From the Blog

Becoming Australia’s no 1 contact centre

Three years ago, EnergyAustralia set a goal to become one of Australia’s top 5 contact centres. In June they took the number 1 spot. 

Read on to discover how an employee coaching strategy helped EnergyAustralia to outrank more than 60 contact centres.

Improving customer conversations and employee satisfaction

EnergyAustralia started their employee coaching journey with two outcomes in mind, to:

  1. ensure employees see EnergyAustralia as an employer of choice, and
  2. ensure customers see EnergyAustralia as their preferred provider.

By focusing on these areas, EnergyAustralia would produce better results for customers and the business.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

EnergyAustralia recognised that by working with both customer facing staff and leaders to simply have better conversations, they’d be able to move the dial for both outcomes.

At the time EnergyAustralia didn’t have a clearly defined or consistently used  conversation framework for team members and customers. They knew that they needed to establish one – and use it regularly, however doing so had its challenges.

The first step was to explore what best practice looked like. By doing this they’d be able to identify the behaviours they wanted to see and what needed to change. Once a best practice framework was established, it needed to be embedded across the workforce.

Change management

Naming the behaviours they wanted to see was a critical first step. Discovering how those behaviours could be embedded across the 2,000 employees in EnergyAustralia’s contact centres was their next step.

The team leading this project at EnergyAustralia, Sean Francis and Karly Brooks, were aware of the pitfalls of performance programs that delivered initial results only to slow down as employees fell into old patterns. They’d been through performance development programs that promised results only to run-out of steam before full implementation. EnergyAustralia wanted a long-term solution. They were looking for a program that could grow with their staff and deliver sustainable results.

Specifically, EnergyAustralia needed an employee change management program that would integrate industry-leading practices into the daily habits of the workforce.

Using employee coaching software to manage performance

To implement this performance management program EnergyAustralia needed a customised solution that would:

  • embed habit-forming best-practice behaviours
  • transform employee culture, and
  • provide ongoing results where it mattered.

YakTrak was born seven years ago. Its founders, Brad Thomas and Peter Grist, had seen businesses invest in culture change and performance management programs which would inevitably lose momentum as employees fell back into their daily operational tasks.

Brad and Peter believed that a program focused on where the changes needed to happen ­­­­­­– at work – would produce ongoing results. They developed YakTrak to do specifically this. The platform was designed as employee coaching software that would support, inspire, and track on-the-job people development.

Contact centre
Develop your people where it matters: on-the-job

The creation of YakTrak also comes from a deep understanding of the 70-20-10 rule of people development:

  • 10% of training happens in the formal training room
  • 20% through performance management at work, and
  • 70% happens on-the-job.

YakTrak helps businesses to embed the 90% that occurs back on the job. The software ensures that coaching and training is front-of-mind when employees leave the classroom. This method and use of the platform encourages ongoing feedback, learning and coaching in the workplace.

Over the last seven years YakTrak has been used by Australian, Indian, Filipino and New Zealand contact centres in highly regulated industries such as banking, superannuation, energy, and insurance to drive performance and improve employee engagement.

EnergyAustralia engaged YakTrak in 2017 to partner with them and GRIST Consulting on the program to transform their contact centre culture.

Together EnergyAustralia, YakTrak and GRIST Consulting explored:

  • Defining focused outcomes
  • Embedding best practice across the workforce
  • Developing coaching capability and mindset
  • Improving customer conversations and relationship to compliance requirements
  • Recalibrating and adjusting the program to continue to deliver outcomes

“YakTrak has played a huge role in our success.” – Sean Francis, Engagement and Communication Leader, EnergyAustralia

Solving one problem at a time

To create an ongoing shift, EnergyAustralia knew they couldn’t tackle all of the challenges at once. By limiting their focus to one or two areas at a time they’d be able to track, measure and coach for specific results.

Focusing on bite sized chunks would show faster results than focusing on multiple outputs at once.

Embedding coaching across the business

To make sure the program of work wouldn’t be a ‘this too shall pass’ performance program, EnergyAustralia decided to play the long game. They were clear that while quick wins would be great, this would be a long-term project with a focus on sustainable practice. They were clear about the investment that would be needed to implement new ways of doing things.

This wouldn’t be a stand-alone project that isolated best practice and performance development in the training room, instead it would embed a coaching mindset across the business. The aim was to improve the quality and the quantity of daily conversations and behaviours of all team members across the business.

Incremental milestones drive ongoing performance

“This wasn’t a change that happened overnight.” – Karly Brooks, Head of Channel Readiness, EnergyAustralia

EnergyAustralia committed to the long-haul.

Tackling all the issues at once or setting a long list of performance goals wasn’t the aim for the program. They established that the keys to driving long lasting performance, would be commitment and focus. They agreed to:

  • instill habit-forming practices through coaching,
  • commit to a long-term program to ensure widespread adoption of the right behaviours,
  • focus on incremental milestones, and
  • pay attention to the areas where they’d be able to see results to motivate employees.

EnergyAustralia started by looking at the changes employees could make in the first 30 seconds of a conversation with a customer. By focusing on this one area they were able to gain some big wins that motivated frontline team members.

Team leaders are coaches!

With their role managing the performance of frontline employees, team leaders were identified as key players. In fact, the team leaders would be working as coaches and would be crucial to embedding the behaviours across the workplace. As on-the-job coaches these employees would be able to make a real difference.

EnergyAustralia needed to build the coaching capability of these key employees. Simply, by training the team leaders to coach their staff they’d be able to deliver:

  • a sustainable coaching practice, and
  • embed on-the-job training.

Gaining visibility

How can you train staff if you don’t have insight into what they’re doing well? And, more importantly, if you don’t know what needs attention?

EnergyAustralia needed more oversight into the conversations employees were having with customers. With more visibility managers would be able to see when best practice behaviours were demonstrated – and identify key areas for improvement.

Tracking conversations and tracking the employee coaching program would enable the team to gain an understanding of what was working, and what wasn’t. As a result they’d be able to provide team members with targeted support.

Developing coaching capability

With the help of GRIST Consulting, EnergyAustralia focused on the micro-behaviours that would improve customer conversations. The coaching program that they

EnergyAustralia’s Connect Program engages employees

implemented trained specifically for these outcomes.

EnergyAustralia created the Connect program to energetically engage their 2,000 employees. The Connect program was launched with off-site events, branded communications and merchandise, informative and inspirational content, best practice video and collateral, and leadership workshops.

The program was built into the standard workday experience. A team of coaches was trained to encourage and motivate team members. Team meetings, huddles, and the coaching cadence (operating rhythm) all became key aspects of the program.

Using YakTrak’s software

The software became a key tool – supporting the coaches, supporting the employees and providing oversight to management.

Built on the principle of creating habit-forming behaviours the platform was used to:

  • set and provide visibility of team leader coaching and meetings with their team
  • set and provide insight into daily goal setting and outcomes
  • log outcomes of coaching sessions, and
  • provide insight into the quality of customer interactions.

EnergyAustralia was able to measure how the Connect program was performing. They were able to see what was working and where they’d need to supply more targeted support.

Coaching the coaches

“Not everyone is a born coach – but you can coach them to be a fantastic coach.” – Sean Francis

Driving change requires leadership. EnergyAustralia developed the talent capability across their teams – they trained team leaders to become great coaches. They worked with staff in these roles to build their coaching capability focusing on employee feedback, performance, and management.

EnergyAustralia didn’t stop there. With YakTrak they tracked how their team leaders were progressing as coaches.

With YakTrak’s platform they had more visibility across a range of conversations, and they could see where and how their leaders were performing as coaches.  This enabled EnergyAustralia to see where the program was making a real impact.

Recognising that people development is a key part of driving change is a fundamental step – and tracking performance meant EnergyAustralia could support leaders where they needed it most.

Track the coaching journey

Tracking the coaching journey meant EnergyAustralia could see what was working and where they could provide tailored support. After eight months of insights, EnergyAustralia adjusted the program. They brought their onshore and offshore team leaders together for a targeted two-day off-site program to recalibrate what great looked like and motivate their leaders to:

  • Recommit to the coaching principles established
  • Hone team leaders’ skills as coaches
  • Be a forum where team members could share their experiences.

    A roadmap to embedding a coaching culture

Building a coaching culture

The team explored how they would develop a coaching culture with the aim of it becoming business as usual (BAU).

YakTrak’s employee coaching software was used by EnergyAustralia to increase the visibility of the quality and quantity of leadership interactions.

The platform was used to embed coaching sessions into the workday experience and a consistent operating rhythm was established leading to an increase in coaching frequency and quality.

Over three years, EnergyAustralia saw:

  • a 31% increase in coaching frequency, and
  • a 21% increase in the quality of coaching sessions.


Improving employee engagement

With the Connect program, EnergyAustralia was able to improve employee engagement by 13%.

Employee surveys, focus groups and discussions with frontline staff reported improvements in the positive drivers of engagement ­– including an upswing in the way staff view their leaders. This isn’t a surprise.

Employees respond positively to coaching. Team members required clarity around what they need to do to improve and how they can be successful. Meaningful, committed coaching provides this.

As a result of their investment in the employee coaching program, EnergyAustralia can happily report that their frontline employees see their team leaders and managers more favourably now compared to three years ago.

Reaching the goal – Australia’s top sales contact centre

By partnering with GRIST Consulting and YakTrak and an incredibly talented EnergyAustralia project team, EnergyAustralia achieved major goals:

EnergyAustralia celebrates its coaching success with YakTrak
  • #1 Australian Sales Contact Centre 2020
  • 9% improvement in customer satisfaction
  • 13% improvement in employee engagement
  • 13% improvement in sales conversion.

“YakTrak plays such a key role in our suite of technologies. Our people use it for visibility over what’s happening, and it also increases accountability. And those things are second to the benefits we see in people being able to track exactly what they’re doing and how they’re performing. YakTrak has played a huge role in our success.” – Sean Francis

In June 2020 EnergyAustralia was named as Australia’s top contact centre out of an impressive field that included more than 60 other energy retailers, superannuation & banking providers, internet & mobile phone providers, and life, health, general and travel insurance companies.

Over three years EnergyAustralia rose from 29th to become Australia’s number one ranked contact centre.Energy Australia


The future

EnergyAustralia is continuing the partnership with YakTrak.

YakTrak has just added a conduct risk module to help EnergyAustralia manage compliance within the customer conversation framework.

We’re looking forward to working with EnergyAustralia over the next three years to continue refining and embedding a best practise coaching culture.


Keen to transform your team’s approach to conversations and coaching? Contact Brad today.

Want to know more about YakTrak’s platform? Read about our employee coaching software.


Image credits: Tim van der Kuip and Mimi Thian via Unsplash