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You be the judge …

6th December 2016 | Posted by Katie Deadman

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable year and as usual, I’ve been lucky to meet some great candidates and clients and engage with companies that are really trying to push the boundaries within customer contact. However, in all honesty they are things that I would expect to happen each and every year providing I do my job properly! So I’m here to write about something a bit different that I got involved with this year, something that was such an interesting and fulfilling experience that I couldn’t let the year end without writing about it.

For the last two years MERJE have been a sponsorship partner of the CCMA and as part of this relationship, MERJE get to sponsor one of the awards at the annual UK Contact Centre Awards as well as the European Customer Contact and Customer Service Awards. That in itself is great as our Customer Contact team here get to go to two plush awards ceremonies in London each year and hob nob with some of the top customer contact professionals in the country (not to mention eating too much good food and drinking too much good wine!)

But another aspect of this relationship with the CCMA is that we get invited to go and observe the judging process at a few of the entrant organisations each year. This year was the first time that I had got involved in this process and I had the pleasure of observing three separate judging visits, two for the UK awards and one for the European awards. Not only does an experience like this help me to do my job better as a recruiter but it is also thoroughly interesting to watch as a consumer.

Maybe I got lucky with the visits I went on, but in each and every one, there was a hugely passionate focus on getting things right for the customer and this passion permeated though all levels from Director down to advisor. Obviously, all of these companies face challenges in terms of their service to the customer, we’ve all heard about the supposed systems upgrades that end up being a temporary nightmare for the customer or the launch of a new product that doesn’t quite work properly at the beginning. But the point is that the businesses who are placing the right emphasis on service levels are able to overcome such obstacles because everyone in the function wants to.

That leads me onto the topic of employee engagement. It became abundantly apparent during these judging visits that the common denominator amongst the companies who have put themselves forward for these pretty prestigious awards is that everyone seemed extremely engaged and motivated. I never used to focus on the culture of the organisations I was recruiting for enough I don’t think but having spent time within companies where engagement levels are high and the workforce seem genuinely happy, it’s reminded me how important engagement is. Surely it stands to reason that if you have a workforce that all have a common goal, a common understanding of how best to get there and a common high level of enjoyment from getting there, the customer is bound to benefit.

After one of the visits, I wondered if it could really be true. Could all of the employees really be that happy and effective or had they just wheeled out all of the best ones for us to see?! So I interacted with the organisation as a prospective customer and any doubts I had were wiped away. I was genuinely given a friendly, informative and flexible approach across different channels that left me thinking that the company deserves to be up for some accolades.

So I’d like to say a big congratulations to all those who were nominated/got shortlisted/won awards this year. I’ve seen first-hand that it is a tough judging process and that the CCMA and their guest judges don’t pull any punches. They want to get into the nitty gritty as to what you’ve done that’s so good and how exactly have you done it. And you better be ready to back it up with a lot of facts and figures because a good story alone won’t be enough! But when you’re at the awards ceremony and you see how extremely happy people are to get a bronze, silver or gold award, you imagine that the effort and preparation they put into their entry and the grilling that they got before winning was worth it. Not to mention doing their day job exceptionally well which got them a seat at the table in the first place.

Darragh Lee, Senior Consultant, Customer Contact at MERJE