Alex's Top Tips!!
Our Head Judge, Alex Coxon, has been reporting on contact centres and customer service for 14 years. She first became involved in the industry following her appointment as deputy editor on Call Centre Focus in 2000. She became editor in 2001 and stayed with the magazine until 2005, at which point she embarked on a freelance writing and editing career.
As well as undertaking a two-year stint as editor on Call Centre Helper during this time, Alex has continued to write for organisations such as the Professional Planning Forum. She has been a regular judge for the North East Contact Centre Awards since their launched in 2003.
Who better to advise you about what it is our judges are looking for, read her top tips on submitting the perfect application;
“Nothing quite compares to the feeling of being called to the stage by the host of the North East Contact Centre Awards; that heart-thumping moment when you realise that you, your team or your contact centre has only gone and won!
That giddy moment of elation, the ensuing celebrations, the great internal and external PR generated off the back of your success – they all attest to the value of entering. This is recognition, of the highest order, for all your hard work over the past year or more – for everything you’ve done to go above and beyond as an individual, team or business.
But not everyone gets the recognition they deserve. Time and again, we – as judges – read an award submission and lament: “If only they had told us how they did this; if only they’d substantiated their claims; if only they’d actually answered the question.”
Delivering a great initiative, transforming the customer experience, making a considerable step-change in sales – that’s the challenge. Writing it up as an award entry should be the easy bit. Yet it doesn’t always work out that way.
So, what can you do to make your submission shine and ensure it represents the story you’re trying to tell? Here are our six top tips for success – for the North East Contact Centre Awards and beyond…
1) GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO WRITE
You can’t expect to do your best work, in business, if you only dedicate 48 hours to it – and the same goes for award submission writing. Allocate time to source the information you need to produce a stellar entry, and work it in over several days or weeks, rather than trying to cram everything in to a day or two. You’ll be surprised by the mistakes (and omissions!) you’ll notice when you come back to your entry every few days with a fresh pair of eyes.
2) ANSWER THE QUESTIONS
It may sound obvious, but many people tasked with writing an award submission will try to crowbar in what they want to tell the judges rather than answering the questions they’ve been given. To prevent this happening, start by writing a ‘skeleton’ version of the entry that marries short, bullet-pointed answers with the category criteria and questions. If you can’t answer all the questions for a particular category, consider a different one instead.
3) JACK THE JARGON
You might have intimate knowledge of your company’s business speak, but don’t assume the judges will too. Steer clear of any terminology that isn’t ubiquitous in the contact centre sector, and if you need to use abbreviations and other vocabulary that are relevant to your organisation, be sure to spell them out.
4) STAND OUT WITH QUANTIFIABLE EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS
If there’s one thing that’s going to resonate with the judges, it’s measurable evidence to support what you’ve claimed in your entry. If you’re a customer experience or sales superstar, prove it with data to show how you compare with your peers across the business, and back it up with testimonials from customers and managers alike. The same rule applies on a business-wide level. Where possible, provide data to show how you benchmark in specific metrics against your sector or the contact centre industry at large.
5) GET CREATIVE!
Even the most seasoned judges can suffer from ‘awards overload’, reading page after page of straight text. Differentiate your entry with graphs, diagrams, illustrations and photos. They’ll not only help break up a text-heavy submission, but can provide immediate, visual representations of the quantifiable evidence you want to include in your entry.
6) GET SOMEONE INDEPENDENT TO REVIEW YOUR ENTRY
It could be a colleague or your boss; it could even be your partner. Whoever you choose, getting an impartial opinion on your first draft is a really good way of identifying any potential problems, omissions, waffle, spelling mistakes or jargon. Moreover, if you get them to review the content a week or two before the deadline, you’ll have time to make the relevant changes and ensure your entry is really top-notch.