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Alliance Data - Customer Service Training Team of the Year


Gold Stevie Award Winner 2019, Click to Enter The 2020 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Company: Alliance Data, Columbus, OH
Company Description: Alliance Data develops market-leading private label, co-brand, and business credit card programs for many of the world's most recognizable brands. Through our deliberately different and measurably superior approach, we give our partners deep, actionable insights about their customers that drive unmatched results and lasting loyalty.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Training Team of the Year - Financial Services Industries

Nomination Title: Alliance Data Training Team of the Year

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

As providers of branded credit cards, we operate 6 Customer Care Centers and a remote workforce totaling 2,400+ Customer Care professionals who answer over 79M calls annually from our clients’ cardmembers. A critical component to the success of our team is a relevant and well-rounded training team to offer realistic and timely development options for associates. When new hires walk in our doors, a member of the training team is their first leader and orienteer to Alliance Data’s culture, values, and opportunities for development. Alliance Data is a hyper-growth organization, so the Care Center Training and Development team must evolve and take risks. Since July 2017, the training team has transformed from offering a traditional model of in-person, instructor-led learning events to a blended model of instructor-led training, virtual instructor-led training and digital solutions.

As much as the training team continuously seeks to stay on pace with trends in the Learning and Development field, our larger priority is to provide the most effective and appropriate training program for our stakeholders. Therefore, we’re strategic in our timing of launching new capabilities and technology by waiting until the right business need arises.

In 2017, we were faced with an unprecedented challenge of bringing on our biggest client to date and conducting their month long onboarding training without dedicated onsite training rooms. We began planning the first-ever virtual new hire training class. This event proved so successful and engaging that we immediately enacted plans to stand up a robust virtual training team to serve all members of the organization. In the year since the creation of our virtual training team, we have delivered sessions to over 6,700 participants, featuring a wide range of events: month-long new hire classes, hour-long reinforcement courses, and everything in between. The team itself consists of a dedicated Training Supervisor and 6 Virtual Training Specialists, all of whom have spent countless hours reimagining the training experience for Alliance Data care centers.

Beyond the internal benefits to the training team, these virtual sessions have increased Care Center productivity, reduced operational expense, and saved potential loss of revenue. For example, all Customer Care associates attended a training on negotiation hosted by the virtual team in summer of 2018. We saved approximately 30 hours of productive time by hosting larger sessions than would ever fit into a classroom. Since July 2018, associates are negotiating at record levels. The associates’ application of these negotiation skills has contributed approximately $450,000 in revenue savings. This team has become so integral to our ability to deliver on the demands of business partners that we cannot conceive of reverting to an entirely in-person method.

In addition to standing up a full virtual team in just over a year, the training team has become significantly more aligned with our stakeholders. In an independent survey administered by Bersin by Deloitte, 80% of our business partners responded that our training team was “effective” or “very effective” at “preparing you and your team to perform well in your current role.”

The Bersin analysis went on to conclude that Alliance Data’s collective learning and development functions had a 70-point maturity score, 8 points above the benchmark for high-impact learning organizations. Across four categories of “Designed Growth,” “Guided Adaptation,” “Engineered Exploration,” and “Accelerated Evolution,” Alliance Data consistently placed at Levels 3 and 4 on the maturity model, affirming our ability to “create the right experiences and culture in order to empower individual learners to drive their own development.”

These independent findings from a third party are reflected in the increased partnership with Operations staff from the frontline level up to the strategic level.Care Center Training and Development has a seat at the table, from thought leadership discussions with our Vice President of Operationsto point-of-need support with phone associates,and is understood as a critical partner in realizing our Customer Experience vision.