To View A Video Interview With Tim Cheesewright - Gold Medal Winner From The Contact Center World Awards - Click Here
Viva Las Vegas!
This year, the much-awaited Contact Center World Awards were held in Las Vegas, the city of glamour, glitter and lots of casinos.
We arrived in Las Vegas three days before the big event, and immediately were struck by the extravagance of the little town. We got straight into tourist mode and arranged a trip to see the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam via helicopter, a trip that I would totally recommend to anyone visiting Las Vegas. We spent day two down at the famous casino strip, MGM and Caesar’s Palace. Someone mentioned that Elton John was playing his famous red piano tour at the stadium built for Celine Dion. We enquired and were lucky to get front row seats for the show. Again, if you’re in Vegas you really must take the time to see one of the many shows that play there. We spent the next day by the pool enjoying the magnificent sunshine. Vegas only receives twelve centimeters of rainfall per year, so if you get there and it’s raining, your luck is probably not with you. After three days of sightseeing, playtime was over and we were primed and ready for the second annual Contact Center World Awards for contact center professionals and their organisations.
Day one of the big event had finally arrived. The journey to get here took almost twelve months. Over six hundred companies put themselves forward to be the best in their field and first in their region. The best companies competed in their respective regions; Europe-Middle East and Africa, Asia–Pacific and the Americas, and the regional winners then pitted themselves against each other in Las Vegas. Thirty-two companies were now in the running for the Contact Center World Awards but there could only be eleven winners. This unique awards system had attracted some of the largest companies in the world. The people who hadn’t made it to the finals this year were already licking their wounds and preparing for next year.
The first day the group met and was welcomed by the president of Contact Center World, Raj Wadhwani. Each of the finalists was to give a presentation in the category for which they were nominated. By the end of the first presentation which was for the ‘Best trainer’, I knew that these people were here to win and that if you were not at the top of your game you would stand no chance at all.
Having been in the contact center industry for over twenty years, both in Australia and Overseas, and a past president of the Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA), I was not expecting to pick up very many new things. However, by the end of the first hour I had a whole page of notes, ideas and questions. I was amazed. Surely it couldn’t continue like this!
Let The Competition Begin
No other awards in the contact center industry have been set up like this. Here, the audiences were the real judges, so you had to prove yourself in front of people that knew exactly how the industry worked. Marketcom, our company, had been nominated in the outbound campaign area and I knew I had tough competition. My presentation came and my competitors’ followed, after which we had a session of questions (or should I say a grilling). If you’d put something in your presentation that was not properly explained or your facts were not a 100% accurate, you were definitely going to be caught out. I knew I had survived when my Aussie colleagues from the NAB gave me a smile and thumbs up. I could relax now and enjoy the rest of the conference. I thought I might even get down to the pool on day two.
The intensity and quality of the presentations and presenters continued through the entire day. The presenters for the ‘Best Supervisor’ award were so impressive I made sure to say hi, handed them my business card and offered them employment if they were ever in Melbourne.
The night came and there was a relaxing game of bowling planned for the evening. This will be fun, I thought. It most definitely was interesting because if you put a group of people who are driven in their pursuit to be the best, the competitive spirit doesn’t change when you put them together for a simple game of ten-pin bowling.
Day Two - Battle Of The Best
Day two began and I was interested to see whether the presentations were going to be of the same intensity and excellence that was demonstrated on day one. After the first few presentations of the day, I thought it had moved up a notch. The ‘Best team-leader’ award was fought out between three massive companies, HP, NAB and Sitel. First up was Steve Collier from NAB with twenty minutes of insight into ‘what it takes to be a good leader’. A terrific presentation that I knew would be really hard to beat. Next up was HP and that was impressive too. The competition was heating up and it was hard to decide between the two. Last but not least was Sitel with a very different presentation, which was again excellent. Clearly you could see why they were the Best of the Best. These presentations gave me another two pages of notes and ideas to think about. Being so engrossed in the conference, I didn’t get a chance to even think about going down to the pool. Some people who had only booked for day one were still there on day two, they had rescheduled flights and it was quite obvious why.
The last presentation of the day was for the ‘Best Contact Center’ award for 250+ seats. Once again NAB was featured and was up against Cross Country and Sitel Thus, followed three more fantastic presentations. I was in awe of the level of enthusiasm that everyone brought to the event. Once all was done, we could relax until the next night when our fate would be known.
That night was Halloween, and as anyone who has been to the States knows, this is a huge celebration. We had VIP tickets arranged at the nightclub and true to form like all contact centre professionals, we made the best of the evening. There was a cash prize of US $10,000 for the best costume. This was Vegas and in true Vegas Style some of the costumes were amazing and quite revealing. A special mention should be made to Raj and Chris from Contact Center World for wearing French maid uniforms. It was a great night and a great chance to rub shoulders with people who were clearly the leaders in the industry.
Day Three – Trade Secrets
Day three was where we had the chance to talk and explore ideas in an open forum. Never before have I had the opportunity to talk freely and ask questions about companies operations, secrets, leadership styles, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and problems from technology to staffing. There was a discussion on the hot topic of worlds’ best practice and it was decided from the group that we needed to rethink what this was. The customer, their needs and what they demanded had changed. Yet, we were still rolling out the old 90% calls answered in 20 seconds rule, when a lot of the leading companies were now suggesting that the number one KPI should be first call resolution.
The Gala Awards - A Night of Nights
It was like attending the Brownlow. All dressed up with partners, almost 200 people attended. The highlight of the evening was being entertained by the King himself, Elvis. The girls went wild (and so did some of the guys), everyone got into the mood. After slogging it out over the last three days, sharing ideas, challenging our practices and confirming that we are on the right track, we were now ready to find out who was the Best in the World.
At about 11.00 p.m. Vegas time the awards were announced for each category. Our table consisted of the Aussie contingent from NAB and of course my partner and myself. We were personal guests of the President and his fantastic staff who made it all happen, and not to forget Raj’s lovely wife Sharon (who is the brain behind the organisation!).
Awards were announced for each of the categories. When it came to the award for the ‘Best Outbound Campaign’ it was announced that Marketcom had won Gold. The announcement came with screams and claps from the audience. I accepted the award humbly for the great people at Marketcom.
Gold, Gold, Gold to Australia, We had done it! The night continued in this way, jubilation for some and disappointment for others. The truth is, everyone was a winner, especially the industry.
It was time for the announcement of the ‘Best Leader’ award and the ‘Best Contact Center’ Award. I was sitting next to Steve Collier when he was named the winner for the ‘Best Leader’ award and the whole table erupted with applause. Two golds for Australia! Unfortunately they did not win the next award and you could feel the disappointment. However, it was evident they knew they had put themselves against the best and just been beaten on the day. Gerard, also from NAB, turned to me and said “Next year we will make that last step.”
Aussie Aussie Aussie OI! OI! OI!
The awards night ended with a great round of applause to all the participants for being great sports and to the organisers for putting on such a wonderful event.
The awards were over for another year. We all partied until the early hours of the morning. As new friends, we said our farewells knowing we had been part of something special. We ended with ‘see you next year’ for an even bigger and better awards night, where we know we will be competing against the best in the industry.
Until I see you next, let me ask you this:
Would YOU be brave enough to see where your organisation stands compared to the rest of the world?
For more information on the Contact Center World Awards in 2008, please follow this link: https://www.contactcenterworld.com/worldawards/
For information on how to enter the 2008 Contact Center World Awards, please follow this link: https://www.contactcenterworld.com/worldawards/awards-application.asp
About Tim Cheesewright:
Tim Cheesewright is a Managing Director for Marketcom in Australia. He is also a former President of the Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA).
Marketcom was established in 2002, over the last 10 years has had 1000 of companies in Australia better communicate to their customers and win new customers through its lead generation programs. Winner of the 2007 Asia pacific and World Award for Outbound Campaign.
Published: Monday, December 31, 2007
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