We caught up with Bruce Howard of 4Life Direct - a Polish firm based out of Warsaw for this exclusive interview with President of ContactCenterWorld, Raj Wadhwani.
Raj: Firstly congratulations on your 2 Gold medal wins at the Global Best Practice Conference and Awards – how did you feel when you were called out to accept the medals?
Bruce: Extremely proud especially as I had a number of my team at the event who were able to celebrate with me. I also felt greatly relieved as winning two gold medals justified the time we put into this.
Raj: Going back in time now, share with us why you entered the award in first place and what you were hoping to achieve
Bruce: We achieved a number of milestones for our organisation in 2011 for which we received a lot of internal praise. However the purpose of entering these awards was to get an objective judgement of how we did when compared to the best in the world and to see how our accomplishments measured up at an international level. We felt that by entering these awards it was the best way to do this.
Raj: Can you describe the process you went through starting from the initial application through to presenting in the regional heats in Europe in June
Bruce: I recognised that the submission was important and spent a lot of time working on this. There is a temptation to focus on the presentation but I believe the time spent preparing your answers to the questions is more important. I was fortunate that I had help from our actuary in getting all the quantitative information together and then it was just a case of putting it all down in a satisfactory manner. It took a number of drafts before I was happy enough to submit it. After that it was all about the presentation and I found looking at winning presentations from previous years extremely helpful as it gave a sense of how high the bar had been set. Once this was done then it was all about preparation. Then practice, practice, practice
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Raj: The competition in Europe was tough, how did you feel you did on the day when you presented?
Bruce: I thought we had done reasonably well but knew the others had also done so. I was genuinely delighted when we won.
Raj: When you won in Europe, how did you share the news with your teams?
Bruce: Firstly by texting everyone as the awards were announced. And then first thing Monday morning we held a staff meeting and a played a short video we had made of the evening
Raj: And how did you as a team celebrate?
Bruce: We didn’t. The deal was we would celebrate only if we won at the global event
Raj: What did you do to share the news with the world i.e. not just your team but others in the industry and in general?
Bruce: This is an important achievement for the organisation and aside from a strong PR campaign post the event we used the branding prominently on our websites and other marketing materials, mostly notably on our TV adverts which are seen by millions each day. We are also in the process of putting signage throughout the centre
Raj: You must have been so proud to represent Poland in the global awards, how would you describe that feeling?
Bruce: Very proud as this was the first time a Polish company had made it to the global event. I believe Polish contact centres are the equal of the best in the world but perhaps due to language issues they have not participated much in awards of this nature in the past. To be able represent them for the first time was an honour
Raj: Now once the regional heats were over, what did you do differently to prepare for the global awards in Las Vegas?
Bruce: Back to the drawing board to re-examine our presentations and see how we could improve on them. It was more a question of fine tuning and tweaking and then practicing before the event
Raj: How did you find the competition at the Global level?
Bruce: I would hesitate to say the competition was stiffer but rather it was different. At the regionals you come up against companies very similar to your own and that in a sense makes it "easier" to participate. This is not the case at the global event which is more of a challenge but also very interesting
Raj: A big part of this whole process is competing, but also learning from others, for someone who is interested in best practices, how would attending this event as a delegate help them?
Bruce: In a nutshell getting a global perspective and a sense of what is possible in our industry. No company can claim to be perfect in every area and by attending you discover where and how you can be. It forces you to raise your expectations, a wonderful thing
Raj: And what ideas did you take away? Can you share a few that you really liked?
Bruce: Rather than mention specific items I would prefer to highlight two particular sessions which I found extremely useful: Best Home/Remote Agent Programme and Best Contact Centre Design Award. Both were filled with great ideas relevant to what we are doing in the organisation at the moment
Raj: So now after Vegas, you had a long trip back home, how did/are you celebrating with your teams?
Bruce: The teams are in the process at the moment of deciding what will be a fitting celebration so I will have to get back to you on that
Raj: Lastly, you hold the title as No 1 in the World in 2 categories for a full year, how do you feel about defending your title and competing for GOLD again?
Bruce: The sales and direct response campaigns that we entered were somewhat unique and not something we are likely to duplicate in the near future. Thus I am not sure we will be defending these categories per se but there are few others that I think we have excelled in this year, particularly in the IT area, which I believe we will be competitive in.
The awards take place every year - find out more at www.ContactCenterWorld.com/worldawards
About 4Life Direct:
Established in 2008 4Life Direct is a leading international financial services company specialising in making simple, easy-to-understand and affordable life insurance products accessible to the European market via direct-to-consumer strategies. It is represented in Poland, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United Kingdom and is recognized as the market leader in the field of direct selling.
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
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