These are the champions that answered Wales’ call

Wales’ unsung contact centre workers have been celebrated as the 22nd annual Welsh Contact Centre Awards move online to honour those who adapted their ways of working to become our lifelines during the pandemic.

Organised by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum and backed by headline sponsor, RingCentral, the awards recognise a sector which contributes £650m annually to the Welsh economy and employs 32,000 people who would normally be based in 250 centres across the country.

However, we all know that 2020 has been a year like no other. As lockdowns disrupted the way we all live, work and access the services we depend on, the outstanding contributions made by this sector truly became invaluable as we faced the ‘new normal’.

Sandra Busby, managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, said: “Every year, our winners and nominees represent the very best in an industry that generates substantial economic value and valuable career opportunities. However, this year has also seen Wales’ skilled contact centre teams play an ever more essential role to ensure that, despite all of the challenges brought by the coronavirus crisis, we all can access the support, services and expertise we need to keep our lives and businesses moving forward.

“In these stressful times, our colleagues have worked tirelessly to ensure that when we pick up the phone, send an email or open a web chat, someone will be there to help. Though the technology may evolve, and new challenges will present themselves, ours is an industry made possible by people. Tonight, we honour, celebrate, and applaud those who in the face of an unprecedented crisis, have continued to be there when we call on them.”

Further sponsors alongside headliners RingCentral included Cardiff & Vale College, CGI, Yolk Recruitment, Legal & General Insurance, Jomo People, Arvato, Deloitte, RW Learning, Jabra, TSW Training, Web Fibre, Firstsource Solutions, CCA Recruitment, Inspire Me and Majorel.

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters said: “The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the way we live and work.

“Across Wales those working in contact centres have responded to the public health crisis with resilience, flexibility and determination. This has meant the vital services they provide have been available when people have needed them most.

“Thank you to each and every member of staff for all you have done this year and everything you continue to do to support individuals, families, communities and businesses in all parts of our country.”

Over 1000 virtual guests joined the digital celebrations and the Award’s celebrity host, Rylan Clark-Neal, to congratulate gold and silver winners in 22 categories. The night saw Monzo Bank in Cardiff crowned the Medium/Large In-House Contact Centre of the Year; Legal & General Direct Sales in Cardiff took the gold for Small In-House Contact Centre of the Year and the silver went to Principality Building Society; CGI secured the gold for Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year and Firstsource Solutions in Cardiff picked up the silver; the 2020 Shared Service Centre of the Year title was bestowed on Swansea-based, Arvato.

The gold award for Senior Manager of the Year award was presented to Carl Johnson of SSCL; Andrew Rose of Firstsource Solutions was named Contact Centre Manager of the Year; the silver award for Support Manager of the Year was presented to Kayleigh Walker of Molson Coors and the gold went to Laura Jones of Dŵr Cymru; Ann Marie Evans of One Team Logic received the silver for Team Leader of the Year and the gold was claimed by Aimee Macken of HSBC.

This year’s recipient of gold Support Person of the Year was shared Gemma Spencer of Blackhorse Finance and Shaun Collins of Dwr Cymru. In the Advisor of the Year category, gold went to Paul Gibbs of Lloyds Banking Group and the silver to Simon Wiggins of Legal & General Retirement.  In the Trainer of the Year category, it was Dai Phipps of Consumer Helpline for the silver, with the gold award shared by Sue Entwistle of Wales & West Utilities and Hayley Hopkins of Legal & General Insurance.

Recognising the sector’s newest talents, the Apprentice of the Year for 2020 is Aimee Scott of HSBC; Veronica Horgan was named Graduate of the Year, and the gold award for Newcomer of the Year was shared by Philippa Bowen of Student Finance Wales and Tia Noakes of PHS.

For the company awards, Deloitte and Target shared a gold for Best Inclusion Strategy; Hodge Bank secured the silver in the Business Improvement Strategy category and Deloitte brought home the gold. The gold for Customer Engagement went to Link Financial and Sensée secured gold for People Engagement. Legal & General Investments received the silver for People Development, while Admiral took gold. Admiral also shared the gold with SSE in the Support Team of the Year – People & Customer category. In the Support Team of the Year – Processes/Business Improvement/Technology category it was Legal & General Retirement for the silver and Legal & General Insurance for the gold.

New for 2020, the AI/Data Product or Service category recognised businesses who have embraced innovation and new technology to enhance the services they provide.  The judges decided that the award’s first recipient was SSCL.

Louise Newbury-Smith, Regional Vice President of Enterprise Sales, RingCentral said: “It’s been a testing year for contact centres. With that adversity has come opportunity. This evening showcased some of the impressive steps businesses have taken to keep delivering excellent customer service through the pressures of the pandemic, changing customer expectations, and an uncertain future business landscape. On behalf of RingCentral, I’m honoured to have been able to celebrate the year’s successes, and I look forward to discovering what 2021 has to offer.”