by Rayland Chan
Executive Committee Member
Professional Development and Training
Upon the completion of the assessment process of the HKCCA Awards 2009, we have been approached from different participants. Some asked for the results of their entries, others asked for advice on their performance during the assessment so that they could improve in the next awards. While the finalists of respective categories will be notified shortly, I would like to share with you the following highlights of this year’s entry submissions and the observations collected from the panel judges.
This year, we have more banking and financial institution entries. The HKCCA Awards values participation and the learning experienced from the preparation process as much as the final result. Entries were “screened in” rather than “screened out”. There were no quotas for the finalists. Written submissions meeting the prescribed requirements would be short-listed for the second round of assessment.
As the written submission carried 30% of the overall score, most participants made good effort to prepare for it. You could tell from their submissions that whether the participants were serious about the Awards, passionate about providing quality service and care about their customers and staff. A good number of those submissions consist of over 70 pages covering a lot of information. Long submissions did not necessarily score high marks. It depends on whether they had answered all the questions included on the template; the information provided was relevant to the specific questions; and there were illustrations or evidence provided to support the statements or claims. For example, simply say “We provide excellent career development opportunities for our agents,” will get no marks unless it gives details of how it is implemented and the effectiveness of the initiative.
There were entries that the participants simply used the same submissions of 2008 as their entries for the 2009 Awards. It is possible that some processes and information are still valid after 12 months - but not all, particularly on KPI and the actual achievement, staff churn, mechanism for continuous improvement. It raises questions that if the things mentioned in those submissions hold truth at all.
Many submissions used acronyms e.g. STAR, CARE, PERFECT, FAST etc to spell out an initiative or an approach to address certain issues. The acronym itself does not get marks unless the context relates to the issue presented and is supported with action items or illustrations.
Client or customer testimonials are solid evidence to justify the contact centre or the individual’s good work. One contact centre was able to provide 10 of its clients’ testimonials supporting its entry. And one other invited its clients to be interviewed by the judges to give reference during on-site assessment.
Mystery Caller Assessment
Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA) conducted the Mystery Caller Assessment in August for the short-listed entries serving inbound callers. The short-listed contact centers were from Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macau. The assessed areas included opening interaction, consistency and accuracy of the information provided, courtesy and knowledge of the agents, agents’ ability to offer solutions / alternatives to callers and closing of interaction.
The data shows the Hong Kong based contact centers relatively ranked higher than those in Mainland China. The Mystery Callers commented that while the product knowledge of agents in Hong Kong and the Mainland and their ability to understand callers’ needs were equally good, the agents in the Mainland were reactive to callers’ requests and enquiries, seldom use callers’ name to address callers and made little effort to see if callers had other needs that they could help before closing.
Good contact centres do what they promised to do. On-site assessment is a way to verify the information presented in the written submission. It is also a good opportunity for the judges to feel the ambience of the centre, interact with participants on contact centre issues and share the industry best practices.
A number of the assessed contact centers had their high level person in charge of the contact centre present during the assessment. That showed their support and commitment to the contact centre in participating in the Awards.
Happy staff makes happy customers. Almost every submission claims to be a caring contact centre that keeps its staff happy and healthy. That was not always reflected during on-site assessment. Observations from the judges reported that a contact centre receptionist was caught sleeping while they entered into the contact centre. Another contact centre had an agent laid down sleeping on her position during the assessment. And in one other contact centre, there were pictures of damaged furniture and facilities displayed reminding the staff to protect the company’s properties.
Short-listed Individual Awards candidates were invited for the panel interview to present their performance, achievements and giving them the opportunity to excel why they should be the winner of the category.
There were cases that the candidates entered into the category that did not match with their core role and responsibility in the contact centre. e.g. a manager competing in the supervisor category. It is not necessarily an advantage for a higher rank professional competing in a lower level category. The judges will assess the core competence of the candidates against the set of criteria prescribed for that particular category.
Most of the candidates were well prepared for the interview. Their presentation style was different and interesting. The candidates from one particular contact centre used a recital style to present their entries. Some used a story telling approach. Others used aids such as pictures, poster to support their presentation. The judges had no preferred style as long as the candidates were clear to their role and responsibility and were able to demonstrate their competence in the position and other outstanding achievements.
The HKCCA Awards is about hard work, learning, recognition and celebration.
There was a lot of hard work put in to achieving different KPIs and various successes in respective participants’ contact centers. There was a lot of learning for them to prepare and undergo the assessment process. The Awards recognizes achievements and give credits where credits are due. And the level of Awards given will be according to the level of attainment of respective submissions towards the prescribed standards. HKCCA is grateful for all the participants that have come forward, showcase their good work and benchmark themselves with the industry best. They are winners already.
As the Awards enters its 10 Anniversary along with the Association’s services to its members, we encourage all our members and past winners to come to the Gala Dinner on 13 Oct 2009 to recognize the achievement of the 2009 Awards winners, support the industry practitioners and celebrate “A decade of Excellence” of the contact centre industry and the Hong Kong Call Centre Association.