How did it solve the problem?

We have been able to train our Business Advisors in groups of upto 24 which helps us keep the cost of training at a good level. Our field trainers have been able to provide a higher level of interaction with the delegates by sharing examples of good calls as well as highlighting regional differences which needed to be discussed which we were unable to plan before the workshops started.

How did you incorporate PhoneCoach on the programme?

We have used the PhoneCoach system across two national training initiatives covering 420 delegates. Every delegate has had a good level of practice at making calls as well as being able to receive calls and listen for the key elements that were discussed during the training. We have also been able to use some sound bites at our national conference to show how the training has benefited our Business Advisors.

What benefits has the equipment given
a) You, the trainer?

Greater credibility to the material, the learning experience was strengthened by the colleagues’ ability to listen back to the conversation; the trainer listening in to the calls was able to give clean feedback.

  1. b) The delegates?

Bringing the learning to life in a fun and realistic way meant that colleagues had the confidence to go back to store and make great calls as well as identifying what they were doing well and how they can make that call even better.

  1. c) The business?

The workshops contained four different types of customer calls and Phonecoach allowed the colleagues to practice each call in a safe environment. The increased confidence of our Business Advisors has led to a 2000% increase in outbound calls across the UK within a month of running the first series of workshops. This has grown a further 25% after the second series of workshops.

Are there any other comments you would like to make?

PhoneCoach has allowed us to give our Business Advisors real phone training for the first time, the change in confidence from the beginning of the workshop to the end is fantastic to see. The service and support we have received from PhoneCoach since purchasing the equipment has been fantastic and has allowed every workshop to run smoothly.


We have used the two kits both in the contact centre, and now re-visiting all the stores in 2018 to train more Business Advisors.



For more information or to discuss how PhoneCoach might fit into your training needs please call 01323 765111 or email


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“We have seen increasing conversion rates from enquiry to appointment”



Talking to Shaun Gallagher, Training Director, Vertu Motors plc

What was the background surrounding you buying the equipment?   In other words, what was the business reason that caused you to look for this equipment?

As a professional motor retailer, effective phone and internet communication is essential to the success of our business in today’s market. We needed the right equipment that wouldn’t let us down and if it did fault would be sorted without fuss and with little disruption.

What is the target audience for the equipment?

The equipment is used to train our Dealership Receptionists, Sales and Service Executives as well as the managers of those colleagues. We also use the Phonecoach equipment with our internal Call centre agents and their training as well.

Did you explore any other solutions before buying PhoneCoach?


The Solution

What attracted you to the PhoneCoach system you have now?

The PhoneCoach system I had worked with in a previous role and found it easy to use, reliable and was adopted well by delegates on the courses.


How did you incorporate PhoneCoach on the programme?

The PhoneCoach equipment is used in all Inbound, Outbound call handling training and recently into our Digital Selling module.


What benefits has the equipment given

a)      you, the trainer?

Flexibility to use in various environments, not difficult to set up and has good back up on the rare occasion it is needed.

b)     the delegates?

A more modern approach and less alien equipment for the younger users

c)      the business?

We have been using the PhoneCoach equipment for a number of years now and have seen increasing conversion rates from enquiry to appointment. Plus, high and consistent pass marks from Mystery shop programs when testing colleagues’ skills of handling inbound phone enquiries.

Vertu Motors now have four x Alpha 12 kits that they use in their various centres around the UK.


For more information, a demonstration or to discuss how PhoneCoach might fit in with your training needs, call 01323 765111 or email



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Come try out the telephone coaching kits at World of Learning, Birmingham 17-18 October

We have been more than pleased with the PhoneCoach equipment. Our course provides some very complex language tools. We have previously received feedback that it is difficult for delegates to close the gap from ‘training room’ to ‘place of work’. PhoneCoach has been a real gamer changer for us in this respect allowing us to immediately put the new learning into practise without the pressure of a real life customer. Thank you for a fast, friendly and effective service.”   L & D Manager, Northumbrian Water


Come and see us on Stand C180 and try out our portable telephone coaching kits, giving your staff the chance to practice and perfect their skills and develop their telephone confidence.

For free tickets email with your details and we will post as many as you want.

Look forward to seeing you there

regards Mandy and the PhoneCoach team


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Handling Complaints

So what is the best way to handle a customer complaint? We don’t have space here to go into full details, but we can provide you with 5 helpful tips that will enable you to take control in a professional and positive way.

  1. Always stay calm – even if the customer is angry and upset, keep calm and remember they do not mean to attack you personally. Do not try to ‘win’ the case but deal with it positively, remaining professional and cool, calm and collected. Listen to them carefully, let them know that you want to hear from them and wait until they calm down.
  2. Confirm that you understand their problem – ensure that they feel that you are hearing what they are saying; if a mistake has been made, say so. Use words to show that you understand them and repeat back to them what you assume the problem is, giving the customer time to react calmly.
  3. Get the key facts – now you can begin to take the initiative and ask a few questions; please don’t use a script but have a real conversation. Get as many details as you can and make notes.
  4. Give a solution – only do this when you have enough details, being very aware of what you can offer in line with the company guidelines. Never make a promise and then have to withdraw it. Always be respectful and take ownership of the problem, telling them what you will do to solve their problem.
  5. Follow up – a few days after the solution has been received, make a quick follow up call to the customer, enabling you to turn a problem into a positive gesture. This can turn a complaint into a customer referral or recommendation.

Resolving and handling complaints correctly will not only enable your business to retain customers but can also vastly enhance the reputation of your company.

If you are a trainer you may be interested in details of our NEW Handling Complaints’ training material. It is a ready-to-run training session that lasts between 4-6 hours. More details here including a free download sample:

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Elavon UK Case Study

Creating great calls and smoother transactions

In the world of merchant services and payment solutions there is little room for error. When money is involved, be it business to business, consumer to business, local transaction or international finance, the people involved need to feel complete assurance. That’s why global payments provider, Elavon, invest heavily in training their staff to be the best that they can possibly be! Having great products is one thing, but it is people who give a business its true value.

Elavon UK has offices across Europe (Ireland, Poland, Spain, Norway & Germany)  and maintains the same level of training throughout its operation. This includes in-house relationship skills and sales courses for all of its customer-facing personnel.

In addition to the benefits of the equipment, Mandy fully understood our needs and sent over some additional telephone training information. Jenny Lloyd-Jenkins, Executive Coach and Learning & Development Manager

Out of the classroom and into the real world

Jenny Lloyd-Jenkins, Executive Coach and Learning & Development Manager for Elavon, has been using PhoneCoach’straining equipment for about four years, since it replaced their in-house technology solution. She says that the equipment has improved the success of their training programmes, and opened up new possibilities of what can be achieved during the sessions. From being restricted to a classroom structure to being able to create a realistic roleplay environment, the PhoneCoachsystem has been a real gamechanger.

Elavon marks its delegates by an internal benchmark, across a 3-month period, throughout the company. This score has been seen to rise by approximately 30% since introducing PhoneCoach.

From making sales to building customer relationships

Elavon is committed to honing the telephone skills of its sales and customer services teams to enhance their success with inbound and outbound calls. Over the past 12 months, around 100 sales staff and 200 operational staff have been trained using PhoneCoach’sequipment. The delegates come from across Europe and can be based in any of the company’s European offices.

The delegates often comment that being able to learn in a realistic roleplay environment makes the training more engaging and enjoyable, and that they feel they can gain more from the training. Listening to recordings of each other’s calls enables the whole group to get better feedback and for the trainers to be able to share best practice. This is particularly useful in teaching delegates how to use talk-track guides in a personable and interactive manner.

Facilitating training an ever-changing world…

Like many businesses, in today’s increasingly connected world, Elavon is facing changes in its working methods and behaviours. This will include remote workers across Europe in the future, and the PhoneCoachequipment is likely to become an even more critical aid to facilitating their continual learning and development.

Elavon delivers payment solutions to suit its customer’s businesses…and PhoneCoachsupports them in delivering the service behind those solutions!

I felt happier trying out new things in front of my colleagues when using PhoneCoachin a safe environment Course Candidate

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Network Homes Case Study

Turning 20,000 houses into homes – by phone!

When you are dealing with big numbers, in a busy customer service centre, covering London, Hertfordshire and the South East, it is a sizeable task to respect each new caller as an important individual. But while managing 20,000 homes and marching confidently towards its 90% ‘total customer satisfaction’ targets, the housing association, Network Homes is committed to doing just that. And to build these customer relationships effectively, they have invested in the best help available…

Using PhoneCoach has massively enhanced the roleplay element of my training sessions, and the company’s customer satisfaction results support this. Rachel Taylor, Trainer

Aiming for a Positive First Response.

As the first point of call, whenever any of its tenants or customers have a question, query or need, each of the organisation’s Customer Services Advisors (CSAs) needs to be ever ready to smile and respond on the phone. These calls can cover anything,

from an emergency repair or tenancy enquiry, to a bit of a grumble and the ultimate goal for every single one is a swift resolution and an improved relationship.

For many years, the CSAs have been trained well above the standards normally associated with roles like these, in techniques such as creating a ‘positive first response’. They are taught the value of smiling down the telephone (try it – you’ll be amazed at the effect it has), showing empathy and taking as much time as they need to fully understand each caller’s needs. Network Homes have long recognised the importance of investing to achieve its ambitious results.

I didn’t realise how often I say ‘yeah’ down the phone – and now I know I can consciously make an effort to stop. Customer Services Advisor

Great trainers need great equipment…

It is often said that the best training in the world is only as good as its application and that learning in a classroom can never really prepare you for the real world. Well, Network Homes recognised this too.

Until early in 2016, the organisation had always trained its CSAs face-to-face with the trainer, and under the watchful gaze of everyone else. The roleplays were hindered by self-consciousness, the Q&A’s were led by the confident, and there was very little opportunity for constructive individual feedback.

I enjoyed the roleplay: it is a realistic way to learn from hearing your own voice and others.
Course Candidate

As soon as they met Mandy from PhoneCoach and she demonstrated their Alpha range of products they knew they had found the answer. Finally they had the equipment to convert a classroom into a real-world experience.

Roleplay becomes Real-Play and creates positives responses!

For Customer Services Trainer, Rachel Taylor, PhoneCoach has supercharged her material. She can now go into another room and make trial calls, out of view of the CSAs, and they can take away an MP3 of their calls at the end. The response from the customer service centre team has been enthusiastic, and the upward customer satisfaction results are confirming the positive effect.

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