Echelon wins 2009 Arts & Business People Development Award on behalf of Translink

By admin, Gaea News Network
Friday, November 13, 2009

The Prudential-sponsored 2009 Arts & Business People Development Award has been won by Translink for its programme ‘You Are the Difference’ – a cultural change initiative for the bus drivers and inspectors of Metro, Belfast’s public bus service, which was designed and delivered by Echelon Learning Ltd.

Echelon’s programme that involved the innovative use of actors, used ethnographical research techniques to determine how customers react to the delivery of service within their environment. Actors were employed as part of the research team to observe passengers’ requirements and how drivers and inspectors interacted with them as they boarded, journeyed and alighted.

The results of this research were replayed to the 750 drivers and inspectors using Forum Theatre techniques, where specific scenarios are role played prior to delegates being asked how these scenarios could have been handled better to ensure total customer satisfaction. Through this highly participative and interactive technique, a set of service principles was established and owned by the workforce – which was then trained in the necessary skills.

Nine months on from the completion of the training, Metro’s service standing - as audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers - has shot up by 12 percentage points, and they now hold the position of top transport provider in terms of customer service in Northern Ireland.

Echelon Learning Ltd, the designer of You Are the Difference, has now won five awards in the area of culture change and customer service initiatives for its clients. These awards include three National Training Awards and a National Communications Award.

In addition, You Are the Difference has also been shortlisted for two of the Institute of Customer Service’s prestigious 2009 national awards.

David Hill, Echelon’s Chairman, said: “This award has given us our biggest thrill to date. Belfast’s bus drivers enjoyed a torrid time during the troubles and to emerge with such a willingness to embrace change and adapt to their new role now at the front line of Northern Ireland’s burgeoning tourism drive does them huge credit.

“They were immensely fun to work with and they seemed to find the actors’ role plays eye opening, instructive and a hugely enjoyable way to learn.”

“The role playing produced tangible results,” said Billy Gilpin, Belfast Area Manager for Translink.

“Passenger complaints dropped by 30% and compliments doubled. There is a now a real legacy that we can build on across Northern Ireland.”

Chris Robinson, one of the actors involved in the research and training delivery, commented: “The project was great because it provided a group of professional actors with the chance of having a positive impact on the daily life of the people of Belfast.”

“I am delighted that our panel of judges understood that The Metro/Belfast Actors partnership demonstrates how arts in business can be a powerful instrument for a wider organisational development and a key factor of competitiveness,” said Helen Ellis, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations at Prudential.

“There is a powerful idea at the heart of this work. The power and passion of art can help make more fulfilled, well-rounded employees - which means better business.”

According to the Arts & Business Award judges: ‘This award goes to a partnership that embeds culture as a core element of employee development.

‘Belfast Actors developed an unusual way to improve the services for Translink Metro through a training scheme where actors posed as customers. This engagement gave drivers the confidence and tools to deal with real life situations and resulted in the highest customer satisfaction on record and increased passenger numbers.’

In winning the award, the Echelon programme beat shortlisted entries from:

• Legal & General / Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales

• London Business School / Chickenshed Theatre Company

• QinetiQ / Salisbury International Arts Festival
• Talisman Energy / Acting Up

For further information please contact:

Media contact: Bob Little Tel + 44 (0)1727 860405; Email:

Sales contact: David Hill Tel + 44 (0)20 8568 1500; Email:

About the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts

The Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts (Arts & Business) was founded in 1976. It was the first organisation of its kind in Europe and was based on a model developed in New York by David Rockefeller.

Arts & Business brings together business and the arts to create a better future for both. It believes that creativity can drive commercial innovation and provides consultancy, advice, research, training and events to make this happen.

About Echelon Learning Ltd

Echelon is an organisation development consultancy with a 20-year track record of delivering targeted communication, training and performance support solutions that really make a difference to corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations and professional bodies.

The company helps its clients create and sustain improved operational performance by developing high levels of employee engagement and competence that leverage their ability to achieve outstanding results, particularly in times of change.

Echelon publishes a wide range of business and management solutions that offer job support and lifelong career development:

Clients include:
International Management Group
Moat Housing
Sutton & Merton PCT
Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Ramada Hotels
Scottish Parliament
Institute of Payroll Professionals
Construction Skills
Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply

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