Article : Shane Abeyratne of Telstra Connect on His Involvment with Recent Awards
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What made you enter the 2013 awards in the first place?
We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for Telstra to learn from the best on the world stage. We were also keen to share some of our experiences alongside other leading Contact Centres in Asia Pacific, in the hope of winning the honour of Best Large Contact Centre.
What were you hoping to achieve in the process? Was it recognition? Benchmarking? Something else or a combination of things?
We wanted to achieve a combination of two things - recognition for our people, and the ability to compare examples of best practice in other Contact Centres as a point of reference to the practices that we have in place.
When you were invited to be a finalist, what was your reaction and how did you share this with your co-workers?
It was exciting because it enabled our people to reflect on the milestones we achieved. In the lead up to the awards, we promoted the event on our plasma screens on the floor. We also gave our people the opportunity to view our entry video in their team meetings, which created a sense of pride when they saw themselves alongside our achievements on the screen. On the night of the awards, we kept our people informed through social media by updating our Telstra Connect@717 Facebook page.
You were asked to prepare a presentation, how did you decide what to include and what to share?
Our leadership team looked over what makes our Contact Centre special and unique, such as our design, Frontline support team, and the involvement of our people in our operation and decision making processes. We also structured our application – everything from the video to the personal presentation – around our people’s efforts. We used footage of them doing amazing things for their colleagues and our customers, and also involved them in the production of the video and presentations.
Can you share with our readers a couple of ideas you presented at the conference and how you apply those in your center?
One of the key ideas we shared at the conference was, ‘Be comfortable with the uncomfortable’. We do this by constantly checking whether we have earned our people’s trust on a daily basis, and if we haven’t, what do we need to do to regain that trust.
Another idea is that ‘Leaders need to work on and create the right environment for their people to excel in’. We practice this by proactively asking for feedback, and acting on this information immediately and effectively.
How did you feel about sharing with your peers – including those competing against you?
To us, sharing with our peers is what we are passionate about and what we love doing. It gave as the ability to reflect on our best practices, and hear from others about what made their contact centres unique and special. We thought about what could be important to our peers, and how we could add value to the conference for them, and structured our content around that.
?How did you feel before and after presenting?
We were nervous in the lead up to presenting our awards. Each member of our team presented in one of the three categories that we entered, so it was great to bounce encouragement off each other. Our presentations had been thoroughly prepared in Australia, so it was a good feeling that most of the hard work was over with when we arrived at the conference, all that was left was to share our ideas with our peers.
How would you describe the gala dinner?
The gala dinner was fantastic! All the nervous energy within the group was replaced with excitement as we waited for the awards to be announced. Overall, it was a great opportunity to celebrate with the contact centre industry in Asia Pacific.
As a GOLD winner, how did you feel being called on stage to receive your award?
The experience was surreal. Once the bronze and silver winner in each category had been announced, it left just one award to win. Having ‘Telstra’ announced as the gold winner in three categories was such a proud moment – we would not have won these awards if it was not for the incredible people we have in our team.
How did you celebrate your win at your company?
The celebrations started as soon as we were named gold medal winners. We shared our thoughts and photos via our Telstra Connect@717 Facebook page. Back in Australia, we purchased metallic gold letters that we tied to the staircases in our building, spelling the word ‘Thank you’ that our people were sure to walk past every day. We designed postcards for each of our team members that personally congratulated them on the win. On the back of these postcards, their one- up manager wrote a individual note to thank them for their contribution and constant hard work. Our Director of Consumer Contact Centres, Andrew Coull presented us with a three-tiered cupcake tree, which was a yummy treat for our people! Lastly, we gave each of our people a Telstra lanyard inscribed with ‘Connect – Best Large Contact Centre Asia Pacific 2013’ as a gift. It’s something that they can wear their building passes on every day and be reminded of their remarkable achievement.
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How has entering and winning this award changed your company and motivation?
It’s given us the motivation to continue to be innovative for our people. It has injected pride into our community of champions, and made us strive harder to better ourselves and the way we work on a daily basis.
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?
We’re extremely excited! We are currently reviewing our presentations and refining the areas to showcase what we believe, and what our people believe, are best practice. We are also discussing how we keep our people involved along the journey in the lead up to the Las Vegas Awards. It is important for us to feel like each and every person is involved, because without them, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete with the best in the world.
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
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