When the Levy came into effect in May 2017 it is fair to say there was a lot of nervousness from Providers within the sector.
The concerns were obvious:
- the Apprenticeship format was changing – can we deliver it?
- the way we get paid is changing – how will it affect cashflow?
- volumes will reduce – how will that impact on our employees?
Customers were equally as worried, we held a lot (and I mean a lot) of consultation meetings with our Levy paying customers to discuss what their concerns were.
Throughout these meetings, we found several reoccurring themes:
- Customers did not really understand the Levy, they did not know what they could use it for, or how it would be deducted.
- Customers did not understand the funding methodology, or how it is distributed across the lifetime of an Apprentice
- they did not know why this was happening!
What we also found from talking to our customers is that there was now a greater level of expectation and businesses really wanted to be involved in the construction of courses - they wanted to know the content and who was going to be delivering it. Senior representatives from businesses wanted to be involved and wanted to ensure that the content of the programme matched their strategic plans and growth models.
However, the two most common pieces of feedback that we got from every single customer that we spoke to were:
‘How are you going to ensure value for money?’ and ‘How can you measure return on investment?’
As an organisation, we approached the Levy not as a government funded training provider but as a commercial business. We knew that to be successful we had to have a good offer and a strong product, but we also had to ensure that the level of customer service was right.
Since the Levy was introduced Qube has had good success in both retaining a percentage of our existing customers and also in winning new business.
We did this simply by listening to what our customers had said:
1. Clear Information
Firstly we set about with a review of our marketing material, we put together clear information on the Levy and designed a clever reversible brochure that gave levy and non-levy paying businesses advice on what the levy was, how they could spend it and how it worked.
2. Detailed Options
We then built our own forecasting tool that clearly listed the Standards we would be delivering, then gave detail on the options around length of programme, funding bands and EPA costings. This tool also helped customers to understand how the funding profiles worked, how the levy was paid and how to plan their delivery.
3. Inhouse Investment
We then looked at the content and delivery options. We set about upskilling our staff, recruiting new talent and modelling different delivery options. We invested in a blended learning platform that meant our programmes looked professional and consistent, but the flexibility and accessibility meant not only did it make the content more engaging, it also meant that customers could deal with other concerns like off the job training.
4. Client Involvement
We also found that customers wanted to get involved in the delivery, they wanted us to include the things that they already did well and use the Apprenticeship to embed the learning from these courses.
5. Service Plan
The next step was to look at the service and be clear with customers on who would be delivering, how often they would be on site and exactly what they would be doing – this was key as customers view the levy as their own money, so they have every right to demand a certain level of customer service.
6. Comprehensive Reporting
The final step was the reporting - capturing the information that demonstrated the return on investment;
- How has the programme improved staff retention
- How has it increased revenue
- How has it improved efficiency
- How have staff progressed.
We made sure that this information was clear and that the format could be adjusted to meet the customer’s requirements.
These things were developed through good, clear conversations with the right people within each business. The follow up has been just as important, so customers still have regularly scheduled meetings not just with the delivery staff, but also programme design and account managers.
We continue to build and introduce new programmes that align with customer needs. And last but not least we respond to feedback, to complaints and new opportunities – as any successful Commercial business should do.
Joe Crossley, Business Development Director, Qube Learning
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