I’ve recently visited all of the finalists for the European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards 2013 in the category ‘Customer Service Centre of the Year’ with my co-judge – Stuart Dorman of Sabio. Many miles covered and many impressive centres visited – indeed from Istanbul to Dundee!
All of the finalists should be proud to have made the short-list as yet again there was a host of good entries for the category of ‘Customer Service Centre of the Year’. This year over 40 organisations entered and the competition was tough. The thing that impresses me each year I do this is the level of commitment the organisations have to their customers and to their people – indeed, if all contact centres were like these finalists – there would be no opportunity for TV programmes like the recent BBC call centre ‘reality’ series!
So what makes a finalist? All of the companies demonstrate a huge commitment to staff induction, training and – most importantly – on-going coaching. As we know at Cape, coaching has to be both high on the agenda and seen as something everyone receives – not just something for under-performers. All of the finalists tell us about the feedback they collect from customers and – most – can demonstrate how they use the feedback to drive improvements. This means the customers’ opinion really matters and – as importantly – staff know that it matters. As always…what gets measured, gets done…and these top companies ensure a balance of measures that recognise the experience delivered to customers and not simply operational or business metrics.
In deciding our winner, we look for passion – an obsession with delighting their customers; for evidence of improvements made as a result of what customers say; and for proof that the experience delivered to customers truly benefits the bottom line!
But a new and very exciting characteristic is coming through when I visit the best contact centres – they are no longer just focusing operationally on delivering service excellence – they are shaping the overall customer-facing strategy of their organisation. By this, I mean that the contact centre is becoming the Voice of the Customer within the organisation and this voice is being heard; being acted upon; and is improving what the wider organisation – not simply the contact centre – does for the customer. This means the experience they deliver is better for today’s customer, for tomorrow’s customer, and for the business.
I can’t wait for next week – 2nd October – to celebrate the winner of ‘Customer Service Centre of the Year’ in the 2013 European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards.