ECCCSAs: How to be a winner at Europe’s biggest and best service awards

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With the 18th European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards having opened for entries last week, MyCustomer examines why the ECCCSA’s has become the continent’s premier competition, and shares tips for applicants.

A glamorous awards evening experience, great PR, industry recognition, and the prestige of having competed against organisations from across Europe. Winners at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards (ECCCSAs) will walk away with much more than just a highly-coveted award.

Now in its 18th year, the ECCCSAs is both the longest-running and largest competition for the customer service sector in Europe.

Last year’s ceremony drew representatives from 19 countries, including Turkey, Poland and Sweden,  battling it out across 23 categories, with over 1,000 delegates attending the awards dinner. Attendees from over 100 organisations included pan-European well-known brands as well as smaller niche businesses.

And with more categories and applicants, the 2018 awards looks set to eclipse even this.

So what is the appeal of the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards?

“Just taking part in the process makes people stop and reflect on what they have achieved,” explains Ann-Marie Stagg, chair of the ECCCSA judging panel, president of ECCCO and chief executive of the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA). “A lot of people have said they have really enjoyed the experience because it makes them think about what they have accomplished over the previous 12 months. And of course if they are selected as a finalist they also get a lot of internal recognition -  their own organisations are very proud of them.”

And the positive PR extends beyond the confines of their businesses. Winning an ECCCSA award means receiving recognition from the whole industry – while also providing an opportunity to catch the attention of a much broader audience. Stagg explains: “The winner of the 2017 Large Contact Centre of the Year award, BGL, featured on the BBC’s The One Show last month. The programme was looking for an organisation that was great at delivering customer service for one of its items, and had learned about its success at the ECCCSA’s and invited the organisation  to appear on the show.”

She continues: “For many organisations, winning can have a very real impact on their business. For outsourcers, for instance, it could open the doors to more opportunities enabling them to attract more clients. And undoubtedly it can help businesses to attract the best employees if you’re able to say that you’re an award-winning organisation.”

For many organisations, winning can have a very real impact on their business.

And of course the awards evening also offers hard-working teams the opportunity to celebrate, whether that is winning an award, or just being shortlisted amongst the best – which is an achievement in itself, given the pedigree of the competition and its rigorous judging.

Indeed, the ECCCSA’s are particularly well-regarded within the industry due to the integrity and credibility of the judging process – something that Ann-Marie believes has been crucial to its growth.

“There are so many awards where applicants fill in a form and send it off, and then somebody scores it and you either win or lose. We passionately believe that is the wrong way to do it, which is why all of our awards involve face-to-face judging,” she explains.

“You have to meet applicants to have the opportunity to question them and really drill down into some of the answers in order to understand how credible their nomination is. And this process has been validated in the past, because we have had organisations that have been judged on the strength of their application, but when they are interviewed by the judges it has become clear that they have exaggerated their case in their written nomination and do not have the calibre of an award-winner. Equally, we have judged organisations that are actually far better than they think they are!"

The judges themselves are handpicked for their experience and knowledge, all of whom work in the industry, and many of which are previous award-winners. In order to ensure impartiality, none of the judges are suppliers or sponsors.

Application advice

With the ECCCSA’s now open for entries, interested organisations can view all 27 categories on the awards website, ranging from Best Innovation in Customer Service to Best Customer Service Team, and Outsourcing Partnership of the Year to Large Contact Centre of the Year.

Ann-Marie summarises the application process for first-time entrants.

“Register on the website, select a category and start to fill the nomination form in. Applicants can continue to edit their nomination form as often as they like, until the deadline when they must submit it. What we recommend is that you get key stakeholders to contribute to it – get others to read it and check it, because a fresh set of eyes will always help.

Applicants should be clear about the impact they’re having on the category that they are applying for, backing it up with facts and figures in order to evidence their achievements.

“After the deadline, we send the nominations to our panel of judges who will score them and create a list of finalists. The finalists will come to present to a panel of judges in London, while those shortlisted for Employer of the Year or Contact Centre of the Year will host a physical visit where the judges go to their operation, interview staff from all levels of the business and take a look around the contact centre. So it is very thorough! Following this process the judges then calibrate in order to identify Gold, Silver and Bronze in each category. The winners are announced at a lavish awards evening at Evolution in London’s Battersea Park on 27 November.”

And as someone who has been a nominee and winner herself at the awards – having scooped a prize for Industry Champion 15 years ago – Ann-Marie is perfectly placed to provide advice for first-time applicants who want to make an impression on the judges.

“I would say they need to reflect on what their story is,” she explains. “Sometimes nominations come in and they haven’t clearly articulated their journey. They should focus on telling their story: ‘we were here; we aimed to get there; we did this; we achieved that.’ It should have a flow to it, rather than just writing a nomination that rams in everything that has been done in the last 12 months.

“They should be clear about the impact they’re having on the category that they are applying for, backing it up with facts and figures in order to evidence their achievements. Ultimately, the judges will be studying applications for benefits across four areas: is it helping the customer? Is it helping the business? Is it good for the employee? And is it helping to create an effective and efficient operation?”

So with that advice in mind, if you think your customer service deserves industry recognition and a place on the winners’ podium, head over to the ECCCSA website and enter.

About Neil Davey

ND2

Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.

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