The Top Brass: The 10 Leading Call Centre Managers - No Hang-Ups as Smooth Operators Banish the Workhouse Ethic
Hilpern, Kate, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Ian Praed, 37, is a call centre manager for the RAC (Royal Automobile Club), with responsibilities for new custo-mer sales, existing member- ship sales and the travel and outbound (marketing and promotions) departments. He was voted Manager of the Year 2003 in the annual awards of the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA).
Mr Praed says the industry has transformed itself from a working environment characterised by work-to-rule targets, to one that encourages ideas and innovation.
"`Having worked in both the public and private sectors, I appreciate that it is your people who can give you real competitive advantage," he continues. "You can't empower anyone - all you can do is create the climate in which [your workforce] can empower themselves.
"This has been achieved through establishing RAC's consumer call centre as an environment where colleagues, at all levels, are valued for the contribution they make.
"We're moving away from the old-style `command and control' call centres, where all processes, and even behaviour, are strictly regimented.
"As part of this cultural change we're encouraging a far greater degree of personal responsibility in the workplace, for example by removing call scripting in favour of what we term `agent [call operator]-led flows'.
"I believe we've gone a long way towards achieving this, and business results would seem to confirm that it has been worthwhile."
Nicola Collister, 31, is head of inbound customer relations management (handling complaints and requests for information) at N Brown, the independent UK home- shopping company. She is responsible for sales and service delivery for 40 million telephone, postal and internet transactions each year.
"The secret of success is coping with change. Your day never ends up how you plan it to be."
Kirk Croal, 31, is head of customer services at investment bank Morgan Stanley. In 2001 he became the first-ever British winner of the CMP Europe award for European Call Centre Professional of the Year. His centre was also the UK's first to achieve the new Call Centre Association standard.
"It's not technology that makes a call centre successful, it's the people."
Stuart Hully, 40, is head of sales for Barclaycard UK. He is a member of the steering committee for Sussex Enterprise (the local chamber of commerce) and will be speaking at the New Zealand Call Centre conference this month. He won the CCMA Manager of the Year award in 2002.
"Gear everything you do around your people and put them at the very centre of all your strategies."
Vicky Jenkins, 32, oversees a multi-million-pound budget at Ventura, the call centre management company, and is responsible for 12 clients and over 2,000 employees. She has run customer service and loyalty programmes for, among others, Telewest and Thames Water. She won the CCMA Manager of the Year award in 2001.
"I put my success down to a mix of determination, common sense and confidence. …