New training programme provides benefits for colleagues and the business

Published on 6 January 2021

Staff at The Cumberland have qualified in a renowned training programme used by companies such as Amazon, Toyota and First Direct.

Seventeen colleagues within the Operations team at the building society have achieved the Lean Six Sigma qualifications, which focus on the processes within the businesses and finding ways to improve services.

The training took place online due to Covid restrictions and has already led to colleagues identifying ways to make changes in the business to further improve service and value for its customers.

Stephen Donne, Head of Operations at The Cumberland said the training had represented a significant investment for the building society but had already demonstrated its worth.

“The operations team is made up of multiple teams covering lending, servicing and banking, with lots of processes, over time these processes have inevitably become complex and sometimes confusing for our customers and staff”.

“This meant we weren’t giving our customers the best customer experience, so we embarked on a programme to change this, which started by investing in our people, giving them the skills to identify problem areas and empower them to make the changes,” he said.

“We took this approach because it is the teams who know what isn’t working for them and in turn know what impacts our customers. This investment also ensures we are set up for today, but also for future years with a culture of continuous improvement beginning,” he added.

The training was undertaken by Neon Partnerships who worked with the Operations team to train and coach 30 colleagues through their first improvement.

Nicola Moran, of Neon Partnerships, said the programme had empowered people to identify real improvements in the business such as speeding up the mortgage application process and reducing the time it takes to pay invoices.

She said: “It has been fantastic to work with The Cumberland where customer service is already at the forefront of the business. Bringing the teams together through this training & coaching has shown how much impact colleagues can make to customer experience. There has been a real team effort in a challenging virtual world and the colleagues can be proud of what they have achieved so far.”

One of the biggest projects tackled using the approach was a detailed look at all the stages of the mortgage application process. Nicola explained how the colleagues had reviewed the effectiveness and efficiency of the process as they followed the customer journey from beginning to end.

“We looked at each element of the process and examined why the applications were going backwards and forwards in the pipeline.”

“The Lean Six Sigma training is a way of unpicking the challenges that build up in processes over time. This allows them to be more effective for the customer and the colleagues.”

Lean Six Sigma training was originally developed at Toyota and Motorola and has been widely used in manufacturing and the financial services. Each Lean Six Sigma project carried out within an organisation follows a defined sequence of steps and has specific value targets, for example: increase customer satisfaction, reduce process cycle time, reduce pollution, reduce costs, and increase profits.