The nominees for the landmark 20th Welsh Contact Centre Awards have been announced by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, ahead of March’s event in the iconic Wales Millennium Centre.
The awards, headline sponsored by Centric Recruitment, celebrate both individuals and companies for their contribution to the industry over the last twelve months. Against a backdrop of predictions that robots could replace humans at the customer service coalface, the sector has grown to contribute £650m annually to the Welsh economy.
Sandra Busby, managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, said:
“Automation isn’t a new thing in contact centres. Back in 1999 when we started these awards, customers could undertake simple tasks like checking their bank balance without ever speaking to a real person. But over the past two decades, the Welsh contact centre workforce has grown from 10,000 to 32,000 employees.
“While we’ll continue to see basic interactions go to the bots, employees like the ones nominated will see their skills called upon for more complex customer service situations. It’d take robots a century to replicate the empathy of a Welsh customer service agent, but we will see them play a supporting role to humans, providing data to agents which can help customer engagements run even more smoothly. This is an industry which continues to innovate and adapt and I can’t wait to celebrate its achievements in March.”
Over 700 guests will include finalists in 16 categories from organisations including Virgin Atlantic, HSBC, BT, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, V12 Finance, Admiral, EE and Molson Coors.
Katherine Rankin, 35, from Cardiff, is head of the Engagement Support Centre at Deloitte and on a shortlist of four for the Leader/Senior Manager category. Her colleagues say she brings ‘gravitas but approachability to the role’ and after just 15 months in this role, she’s seen the support centre double in size.
“It will always be a people industry but automation and innovation are increasingly important. I firmly believe that this means more (and more interesting) roles going forward, not fewer. I was delighted to be nominated by the team and to win would be a fantastic end to the most challenging but most rewarding year of my career so far.”
Nominated alongside Katherine is Tracy Riley, 49, from Cardiff, customer services senior manager at Principality Building Society. A ‘committed, energetic and compassionate leader that provides excellent customer service’, according to colleagues, said:
“I feel honoured and proud to be nominated for what that I love doing. I’ve seen significant changes in the industry over the past 20 years or so: the rise of mobile banking, social networking, the millennial generation and the talent gap, but this sector continues to think innovatively and grow.”
Port Talbot’s Rachel Harper, 37, joined Lloyds Banking Group as a telephony agent following her A-levels and has seen her career grow to become senior team manager of Core Banking and Moments of Truth in Newport. She said:
“My team supports customers at first touch with vulnerabilities such as family bereavement, cancer and British Sign Language. I’ve worked hard over the past 18 years to develop my own confidence and to actively represent women in leadership roles. To win such an award would be an honour and would corroborate that my plan and leadership style is a successful one.”
Originally from Albania, 30 year-old Marco Jetmir Ndrecaj is operations manager at outsourcer Conduit Global in Cardiff, managing a multi-channel, multi-contract 600 full time equivalent staff centre. He said:
“The advent of automation in the contact centre industry has changed both the role of the agent and the type of interactions they handle. We have seen the knowledge worker really come to the fore with simple, more transactional work being handled via self-serve. Our agents now have to handle many more complex enquiries than before which requires a higher degree of skill.
“Recognition is a confirmation for employees that their work is valued and I feel proud and happy to have been shortlisted as a finalist and can’t really imagine the feeling I would get if I was to win.”
The finalists will be honoured and the winners announced at the Welsh Contact Centre Awards ceremony at the Wales Millennium Centre on Friday 9th March 2018. The glitzy ceremony has previously been hosted by television celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr, David Walliams and Rob Brydon, but 2018’s star turn is a closely guarded secret.
Dave Matthews, Operations Director at Centric Recruitment said:
“The Contact Centre sector in Wales is one of substantial growth and Centric is proud to be headline sponsor of the awards at this year’s 20th anniversary ceremony. The Welsh Contact Centre Forum is hugely respected in our industry and their values align with those of Centric in terms of quality and service delivery.
“Sponsoring the Welsh Contact Centre Awards is a great opportunity for us to showcase our existing diversity within the workplace with added focus now being made within the Contact Centre business community.”
Other sponsors currently include Deloitte, HSBC, Aegis, Legal & General, Red Recruitment, V12 Finance, CGI, Yolk Recruitment, Premier CX, Cardiff & Vale College and Conduit.