Occasionally, covering this space, one comes across something which brings about an unsolicited flood of mean-spirited surrealistic thoughts. Such is the case with the upcoming CCF European Call Centre Awards 2008. Imagine an event organized by, and for, the industry which invariably makes the lives of ordinary people a journey to the innermost circle of hell. What could we envisage if such quaint concepts as karma actually held true in the real world?
Presenter: "It's my pleasure to award Company X 2008 call centre operator of the year! But before I can complete the award, I just need to confirm your full name, the first line of your address and your memorable security word... Thank you, let me now pass you to my colleagues in Awards Distribution, please hold - this will cost you 35p per minute..."
Awards Distribution department: "Thank you for holding, may I please have your your full name, the first line of your address and your memorable security word? I'm sorry, the system's gone down, can I please ask you to come back to the podium later?"
Okay, admittedly that's a cheap shot at a difficult industry, but nevertheless one which, time and again, proves to be a costly and frustrating Achilles heel for telcos (or substitute the consumer-facing industry of your choosing), and a hideous and alienating experience for consumers. It may be deeply unsexy to the outsider, but the potential for transformation is huge, and deeply sexy in financial terms.
It turns out that my good friends at VoiceSage in Ireland have ended up as finalists in the category "Best Product at Call Centre Expo," which I'm very sure they deserve. However, I think it's shortsighted to pigeon-hole this company in the call centre space, as their thinking goes way outside the conventional box (please see Paul Sweeney's very interesting blog for more insight into what goes on under the hood), and is based much more around the concept of addressing customer psychology and transforming business processes.
Well done guys, and best of luck next Tuesday!