The shortlist has been announced for the Cnect Wales Contact Centre Awards, which will be celebrated for the 25th time on 29th September.
Jomo People are headline sponsors of the awards at Cardiff City Stadium, which recognise the 32,000 employees who work within the 350 Wales-based centres that contribute £650m annually to the Welsh economy.
Centres and individuals are nominated for their employees and innovative strategies to support both customers and colleagues.
Sandra Busby, Managing Director of Cnect Wales, said: “We are proud to be marking the 25th awards, which highlight the remarkable role the industry plays in the success of our cross-sector clients.
“Whether it is a voice at the end of a telephone or a helpful and thoughtful response to an online question in a live chat, the reassurance offered goes a long way to ease anxieties, provide comfort or crucial support and information.
“All nominated teams and individuals are a great asset to their organisations and they also demonstrate an invaluable commitment to their own internal teams in terms of engagement, mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion. These are all factors which make the sector such a rewarding one in terms of employment.
“Helplines are providing crucial support during the current cost of living crisis, when so many people are at rock bottom financially and are still unclear exactly how their personal budgets will be impacted.
“Teams within utility companies; banks and financial services or community or council structures and many more, are all on-hand to advise and offer guidance.”
Often, people using contact centre services are in a desperate situation. It’s their last hope when all other forms of support fail.
There are eight new categories among this year’s 21 major categories and one of these new awards will be given to the Best Advice Line / Helpline, nominees for which are Deloitte, Arvato CRM Solutions, Citizens Advice Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent, Connect Assist and Wales Nation of Sanctuary Ukraine Contact Centre (WNSU), run by Welsh Government and Cardiff Council.
At the height of the scheme’s Application Process between June 6 – July 25, 2022 WNSU received 3,463 calls and made 238,901 calls.
Ruth Meadows, Interim Director Ukraine Response, Welsh Government, said: “Wales has acted as a nation of sanctuary to the people of Ukraine, supporting the arrival of over 7000 people.
“The helpline provided by the Contact Centre has played a pivotal role in communicating with people before they travel to assist with their travel plans, monitoring their journey once they arrive in the UK and providing a source of advice once they have arrived.
This task has often been challenging for staff as they helped people escape the ravages of war. Welsh Government is grateful and proud of the critical role played by the team.”
Isabelle Bignall, Lead Officer at Cardiff Council added: “These hard-working, committed officers were asked to join the team with very little notice, having worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic as Tracers and Advisors for the Cardiff and Vale Test, Trace and Protect team.
“These officers didn’t hesitate: they wanted to help, working endless hours understanding the scheme, having training, working with interpreters and hearing harrowing stories from people trying to flee their war-torn country, many leaving family behind to fight.
“Some call handlers heard bombs being dropped. They were trauma trained but can anything really prepare you? I am so proud to be associated with this phenomenal service and I hope that their efforts are recognised at these prestigious awards.”
Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent Citizens Advice Team
After receiving funding in November 2021, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent Citizens Advice team launched a 10-strong Help Through Hardship team to guide the local community through this latest financial cost of living crisis.
Services include supporting clients with food vouchers, short-term emergency payments and hardship funds.
The team also runs a free helpline to help with long-term income maximisation and has partnered with mental health charity Mind Cymru, to refer clients in need directly to them.
In the year from March 2022, the team secured £3,158,590 in grants and payments – an average of £5,784 per client.
CACBG team leader Jenna Ridout said: “All our advisers are passionate about exploring all possible options for income maximisation for clients and understanding the magnitude of clients’ financial situations while investing time and resources into them.”
Arvato’s Swansea-Based Advice Line Retains Customer Service Excellence Accreditation
Arvato’s Swansea-based advice line has retained its Customer Service Excellence accreditation for a sixth consecutive year, having handled approximately 100,000 transactions of etickets, emails and telephone calls in the last year, with the team achieving a wait time of under five seconds.
Rhian Williams, Customer Services Account Manager at Arvato, said: “Every day brings a new challenge. I’m passionate that we provide excellent customer service and am proud that we achieve our goals as a team.
“I love being able to develop my skill set and enjoy the variation of the role and being able to work with different people across the business.
“It’s fantastic to be recognised for our hard work and dedication. We are thrilled to be finalists and proud of our excellent customer service.”
Deloitte’s internal helpline for partners and employees services a high-profile customer base with incredibly high customer expectations, requirements and wants.
The team provides a one-stop-shop of end-to-end support via webchat, email, phone and ServiceNow technology.
Within the team there are SMEs who take ownership of certain topics or services, helping to train any new starters who join the team, acting as an escalation point, and liaising with external third-party service providers.
Rasalind Cobb, Senior Assistant at Deloitte, said: “I love working within this sector because it’s so rewarding to be able to give advice and help people solve problems.
“I enjoy the wide variety of topics that my team support with – it makes every day interesting. I have a really great team. We come from diverse backgrounds, so bring different experiences and perspectives to the service.
“We are excited to be shortlisted. It is a huge achievement and a nice recognition for the work we do every day.”
The British Red Cross Approached Connect Assist
In June 2022, the British Red Cross approached Connect Assist to provide a support line for provision of cash assistance and SIM cards for Ukrainian refugees who had entered the UK within the previous 14 days.
Throughout the 12-week campaign, the challenge was considerable and British Red Cross’ timeline exceptionally tight, with an already unprecedentedly high volume of calls for its core service.
Connect Assist activated the helpline within seven days from contract signature to launch – a huge feat given the scope of the campaign. A team of 30 serviced 10am to 6pm service, seven days a week.
Within a week, the newly-formed team had handled over 2,000 calls, and were in daily correspondence with the client to ensure that expectations were met in terms of Service Level Agreement, quality of data capture with target abandonment rate of under 10%.
Martyn Cooper, Head of National Support Line, British Red Cross, said: “Connect Assist’s service manager was a delight to work with, bringing a calmness and positivity to the role, along with a true sense of collaboration and professionalism. It’s also clear to see that this attitude runs through his team.” During the extended nine-month period of the contract, Connect Assist answered 42,533 calls.
The headline sponsor of the Welsh Contact Centre Awards is Jomo People, who specialise in recruiting for the sector.
Sarah Hopkins, Co-Founder and Talent Partner at Jomo People, said: “The efforts of the teams shortlisted in this Helpline / Advice Line category is truly inspiring.
“My co-founder Katie Armitage and I have spent our entire careers working within the contact centre sector and therefore appreciate first-hand how challenging this past year has been, as well as how much awards like these matter for the morale of the teams who enter.
“This is a vibrant and rewarding sector which offers a wealth of different career opportunities.
“All five organisations and teams thoroughly deserve to be recognised as finalists and we’re thrilled to be offering our support again this year.”
Alongside headline sponsors Jomo People, Arvato, Calabrio, Capital on Tap, CGI, Deloitte, SSCL, Yolk Recruitment and Gower College are also sponsoring.