Nationwide Building Society realises rapid benefit from advanced operations management

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Nationwide Building Society is the world’s largest building society and is amongst the UK’s top three mortgages and savings providers. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers and members and around 18,000 employees and their head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has several call centres across the UK.

The challenge

Nationwide are proud of the customer service they provide as the world’s largest building society, but in 2016 were looking for a way to take service to a new level. Nationwide believed that significant skilled capacity could be freed from existing operations to focus on delivering their aim of “legendary customer service”. It was no longer sufficient just to review past performance as a guide to tomorrow’s operational plans, but required breaking down the silos, cross-training employees and sharing skilled resources. To do that, Nationwide needed to take a leap forward in operational management capability and selected ActiveOps to provide new intuitive tools and proven training that would help staff to improve their customer service capabilities.

Mark Eaton, head of mortgage servicing, explained the objectives of the project with ActiveOps: “We were looking for a more pro-active and operationally efficient approach that would help us to empower our people while improving resource allocation across the entire operation. From time to time we would inevitably experience unexpected events that would cause a spike in customer enquiries and related activities, such as the annual ISA peak. Although these events are expected and planned-for, there are always challenges around recruiting and onboarding sufficient short-term labour and we believed that the “Nationwide Active Operations Management” (NAOM) programme would solve these issues.”

The solution

Prior to NAOM, the main response was to rely on our employees to work harder and longer until the workload returned to normal. Although Nationwide employees could be relied upon for exceptional support at such times, this certainly caused undue stress and could impact on the quality of customer service.

The Active Operations Management (AOMTM) Method enables ‘teams of teams’ to collaborate and sustain higher productivity through a consistent management framework. Better communication and improved control results in higher staff engagement and reduced stress. The “Nationwide Active Operations Management” (NAOM) programme involved the deployment of Workware and the ActiveOps management method in 12-week “waves” to 1500 Nationwide employees across 4 departments and 5 locations.

This enabled employees to log their activities quickly and efficiently whilst building real-time and historic, individual and team productivity profiles, which includes time spent on training and meetings and non-core activity. The Workware™️ software suite is purpose built to quantify work and time, measure productivity and efficiently manage operational resources in real-time. It enables capacity to be optimised for agile management of the entire operation which reduces costs and improves service delivery and staff well-being.

As the individual team and departmental performance data was made readily available, team managers could quickly identify where spare capacity could be utilised across teams who might need it, freeing the skilled capacity for necessary cross-training.

The results

Since the introduction of the new NAOM tools and capabilities, Nationwide have gained better real-time visibility of work and available skilled resources, meaning that capacity can be rapidly directed to the highest priority work.

Suzanne Avent, senior operations manager operations & delivery, discussed the benefits of the ActiveOps solution: “We are much more agile now because NAOM has transformed our culture and empowered our people and we can now offer our customers a much better service that puts less stress on our employees. This has given us the ability to retain our quality, well-trained employees in the business with an overall reduction of training time.”

The introduction of the NAOM method provided a consistent management process which enabled Nationwide’s staff teams to collaborate better, allowing them to apply the data insights and reports provided in Workware to react quickly to changing workloads. The result was a radical improvement in the ability to ‘load balance’ between teams, share best practice and identify skills training opportunities. Team leaders now openly share their capacity and workload through twice weekly meetings, supported by accurate performance data.

Nationwide excelled by applying this collaborative mindset from the outset. They quickly achieved important team-level efficiency gains and rapidly moved on to cross-department/ cross-location opportunities which generated significant business benefit very rapidly by matching skilled capacity from one team to peaks in demand which were occurring in different departments and locations.

Ian Craig, director of member contact & support highlighted what ActiveOps was strategically important to Nationwide’s operational objectives: “To deliver ‘Legendary Service’ you need to empower your operational leadership by liberating their creativity while creating an environment where a flexible workforce can thrive and add greater value. The NAOM solution has really helped us achieve this.”

Since 2005, ActiveOps has been committed to helping organisations improve their operational efficiency by helping managers and teams deliver their best possible performance. ActiveOps provide cloud-based software and services to meet the increasing market demand for back office workforce optimization and digital transformation.