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On Friday night the London and South East Contact Centre awards take place in a glittering ceremony at the Park Plaza Riverbank hotel in London. Hundreds of guests from the contact centre industry are expected to see the winners announced in 12 categories.

NewVoiceMedia is really excited to be sponsoring the award for best Contact Centre of under 100 seats. As part of our sponsorship we were also asked to judge some other categories. It was a fantastic experience for us and here are five things that we picked up from our tour of the nominees.

1. Passion for customer service

The people we met and the sites we visited oozed passion for delivering great customer service. There is real pride in getting callers the answers they want efficiently and politely. The reality of well run UK contact centres conflicts with the public perception of off-shored poorly trained and resourced contact centres. We’re very good at delivering great service in the UK.

2. Customer Satisfaction beats traditional agent metrics

In years gone by it was all about average handle time, cost per call and scheduleadherence. Whilst these metrics are still important and measured nothing beats customer satisfaction. This might be the only call in the year when we get to speak to this customer so let’s make sure the put they phone down with a smile on their face, even if it takes us a few extra minutes.

3. The phone is still (and will remain) king

We met a varied range of contact centres over the week and the phone is still the primary method of contact. Social Media and Web Chat are interesting ideas, especially for Generation Y, but when you have a question that starts “Why” or “How” there is no better way to get it than by picking up the telephone. From the contact centre perspective the phone is also a much easier way to ensure your customer leaves happy and with a great impression of the business.

4. The term ‘Agents’ is fading away

With the focus on customer satisfaction and ensuring that highly skilled team members deliver a great service, the term agent can seem demotivating and inapproriate for the importance of the role that they perform. We are seeing an increase in terms like:

  • Consultants
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Service Executives

What’s in a title you might say? If you want your team to come in and give 150% every day then a title they can feel proud of can really help.

5. The contact centre is a competitive advantage

When contact centres first came in they were often seen as a cost centre – “our customers are going to call us, so we better get some cheap labour in to answer them.” This was then taken to the extreme with the off-shoring of the 90′s. But today a professional and efficient contact centre is a competitive differentiator and companies are using that to win business from those that are slow to evolve.

Companies that are leading the way put their contact centre staff on a pedestal at the top of theirhierarchy. After all – when did someone in marketing, or accounts, or the Board last speak to a customer and retain their business or sell them a new product?

We’d like to wish all of the nominees in all of the categories good luck in the Awards tomorrow night. We are very excited about the future of the UK Contact Centre industry and have been grateful to get such a good insight over the past week.

For more information on the nominees and categories for the London and South East Contact Centre Awards visit the website.

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