The last few years have seen unprecedented change across the contact centre industry. We have witnessed the ongoing shift towards digital environments, the growing uptake of automation and, increasingly, Artificial Intelligence, and a stronger focus on the customer experience. These changes have laid down a challenge to all the key players working in the contact centre environment – from vendors to resellers and distributors – to work together to overcome the barriers and achieve the best possible results for themselves and their end customers
The key to success is a strong focus on teamwork – all partners understanding their roles but also the importance of pooling skills and resources for the greater good. Building strong, mutually supportive relationships that play to the strengths of every business within the partnership helps the combined entity win and retain customers.
With this in mind, Enghouse Interactive recently invited Ant Middleton, former member of the elite Special Boat Service, who many will recognise from his hit Channel 4 TV show, “SAS: Who Dares Wins”, to share his thoughts on how to survive and thrive in a hostile, rapidly changing environment. In his powerful speech, Ant focused on aspects of teamwork that can drive success, not only in army and special forces units but in the business world where collaboration is key.
Ant began to learn about the importance of teamwork in the Army. His first few years were marked by great individual success, picking up prestigious awards, including Best Recruit and Best Personal Trainer (PT) at the Royal Engineers and gaining his maroon beret in P-Company.
Despite this, Ant was conscious something was missing. He was focused on personal goals but was isolating himself from his fellow recruits. People were getting promoted over him and winning places on courses that he wanted to be on. Frustrated and uncertain of the future, he left the military.
After time on ‘civvy street’, Ant returned to the forces with a renewed sense of vigour. He had come to realise what was missing was an understanding of the importance of the team. Army life needs to be about working together to achieve common goals.
It’s a lesson partnerships addressing business opportunities can learn from, of course. There needs to be a mutual understanding of the end objectives, with all parties involved committed to working together to achieve the end goal. Any focus on individual business goals must be subsidiary to the focus of the partnership, and any examples of divergence must be addressed.
It’s also important when working in teams to acknowledge skill gaps and ask fellow team members or partners to help. Teamwork, both in the military and in business, is about honest communication with colleagues: playing to your strengths but being open and upfront about your weaknesses.
Ant knows how important this is and wasn’t afraid to ask for help from his team when made section commander during a tour of Afghanistan. Conscious that the promotion had come before he was ready, he was up-front with his team and told them he wouldn’t always get things right – and that he would need the rest of them to step up when needed. In return for his honesty, he received unwavering support.
Again, the parallels with the contact centre experience are striking. Vendors, resellers and distributors can work together as teams on a variety of projects, helping the other as and when required. Vendors can, for example, provide critical product training support, while resellers could help open new markets to vendors by giving them the benefit of their vertical expertise.
In line with this focus, Ant recalled a troubling moment in Afghanistan, when paralysed with fear and unable to punch his way through a door into a room where he knew an enemy combatant was likely to be hiding. A fellow soldier sensed Ant’s hesitation gave a reassuring squeeze to his shoulder. Just knowing that his team had his back gave Ant the strength to carry on.
There is a lesson here for businesses also. When times are hard, colleagues or partners working on the same project will sometime need to step outside their comfort zone. In such instances, having a solid team behind them to reassure and support them is fundamental to the success of the overall goal.
From Ant’s perspective, success in any mission is about unswerving dedication to each other and the knowledge that if one team member is in difficulty, the others will pitch in to help him or her out.
As Ant himself says: “If you have got a team where everyone is sticking together and is completely honest with each other, and you can communicate in that way, then you will be unstoppable. You will be able to take those calculated risks that push you onto that next level because you know that you have got a team behind you that are going to catch you if you fall. You will feel that you can take on any task – no matter what it is.” It is the reason that the best teams succeed in the military and in business.
To find out more about Enghouse Interactive, visit: www.enghouseinteractive.com