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What I learned Judging at the UK CX Awards

This was the first year that I have judged at the UKCX awards where I was fortunate enough to chair the “Contact Centre Small – Can Do Culture” category. A colleague mentioned that a couple of his ex-colleagues who had previously judged found it very rewarding and so I might want to experience it too. I must admit I was initially quite cynical.  My initial thoughts were, “I’ve been in the Customer Experience and Contact Centre fields dealing with FTSE 100 companies for over 20 years now, so there won’t be much to gain from listening and judging other practitioners!” How wrong I was!

Though the category I was judging was that of a small contact centre the ideas, enthusiasm and customer centricity was refreshing. So what were my takeaways from this year’s event?

  • Judges don’t do it for any gain – The reward from judging is purely personal, yes there is an opportunity to network during the awards ceremony at the dinner table and an after awards drinks party, but if networking opportunities are your objective then this is not the event for you. However, what you do gain is an incredibly honest insight to a diverse set of companies which all have a unique view of what is important to their customers and their journey to keeping their customer happy.
  • Empowering staff = happy customers: It was evident that the most successful organisations were those that empowered their staff to ‘Own the Problem’. Staff that were empowered to own the customer enquiry all the way through to resolution and not just act as a Front Desk were the ones that made the most difference. They were able to understand the customer problem and contribute to the analysis of where work flow processes were sub-optimum, thereby contributing to huddles and focus groups that drove the organisation’s effective transformation.
  • Anecdotal evidence is just as important as the best KPIs. There were many contestants which had excellent KPIs to identify problem areas with their customer satisfaction. This led to further research and projects to identify and rectify processes that needed change to improve the customer experience. However, there were a few that took anecdotal evidence and general customer feedback,  spotted trends on the ‘Mood of the customer’ and sought to change that pattern resulting in a positive ‘Customer Mood Swing’ trend.
  • A fancy technology to reduce the customer workflow doesn’t necessarily mean a happier customer. There were some contestants that attempted to deliver a better customer experience through a technical solution which just reduced the customer work flow length, steps and time. “That would make all customers happier”, I hear you say!  Maybe if that is your sole problem and they don’t need to make contact with you for anything else. But we all know just a short workflow doesn’t equal a happier customer. What happens when the work flow breaks and how accessible are you? There is no point in making efficient work flows if when things go wrong the customer cant get hold of you for a fix and has to wait days for you to get back to them.  Organisations need to look to beyond just technology and ensure that customers can: a) get prompt access to someone; b) when they make contact have their problem resolved quickly at the first contact;
  • Customer learning from digital channels must also be applied to non digital channels. It was encouraging to see that many of the contestants had such a high priority on ALL customers not just those that were digitally enabled. They were taking learning from all channels and applying them across the customer spectrum. I found it particularly refreshing that some call centres invested in immersing all their advisors in the full customer experience for the full customer processes as part of their induction. This is a lesson that perhaps some of the bigger players could learn from.

So my main take away was that because a contact centre is small it doesn’t mean it cannot function better than a big contact centre. This year’s awards has shown me that through empowerment of staff and effective team-work with a well-planned change plan small organisations can outperform larger players when it comes to maximising customer experience accross every contact channel. How many of the large contact centres can make that claim?

I would love to hear from other small contact centre change practitioners that would like to share positive change ideas that have worked for them that the big boys could learn from?

Also, if your customers are feeling that their experience with you could be better and you want to tap into my experience on how you could improve, feel free to make contact and I will get back to you with my thoughts on effective customer experience transformation processes.

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