Grabbing two awards at this years London & South East Contact Centre Awards, we caught up with the team at The Chat Shop to ask them about their win, the impact it is having on their teams and the new perception of their contact centre….
Why did you enter the awards?
These UKCCF LSECC awards were our first that we entered as a company. We’ve been doing what we’re doing for coming up on 5 years and really felt that it was the time to start chatting about our team, who we believe in and who make our business what it is. We knew that the LSECC awards offered a perfect opportunity for us to get out of the office (or, in our case, our home office), show what we’re doing to experienced judges, present before our peer group in the space, go up against people who are much bigger than us and see where we come out, and it was extraordinarily rewarding to see that we ultimately came out on top in that respect with two wins. We entered two and won two so great feeling for the team, they work really hard day in and day out. I think it was a real accolade for them and all they do. We were up against some strong established brands. It’s great to see that compared to them the stuff we’re doing is innovative, progressive, original, and also successful. There are 3000 other call centres in the area for the LSECC awards and so to go through our applications, presentation, and to end up winning was a great feeling.
We’re new members of UKCCF; we’ve only been with them for a matter of months before the awards. I think the work that the organisation, Trevor, and Michael are doing with trying to create educational platforms for people within their network, trying to find the key topics for areas of change like social media, homeworking, and employee engagement makes our awards that much sweeter. UKCCF has done a great job of finding the hot buttons and putting together useful sessions where people can talk about their successes and pains to drive the industry forward as a collective group. I’m definitely excited about the future together and I think we can bring a lot to the table.
Matt, Account Coordinator:
‘To achieve not one, but two awards so early in the life of our company is a fine testament to the understanding The Chat Shop has of this industry, and in particular the management of work from home colleagues. We are all extremely proud of winning awards which recognise the hard work, passion and enthusiasm shared by our entire Chat Shop family!’
What did you think of the judging process?
The format of the judging stage was fantastic; the judges themselves were very engaged with our presentations for HomeAgent Operation of the Year and Digital Customer Services Team of the Year. They interrogated us a little bit in terms of where we’re going, what our vision is, and gave us the chance, in turn, to delve into some key elements of our service and the operation.
The panels were positive and receptive to our unique position in the industry; we’re not a traditional contact centre that has done digital, we’re a digital-first contact centre. I think the judges not only understood that but got excited by the idea that we’re coming into a very established industry with new ways of working and new area of focus – digital. They were receptive to innovation in the industry and having things being pushed forward. It was a real pleasure to interact with panels of judges who seemed excited by what we were saying.
Did you enjoy the Awards evening?
Our awards for HomeAgent Operation of the Year and Digital Customer Services Team of the Year were back to back; accepting twice was really fun. After the big wins, we got the chance to talk with the judges we had met along the way in presentations. Getting more feedback from them, and meeting everyone at UKCCF who came over to offer a quick congratulations and said how well we had done was incredibly rewarding.
It was a wicked evening and a little bit surreal. My co-founder, Joe Bush, and I went to these awards knowing that our company was only a few weeks away from its 5th birthday. These were our first awards entered and, the combination of that was an awesome experience for us. We remembered when we were two guys sat in an office doing chat until 1 am because there was no one else in the team.
When you’re young and starting off, you have big dreams but they’re quite abstract. To be in a situation where we’re in a room with industry peers, and almost all of them are more established than we, and to be participating, taken seriously, and clean sweep the awards we entered, made for a really special night. It definitely felt like a wider indication of the company we wanted to build 5 years ago and we’re incredibly grateful to UKCCF for the opportunity.
What does winning the award mean to the The Chat Shop team?
Winning these awards helps every member of our team to see that, though we may be not a high street brand and may only be 5 years behind us, the stuff that they’ve worked the late nights for, the commitments they’ve made, the going above and beyond is paying off. It’s allowing us all to be part of something that isn’t a run-of-the-mill, churn-and-burn operation, but is something that is working and stepping towards being an industry-leader over the next 5 years. That hopefully bolsters our team’s confidence in their abilities and helps them realise that their skillsets are valid.
Carrie, Chat Agent:
‘When I heard about the awards, I was ecstatic. Not only because The Chat Shop won the awards but because I got to be a part of it. It means so much to me that the close knit group of co-workers, the people I call my friends, were able to come together and work hard enough for Jonny and Joe to have the honor of being able to receive those awards.
I feel blessed beyond words to be able to be a part of a company that doesn’t make work feel like work, it makes work feel like family… and I couldn’t be prouder of each and every person who contributed to the awards being won.’
Lee, Chat Agent:
‘It’s awesome that we are being recognised for the great work we do. It all comes from a place of compassion and eagerness to help anyone and everyone who comes my way, treating them as I’d wish to be treated myself.
It’s a shame we are not up for a banter award too! I’m sure we’d win that one given how entertaining slack messenger is some days!’
What impact does the recognition have on employee engagement within the team/company and beyond?
As we operate a homeworking model, employee engagement is arguably more important than at a traditional call centre. Because we can’t rely on Friday beers or Wednesday pizzas for everyone to get together to share the mission, the values, and the goals, we have to be more proactive in our outreach, our communication, and and our validation for our team. As such, having not just management giving virtual high-fives, but a third party bestowing not one but two awards hopefully gives our chat experts more fire in their belly, impetus to push and do well, and recognise that the work they’re doing is not only acknowledged by us and the customers they serve, but at an industry level.
Pippa, Chat Agent:
‘I’ve only been part of the team for a couple of months, but already these awards come as no surprise. The level of talent and pride in our work within the teams has been obvious from the moment I started and motivates me to do the best possible job I can. I believe these awards will be the first of many.’
Do you think winning the award will change the perception of the Customer Contact team within the broader organisation?
Our team is already very dedicated to our mission. A lot of the people who are here wanted to break out of a monolithic organisation; they wanted to feel like the work they did mattered and they wanted to feel valued, all of which we do. Our team are already deployed and delivering results across the board, and they’re using their outstanding customer service to give marketers and companies those results. These awards validate that our approach is good, that our tools, techniques, methodologies are sound, and that the results that we’re getting are exceptional. For all members of our team, it gives some external validation that the things that we’ve all been working hard to achieve are good.
Heather, Team Leader:
‘Receiving these awards is fantastic, it is a perfect reflection of all the hard work and dedication from management and staff alike!’
What next for the The Chat Shop team?
There are a lot of interesting developments in our space at the moment with AI and chatbots being talked about a lot. They affect not only us but other people in our industry. There are going to be innovations for AI in our spaces and those are things we’re going to look to take advantage of.
What we continue to see is this no-man’s land being established by the fact that digital assets and digital properties are driven by marketing but the service experience is still lead by the customer services team. I think that drives some internal friction in organisations, some divergence of goals in terms of understanding how to execute and how to engage on these properties. I think there’s a growing realisation that the customer experience isn’t just UX, UI, and variety of channels you’re on, but it’s actually about how easy is it to get in touch with the company, how in-line the experience is with the brand promise and the marketing message.
Because we’re coming from a digital-first channel, we have an interesting opportunity to bridge that gap more and more by providing a service-led digital-first experience.
Chelsea, Team Leader:
‘I think it’s a really unique and spectacular achievement to not only be employed with The Chat Shop, but to have our hard work awarded by more than our supervisors and peers. It really shows that as a company, and as a team, we are setting new standards for the world of live chat. Not only this, but we are encouraging each other to continue to improve for the sake of our clients and chats. We never settle, we strive to become greater and make changes that set us above the others!’
As for awards, I think our chat expert Darrell, says it best:
‘It’s been amazing to see how far The Chat Shop has come since I started working here and I’m extremely proud to have been part of this journey!
Here’s to many more awards!’