SEATTLE -- Last night was very exciting for eleven contact center workers that received excellence awards at the International Customer Management Institute Global Call Center Awards ceremony, which took place at the tenth Annual Call Center Exhibition conference.
Leadership and learning are indispensable -- you cannot live in a vacuum and expect to deliver stellar service.
During the ceremony, which was presided over by Dayna Steele, former Houston disc jockey-turned-business-guru, the contact center industry recognized a handful of its most successful employees. Throughout the evening, Steele and other speakers at the event repeatedly praised the high levels of flexibility that excellent contact center employees have demonstrated in the face of a continuously changing set of rules. Not long ago, contact centers were simply call centers, taking phone calls -- now, many integrate email, social, Voice over Internet Protocol, unified communications and possibly even cloud computing. Five years ago, most call center supervisors dealt with teams that were entirely in-house. Increasingly, however, they work with a growing number of remote employees in diverse locations throughout the country, if not the world. "Your competitors are only a Web-click away," cautioned Steele during her speech. Yet, the mood was elevated and light in the face of the daily challenges contact center employees face. "You are not in the call center business -- you are in the relationship business," professed Steele, making it clear that the contact center industry knows how to get work done while having fun and building relationships with customers.
After dinner and drinks, Steele and the other speakers began presenting the winners of this years' awards. Steele said it was an honor to be named a finalist, and then went on to name the contestants and winners in each category. Below is a listing of the finalists in each category, with the winners in bold.
Best call center agent
Chris Rectenwald, UPMC Health Plan
Jason Miller, MassMutual
Joyce Ayala, MassMutual
Lauren Bodell, UPMC Health Plan
Melissa Spencer, TransCore Freight Services
Michelle Achey, Guardian Life Insurance
Noe Vazquez, North American Bancard
Samantha Grant, Sitel
Best call center supervisor
Brian M. Fornuto, New York Life Insurance
Kathie Dorschner, Guardian Life Insurance
Tracy Madden, Intercall
Zoltan Simon, Computer Generated Solutions
Best call center manager
Chad A. Luikart, Sitel
Dawn Fisher, MassMutual
Deb Brown, Guardian Life Insurance
Tom Walsh, Computer Generated Solutions
Best customer service business leader
Geoff Levy, Clearwire
George Larribas, Wells Fargo Bank
Herb Pyles, Intercall
Josh Chapman, Cars.com
Tiffany Killcreas, Intercall
Best quality assurance (QA) or customer experience program
UPMC Health Plan
Note: While this category was originally supposed to have only one winner, OptumRx was considered the winner for best QA, UPMC Health Plan for customer experience program.
Best use of technology
Clearwire, North American Communications Resource
Hyatt Hotels, Interactive Corporation
TELUS, OpenSpan Inc.
The Home Depot, NICE Systems
UPMC Health Plan, Genesys
Best strategic value to the organization
New York Life Insurance
Best small-to-medium call center
Housing & Development Board, Singapore
Philly 311, Non-emergency contact center
Best large call center
China Merchant Bank
Royal Caribbean International
Wells Fargo Bank
ICMI lifetime achievement award
Gerry Barber, Deloitte Services
When Barber was asked to comment on his achievement, he said he'd like to thank "all the people who had faith in him to lead customer experience." He talked a bit about the mentors he had along the way, but said he learned the most from sharing his experiences through groups like ACCE.
"Leadership and learning are indispensable -- you cannot live in a vacuum and expect to deliver stellar service," he said. "You have to share your experiences; learn from others -- this is key."