In our last post, we discussed how CAKE People Development have been using Thinqi to create an engaging and highly-effective digital-first learning programme in response to the recent challenges of COVID-19.
With digital learning now an obligation rather than a consideration, let’s now look at how our friends at Just Mortgages have overcome these unique challenges with the help of our cutting-edge platform.
After all, everyone needs a happy ending during times like these.
About Just Mortgages
Just Mortgages is a member of the Spicerhaart family. Established in 1989, Spicerhaart is one of the UK’s most innovative estate agency groups, combining the largest independent residential sales and residential lettings branch network with a rapidly growing mortgage and protection services and legal business.
Just Mortgages has a wealth of knowledge and experience within mortgage services, supporting thousands of home-buyers with their mortgage and protection needs every year. Just Mortgages’ success is attributed to their focused ambition to be the best at what they do with the emphasis on delivering the ultimate customer experience.
In this success story, we speak to Jacky Rawlinson, who was hired as Digital Learning Manager for Just Mortgages. Her role was to source the right technological solution to deliver the best modern learning experience at Just Mortgages – something we were only too happy to fulfil.
Previously, all induction training at Just Mortgages was carried out face-to-face at their training centre in Bedford.
“The regional trainers would go out to team meetings and all induction training would be held face-to-face,” explains Jacky. “The induction would include two weeks in hotels in Bedford, which ended up a very expensive thing to do.”
Along with food and accommodation costs, there were other hurdles to overcome.
“Two weeks is a large chunk of time out for an induction for anybody,” says Jacky. “This possibly limited the attraction for the talent pool and may have put people off going for jobs simply because they felt they couldn’t be away from home for a full two weeks. Then there’s the time for the trainers to consider as well.”
Jacky’s manager, Rodney Sloan, recognised that it was time for change and tasked Jacky with finding the right learning management system (LMS) for their needs. With an array of different product choices, all with a range of different features, finding the right LMS is not a task to be taken lightly. Prices, capabilities and bespoke needs will differ between every organisation and vendor; thus finding the right fit can be a challenge.
With Jacky’s strong digital background – primarily in marketing, but also in L&D as an apprenticeship assessor – her ability to merge these two skills was recognised as conducive to moving things forward and training more people as the business grows.
For Just Mortgages, the future was digital and there had never been a more appropriate time to prove it.
So, what was it about Thinqi that made Jacky feel it was the right fit for Just Mortgages?
“Rodney told me as he was interviewing me that there was already an LMS in another part of the business,” says Jacky. “However, I recognised that it wouldn’t suit our needs for the financial services side of the business, and so we decided to look at alternatives.”
Eventually, Jacky managed to narrow her choice down to Thinqi.
“Thinqi just ticked all the boxes for what we needed,” she says. With its alignment of values and GDPR accreditations from education providers, Thinqi was able to fulfil the stringent data requirements of the financial services side of the business. Having lived in Cairo herself, Jacky was also impressed by our work with the Ministry of Education in Egypt, where we currently provide the Thinqi LMS to Egypt’s teachers and students, which constitutes an integral part of the successful Egyptian Knowledge Bank project (EKB).
So, how easy was it to get started with Thinqi?
Very, according to Jacky. She says, “I had feedback only last week saying that it’s a really easy system to use. It’s so intuitive and has simple workflows – even for those people who find technology a challenge.”
Results so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Already, the learner record and the line manager feature has allowed the L&D department at Just Mortgages to identify where extra support is needed. The reporting capabilities have also been invaluable in helping to differentiate between learner knowledge issues and learner behaviour issues. “For example,” notes Jacky, “when looking at test results of 80% and above, this is indicative of a different issue other than knowledge.”
Jacky notes that the team has also managed to roll out a significant amount of resources on personal development, coping with change and mandatory content to prepare for the post-lockdown return to work. With the help of Thinqi, the Just Mortgages team are now able to turn out content faster than ever before.
So, what other significant changes have been observed over the last few months?
“We’ve now got the face-to-face part of induction down to a week,” Jacky reports. “We’re also currently able to track the learning – there was no way we were ever going to get this kind of analytics in classroom-based learning, and it allows us to be more diagnostic based on what the numbers are. To ensure knowledge retention, we now run follow-up testing, check that the knowledge is still there and give people opportunities to develop it so that employees can give customers a five-star service.”
Then there’s the cost. How much has a digital approach saved Just Mortgages in face-to-face training costs? Was the approach really worth the investment?
“Even based on a small induction, we’re saving roughly £450 per night for three people over a week,” Jacky reports. “Over the year, the system will have easily paid for itself – and this is just one metric!”
The next steps
With encouraging results already emerging, what’s next for Just Mortgages on their digital journey?
“There’s a definite demand for accredited learning now,” says Jacky. “There’s a huge demand at the moment to drive management and leadership training using Thinqi, which means putting plenty of great resources into the library and sending out push notifications. This in turn is starting conversations and making the learning experience so much better – learners are going away and debating things.” This is what really matters for Jacky: not just the learning content, but the overall learning experience. It’s a great example of the modern learning journey in action: learners take a constructivist approach by reading articles from recognised sources and then forming an opinion which they can discuss with their peers.
It’s an approach that’s perfect for developing leaders and managers within the business. “Our company is very stereotypical of most UK companies,” she says. “While there is an in-house management preparation course, managers have yet to make use of accredited training courses such as those created by the Chartered Management Institute. Thinqi has helped to lay down the groundwork for knowledge standards in preparation for those now wishing to pursue the Chartered option.” Discussions can happen within the LMS in a way that facilitates a social constructivist approach to learning.
As we mentioned earlier, 100% of training at Just Mortgages was carried out face-to-face at their training centre in Bedford. Following the implementation of Thinqi, 50% of this is now delivered online, with 60% of those questioned agreeing that they would like to see this approach becoming a permanent solution.
Moving forward for Just Mortgages, business goals will be ongoing. They’ve already achieved their aims in reducing the length of induction and the size of the academy, and they are only too keen to keep moving forward with the help of Thinqi’s all-new Virtual Classrooms feature.
“I think if we take anything positive away from this coronavirus, it’s going to be the utilisation of virtual classrooms to a far greater degree. No matter what anyone says, we’ve got to be more environmentally aware,” says Jacky. ”As a training team we’ve probably covered in excess of 100,000 miles this year. Could we have halved that through the use of virtual classrooms? The cost saving, the time saving and the productivity will all be improved too. Why spend six hours in the car for a two-hour training session if it can be delivered virtually? By reducing our mileage, we’re not only helping the environment but we’re saving a lot of money and limiting our own personal risk.”
As with CAKE, this is more than just a temporary shift for Just Mortgages – it’s the start of a long-term solution, and we can’t wait to see how our Virtual Classrooms feature helps them take their digital learning to the next level.
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