Can you tell us a bit about your career so far and how you arrived in your current role?
Well, how long have you got? I started working for IBM back in 1977 and I’ve been involved with Contact Centres since around 1980.
Over the years I’ve spent considerable time at IBM, Aspect, Rockwell, Noble and Vocalcom to name just a few. I’ve had my own company, which started back in 2005, and I’ve been involved with most of the largest, well known Contact Centres not only in the UK but around the world.
I’ve also been lucky enough to travel extensively over the years, working in the USA, Canada, Australia, throughout Europe and I‘ve spent considerable time in Israel too.
With experience on my side, Sales Management and Consultancy was the logical role for me after years of being the “point man” on sales. Here was a chance to help others, as well as myself.
Tell us about yourself and what you do
I’ve been in Sales, and Technical Sales support, for most of my career. What’s always fascinated (and disappointed) me, is the amount of Sales people who sell a product or service that they don’t totally believe in!
What I’ve always tried to do is understand my client’s requirements and then fit what they need or want, to the solution I have. It there’s not a complete fit, I’d rather walk away, than sell someone something that’s not fit for purpose.
With 30+ years under my belt I guess it’s fair to say that I now “sell me”, my experience and, I hope, my expertise. If a client can “buy me” then they’ll buy the solution I’m selling and know that it’s going to do “exactly what it says on the can”.
What has been your greatest success?
The definition of success is different from Company to Company. Some of my “greatest successes” have been some of the smaller clients. Knowing that we’ve made a positive impact on a smaller company, who count every penny, and make it work for them, is sometimes more pleasing than the larger sales and implementations I’ve been involved with over the years.
I guess my greatest success would have to be that I’ve made a lot of friends, very few enemies, and had a lot of fun over a long and enjoyable career.
What does the future hold for you?
A few more years yet with my nose to the grindstone!
I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy meeting new people. As one of the older heads now, I think there’s a future passing on some of the experience I’ve gained. That experience may be of use to young guns entering the industry and to companies too, especially those who, after years of suffering in the recession, are now looking to refresh their technology and Contact Centres.
As Madness say “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”
How has the contact centre industry changed since you’ve been involved in it?
The biggest change over the years would be the scale of things. When I started in Call Centres there were a couple of ACD manufacturers and even fewer Dialer supplies. That was it.
Nowadays there are many, many more suppliers, resellers and manufacturers for customers to choose from. There also many more customers out there as the Contact Centre industry has come of age and grown up.
What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by the industry today?
If you had asked me this 10 or 15 years ago I would have answered “Offshore Outsourcing” and the fear of losing jobs in the UK. However, that’s not the case now as Offshore, Nearshore and “Local” contact centres can all work in harmony and each type of Contact Centre has its merits. Outsourcers are good!
So the greatest challenge we face now is ensuring that the rogue Contact Centres, who flaunt the rules, and give us a bad name or reputation, are stopped. If we’re not careful the rules and regulations that are there to help us, and stop the rogue players, will end up stifling all of us.
That’s why organisations such as UK-CCF and Ofcom are so important to us and ensuring that the industry stays professional and reliable.
What does the future hold for the industry?
Back at the turn of the century the head of the Patents Office resigned saying “everything that was going to be invented, had been invented.” How wrong could he have been?
Things continue to evolve in the Contact Centre industry and the future’s bright.
In the short term it will be Mobile, Automation, Web Chat, and Social Media. Longer term there could be all sorts of changes but the world always needs to communicate, and Contact Centres will always be at the heart of matters.
Which companies do you admire and why?
Any company that puts their clients first, makes a profit, and continues to trade.
Some of the well-known technology companies have folded over the years, but the companies that survive and flourish; continue to evolve, and continue to ask for advice when they know they don’t know!
I admire companies, and individuals, who ask for help when they need it.
If there were one piece of advice you could give to contact centre professionals reading this, what would it be?
It sounds a little corny, but many years ago, my late father said to me “Remember that you’re as good as anyone, and better than most.”
I take that to be, “remain confident, not cocky. Strive to be the best, but don’t get complacent. Be honest, truthful, and loyal, and above all, remain professional, have fun, and be yourself.”
If you apply that mentality to your Business and Personal life, you won’t go far wrong.
What do you do for fun?
I’m lucky to have a great family, and now have 3 Grandchildren, who all bring me immense pleasure. Other than them, Golf (13 handicap) and Chelsea FC (also handicapped at the time of writing) take up all my time!