What made you enter the 2013 awards in the first place?
The Westpac Group has a bold vision: "to be one of the world’s great companies". Our Customer Contact Centres (CCC) have an equally bold vision: "to be one of the world’s great Customer Contact Centres". What better way to demonstrate progress towards achieving our our vision than to strive for independent recognition through the Contact Centre World Awards as the Best Contact Centre in the world!
What were you hoping to achieve in the process? Was it recognition? Benchmarking? Something else or a combination of things?
There are a number of things we wanted to achieve by entering the 2013 awards. Recognition (as mentioned above) was clearly important – and as much as anything we want that recognition for all our people who work so hard every day for our customers. Separate to that, we wanted to share some of our best practices in respect of employee engagement, customer service and operational excellence as we genuinely feel we have some industry leading practices in the Westpac Group CCC business. Equally, we wanted to take the opportunity to learn from all the other participants. Where else can you go to get such a concentrated "burst" of best practice sharing, and one that is so specific to Contact Centres?
When you were invited to be a finalist, what was your reaction and how did you share this with your co-workers?
We were absolutely delighted to be invited to be a finalist. We immediately shared it with our co-workers via Twitter and Facebook - the quickest way to get a message out these days! We also shared it on the night via SMS with several of the Westpac Group executives (including our CEO, Gail Kelly). On our return to Australia, we continued to reinforce the news of our success in the Asia Pacific by getting our "story" headlined on the Westpac Group newsroom, a high profile intranet site that reaches the Group’s [36,000] employees. You can’t tell a good news story often enough!
You were asked to prepare a presentation, how did you decide what to include and what to share?
We wanted to make sure the presentation covered all of the required topics: strategy, employee engagement, technology, future plans, etc. We felt it was important however to cover that material in an engaging and memorable way – and perhaps most importantly in a way that would make it easy to understand and "transport" our tips and best practices. We spent a lot of time asking ourselves "what’s the best way to help everyone understand this initiative, so they can consider using it in their Contact Centre".
How did you feel about sharing with your peers – including those competing against you?
There is obviously some challenges with sharing information with peers who are in the same industry (banking) and the same country (Australia) as ourselves. After all, most of the time we slugging it out against each other in a very competitive marketplace! I think the Contact Centre World awards environment however provides a "safe" place to share ideas and best practices. Why? Because all of us who are there are very united in our basic purpose: to provide our customers with the best possible Contact Centre experience. With this in common, sharing best practice becomes a positive and uplifting thing to do.
How would you describe the value of the conference to someone who has never been before – especially someone coming just to hear best practices?
I think I am well placed to answer this, as the Asia Pacific awards in Singapore in June 2013 was the first Contact Centre World event I have ever attended. In short, the best practice comes "thick and fast" over the several days of the conference, and on such a wide variety of themes: sales campaigns, team leadership, outsourcing, incentive schemes, technology, [other], and more! I had the opportunity to be a judge on one day of the awards, and it was hugely valuable as it encouraged me to focus on and distil the key messages and best practices in each presentation. Separating the performance of the speakers and their presentations was often not an easy thing!
How did you feel before and after presenting?
No matter how much practice you do, there are always nerves before your present. After all, you know are standing up there in front of some of the best Contact Centre people in the world! At the Asia Pacific awards in June, the presentation I gave with my colleague Antoine Casgrain was the very last presentation of the week. I think as a result of that, there was both a sense of relief - that we’d finally been able to "get our story out" - but also a bit of a sense of sadness that the week was coming to a close. Fortunately we still had the gala dinner ahead of us at that point, and therefore plenty more socialising, sharing and excitement ahead.
How would you describe the gala dinner?
The gala dinner was a terrific event. From the moment we walked in it had a very special feel: fancy hotel, black tie guests, red carpet, iced cocktails circulating, Raj doing mini-interviews to camera with guests, etc. It helped build the excitement for the night ahead. The awards part of the evening was very well organised. There were a lot of awards and winners to announce, but it was done with the perfect pace and with real enthusiasm, which kept everyone entertained and engaged. There was definitely a buzz in the room as winners for each category were announced. I think the atmosphere though made everyone feel like a winner on the night … just for being there.
As a GOLD winner, how did you feel being called on stage to receive your award?
I remember standing off to the side of the stage with my colleague Antoine Casgrain. We were quietly confident, but there is always that sense of uncertainty because you never know quite how the judges will have scored the different presentations on the day – especially when they are all of high quality. When we heard we’d won GOLD, I must admit there was a real rush of emotion and a huge sense of achievement. We put so much effort into building and leading a world class Contact Centre business, so being independently recognised for what we’ve done by an organisation like Contact Centre World is hugely rewarding.
How did you celebrate your win at your company?
The real celebration was with our Contact Centre people. We have 2000 people in 8 Contact Centres across the country, and they are the real heroes of the success we achieved. They are all very familiar with our vision to be one of the world’s great Customer Contact Centres, so this was such an important piece of recognition for them. We had special morning tea celebrations in each of our Centres for our Asia Pacific win … but we were careful not celebrate too much. Why? We’ve got the Contact Centre World finals ahead of us in Las Vegas in November … so our journey is not over yet!
How has entering and winning this award changed your company and motivation?
One of the many things winning the award has done is help us place our Contact Centres "on the map" within the Westpac Group. Whenever you have industry recognition at a regional or global level, senior people in the organisation will sit up and take notice. This is a great outcome for all of the people in our Contact Centres. Antoine and I know what a fantastic job they do every day for their customers, but their amazing efforts and achievements can sometimes be less well known and understood in other parts of the business. It is so satisfying to see them being put in the spotlight – because they thoroughly deserve it
Now you are eligible to compete against the Best in the World in Las Vegas – how do you feel about that and how are you planning for this?
There is a huge thrill associated with competing against the Best in the World. It’s like going to your very own Olympics! As much as anything, our preparation is all about making sure we continue to do a great job every single day of leading and running our Contact Centres. For us this means excelling at four things: (i) creating an even greater place to work for our people; (ii) delivering the highest quality of service for our customers; (iii) deepening relationships with our customers; and (iv) operating smarter to invest in our future. When we focus our efforts on this, we find that we have no shortage of best practices to share, and our "story" for Las Vegas becomes much easier to tell and to share.
Any final comments you would like to share about the whole process?
We focus a lot on Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a key customer metric in our business. NPS is all about customer advocacy and what a powerful force it can be in building a strong and sustainable business. If I had to give the Contact Centre World awards an NPS score based on my experience of it to date it would be a 10. I’m definitely a "promoter"!
You and your company can learn from industry leaders on how to increase performance and productivity, avoid HR challenges, improve customer service and much more. Don't miss out on this amazing learning and networking opportunity! Visit www.ContactCenterWorld.com/conferences for conferences. For more information on how you can take part in this prestigious and sought after awards program for the best of the best in the industry visit www.ContactCenterWorld.com/worldawards
About Westpac Banking Corporation:
Westpac, is a multinational Financial services company and became the largest bank in Australia (by market capitalisation) after it took over St George, and the second-largest bank in New Zealand.
Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
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