Magazine article Marketing

Agency of the Year 2007: Contact Centre Agency of the Year - the Listening Company

Magazine article Marketing

Agency of the Year 2007: Contact Centre Agency of the Year - the Listening Company

Article excerpt

As businesses focus on good service, one contact centre specialist is ahead of the pack, writes Robert McLuhan.

For years, contact centre specialists have insisted that quality matters more than cost. With so much media comment on poor customer service this year, more clients are taking heed, and the best agencies are seeing the benefits.

None more so than the favourite of the Marketing's judges, The Listening Company, whose turnover soared 40% to pounds 36m in 2007. Established in 1998, the agency has long been one to watch, and its recent figures would propel it into the top 10 of Marketing's annual league table. The good news is likely to continue, with turnover projected to rise as high as pounds 45m in the next financial year.

The agency won 20 pieces of new business this year from high-profile brands including Toyota, AOL, O2 and Radisson Edwardian Hotels, with more in the pipeline.

It is opening a second site in Richmond, Surrey to accommodate 240 extra staff needed for its work with Sky. The agency now employs more than 1700 people across four sites in Richmond, Portsmouth and Tonbridge, up from 1300 a year ago.

The Listening Company has recognised a major shift of thinking, as businesses take note of consumers' gripes about poor telephone service Companies are much more protective of their brands than in the past, and are nervous about outsourcing on price only. 'Clients want to know if their prospective partner will enhance the brand,' says chief executive Neville Upton.

The agency's clients believe it can. It has been a crucial element of the success of Advanced Payment Solutions (APS), for instance, which launched the UK's first prepaid chip-and-pin card for consumers with credit difficulties two years ago. This sensitive market requires flexibility and prudent cost management. Innovative use of technology helps provide both, with customers serviced though phone calls, including interactive voice response, SMS messaging, email and the web.

As well as contributing to APS' revenue growth, the agency has saved it pounds 200,000 a year by using automation to shorten calls. 'The results show there is a mutual passion to provide the highest level of service through a superior customer experience,' says APS chief executive Rich Wagner. …

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