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Some suggestions for industry Awards entrants

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I share some suggestions for industry Awards entrants.

I like judging industry Awards

This year I’m scheduled to judge awards entries in Dubai, London, Amsterdam and Wiesbaden (Germany).

I think the benefits for an industry practitioner to judge an Awards are immense.

Because even if you work with a number of Clients in different industries and geographies – and even have some of your Clients enter and win Awards – your ‘exposure lens’ can still be narrower than it need be.

Judging Awards allows you to see what’s happening out there amongst organizations you may never work for or in geographies that you may not serve.

And it’s not always the ‘big names’ that put forward the best initiatives.

There’s a lot of gold out there in smaller and ‘local’ organizations too.


A few suggestions for industry Awards entrants

I tend to judge categories involving Customer Experience, Contact Centres, Digital Experience & Employee Experience.

So my suggestions here are drawn from those disciplines.  But I imagine the suggestions here can be extrapolated to other disciplines as well.

And with suggestions in general, it’s not just what to do – it’s also what not to do.


Is it a Group Award category or an Individual Award category?

Recently I judged a Face to Face presentation for a ‘Group Award’.  Unfortunately the Presenter used the word “I'” a lot.

I did this, I did that…because of me.

I looked down at the Judges timetable – yup this was a group award category.  So why so much ‘I’?

My suggestion is this.

If you’re involved in a Group or Team Award, the word ‘we’ goes a long way.

On the other hand, if you’ve entered an Individual Award of some kind then it’s appropriate to talk about you.  What you did, what you accomplished, how what you’ve done has made your organization a better place.


It’s great that you’ve won other Awards but…

In another judging experience, the Entrants began their Awards presentation by telling the Judges how many other awards they’d won.

It just felt awkward to have the presentation start off that way.  I sensed entitlement – as in – we’ve won so many other awards that surely we’re entitled to this one too.

I’d suggest this.

If your other Awards or achievements are specifically relevant to the Award you’ve entered then it’s worth mentioning at the right time and in the right context.

For example, in an individual Award the Entrant might say, “I was inspired when I won the Team Manager of the Year back in 20XX and that motivated me to enter this year’s Manager of the Year Award.”  

In this example, the Entrant’s sharing of their earlier Award was relevant to their current entry.


Superlative deeds matter more than superlative words

One thing nearly any Judge will tell you is that Entrants sometimes go overboard with ‘superlative words’.

Our unparalleled, dynamic, dream Team of inspired, culturally motivated self starters with entrepreneurial mindsets.

By the way, that’s not that far off the mark.

When everything is wonderful, fabulous, motivated, value-driven and so on, none of it feels real.  And overly puffed up language can actually take away from the great accomplishment being put forward.

You usually see the use of superlative words in written entries.  But I’ve also experienced it in face to face presentations where it comes off as a bit pompous or at the very least, unnatural.

What should be superlative is what got accomplished – the deeds.

So focus on the deeds.  And choose your descriptive words wisely.


Rehearse (rehearse, rehearse) your Face to Face presentation

Judges can always tell if you haven’t rehearsed your Face to Face presentation.  We’re not expecting a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

But folks who have rehearsed know that they have to communicate their key points and narrative within X time frame.

I’m a huge fan of Awards like the Awards International events where the timeframe is clearly set.  20 minutes for presentation (uninterrupted) and 10 minutes for Judges Q&A.

Look at Ted Talks – there’s an art & science involved in sharing your compelling story in a 20 minutes.  Elevator pitch, getting to the point, grabbing attention.  Sometimes less is indeed more.

So presentations that have been rehearsed tend to stick to the stipulated timeframe and rarely run over time.

Unrehearsed presentations, on the other hand, tend to be cut off before the material is done – and during Q&A there are usually awkward attempts to share slides or material from the content that didn’t get covered in time.

Don’t wing a Face to Face presentation.


Get creative

One of the best Face to Face presentations I witnessed was modelled as a talk show panel.

The Team presenting the entry had put together a fun and engaging narrative where the head of the initiative was a guest on a talk show and the host and other guests got to ask questions about their initiative.

It was fun and funny.  But most importantly they got their message across and you could sense the camaraderies amongst the Entrants.

There’s not a single model of presentation that ‘wins’ over others.

So don’t be afraid to engage the Judges – as long as you have your talking points and narrative well thought out try something different!


Follow the directions

Now and then you get the Entrant who doesn’t follow the directions for the structure of their presentation and what needs to be conveyed.

You can be a world-class speaking guru, but if your presentation doesn’t allow the Judges to readily score you across the requested categories or competencies you’re unlikely to make it to the Winner’s Circle.

I think that you learn as much through the process of completing your Awards entry – and preparing your presentation – as you do by delivering it and even winning.

So take the process seriously – you’ll benefit in the long run.

And – some Entrants tell me they turn around and use their Awards entry presentations inside their own organizations as well.  How smart is that!


In closing

I hope these few suggestions have been helpful and I look forward to judging your entry soon!














What I learned judging this year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018)

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

This year I had the great opportunity to judge at the UK Complaint Handling Awards, covering the latest in complaint handling practices.

After my return from the event my colleagues and friends asked me, Marcus, what did you learn?

First, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people across various industries, including Telcos, Banks, Insurances, Utility providers and many Government agencies.

That’s always one of the great things about participating at an Awards event.

The complaint handling practices shared in this article come from my role as a Judge.

As a Judge, I had the chance to meet all the Entrants, read their written submissions and listen to their respective face to face presentations to the panel.

As a result I learned some of the latest complaint handling practices out there in award winning Organizations.

Across all the Complaint Handling Team Entrants, 3 important things stood out 

There were 3 key complaint handling practices that I picked up from interacting with all the Complaint Handling Teams.

To improve the Customer complaint handling ‘practice’ within their Organization, they focused on:

  1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view
  2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time
  3. Targeting the Ownership of the complaint

Let me give some more detail on each learning

1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view

The Complaint Handling Teams indicated that they analyzed thousands of recorded calls, reviewed piles of surveys and read through thousands of emails and contact forms submitted by Customers.

Their strategic purpose was clear – to understand their Voice of the Customer.

The Complaint Handling Teams told us that, though other departments and functions did their own sets of analyses, they felt that pure focus on the Voice of Customer was missing.

So they created their own analysis function.

Guess, how important is it to the Customer that you use their names three or five times during a call?

Isn’t it more important to listen and understand what their concern or matter is?

Entrants started to read between the lines – from the Customer point of view – and acted on what they learned.

2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time

Equipped with the results of their analyses, the Complaint Handling Team went to their Management to propose changes to processes or rules that caused Customer discomfort.

Some of the process changes the Complaint Handling Teams shared were –


They took out the Average Handling Time to measure the Agent’s performance.

Agents suddenly had the freedom to listen, to react and find with the Customer a solution.

Escalation processes decreased dramatically.  Agents started to become more personal in their conversations.

Frontliners & Agents were officially empowered.

They were given the power to decide on the spot what to do for the Customer instead of getting permission from their superiors.

That helped to ease processes for the customer and complaint could be resolved during one contact.

Adding empowerment to the job makes it more interesting, enjoyable and challenging as well.

Some Complaint Handling Teams introduced new technology into the Contact Centres to support staff members.

Technology was introduced to support Team members to read the Customer’s history, react proactively, share information with other departments and schedule follow ups.

Training around the new technology and processes was scheduled and conducted so Employees were prepared before using the newsolutions.

That eased the transition for the Customer and held back stress on the Employees.

Interestingly, many complaints stemmed from questions about bills and statements.

The Complaint Handling Teams shared they were in the process of breaking this big topic down into workable parts.

3. Owning the Complaint

The Complaint Handling Teams shared was how important the concept of ownership was to complaint resolution.

That took one of two forms.

The Customer gets either one point of contact to deal with them all the way through.

Or the Customer history is made available to everyone in the Organization, and they are tasked to work together to resolve the issue.

While technology supported or ‘helped’ it was the process and the people that put things into action.

This really impressed me.

In closing

This year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018) have shown that Listen & Understanding the Customer’s Voice, more accessibility of data to Agents, simpler processes and taking ownership, lead to big improvements in Customer Experience.

Aside from the many KPIs, like NPS, that were presented, the most impressive part was the presentation was the gathered feedback from real Customers.

These Customers’ shared how impressed they were about the good care (“Ownership”), the easy processes (“History availability/System improvements”) and someone listened and heard their issues (Data analytics).

The Customers felt they were heard and more importantly helped.  They seemed to like using email to share their compliments.

In all cases, these simple changes reduced dramatically painful Customer Journeys throughout the organisations.

The Customer experience score for the organization went up dramatically.

I am glad to share that investment in data analytics, new processes and training in Frontline training have really paid off.

All the Complaint Handling Teams were able to demonstrate a financial ROI to back up their work.

They all retained Customers, gained new business and got promoted by their now happy Customers to others.

Isn’t this reason enough to start thinking on this?

Thank you for reading!

Marcus von Kloeden

What I learned judging the Gulf Digital & Customer Experience Awards

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

An innovative industry deserves an innovative Awards – and I’m privileged to have been involved as a Judge & Chairman.

In January I was in Dubai where I participated in the judging process for the Gulf Digital & CX Awards.

I was honored to act as the Chairman for the Contact Centre & Customer Experience categories as well.

Here I share my observations on the Awards process itself – and why I was so impressed with the Awards International format.

There is definitely a lot of great work going on in the Gulf Region – with some organizations well into their 3rd or 4th year of a concerted CX strategy and implementation.

What I liked about the Awards format

By any measure, a successful CX strategy involves a variety of innovations – both sustaining & disruptive – across the entire organization.

But most Awards programs I’ve seen run the same format year after year, or are run as an add-on to a conference.

But I believe that an innovative industry deserves an innovative Awards – and it was time for something new.

What impressed me –

The breadth of Awards categories

With more than 25 categories ranging from the best Employee Experience, not less than 6 Digital Experience Awards, Contact Centre, multiple Customer Experience awards and more, organizations had the opportunity to put forth projects & candidates across the breadth of what it takes to achieve CX at the organizational level.

I noticed that some organizations entered multiple categories – Digital, CX, Employee Experience.

Other organizations focused in on specific categories.  For example an HR Department entered the Employee Engagement & well-being categories.

There was literally something for everyone.

Project & campaign-based entries

Unlike Awards programs that feature annual ‘Best of the Best’ categories, the Awards International program encouraged entry by project or campaign.

For example in Contact Centre judging, I saw projects related to the implementation of Live Chat, specific call reduction strategies and even networking of sites across the Public Sector.

With regard to CX judging I saw projects related to the set-up and administration of CX governance committees, delivery of experience by segmentation & personas and extensive VOC activities.

This approach allowed smaller organizations to compete (sometimes successfully!) with larger organizations for the Award.

There was none of this ‘category by size’ grouping that makes some Awards programs so repetitive with the same categories being announced over and over.

Encouraging and recognizing project or campaign based accomplishments is at the heart of CX because so much is going on over such a long period of time (years in some cases).

What a small hotel chain can achieve with a digital strategy, or an employee engagement program, can readily compete with that of a large bank or telecom.

In fact some of the Winners were SMEs which was very heartening to see.

In the world of CX we can all learn from each other.

After all CX is a journey and not a destination.

The transparency of the process

The Awards judging process is elegant.

50% of the score is awarded based upon the written submission.

All submissions are placed online and judged online making it easy for Judges to work from anywhere.

And all results, including scores & comments, are provided to the Awards entrants when the judging process is finished.

The remaining 50% of the score is based upon the Face to Face presentation made by the Awards entrant to a panel of Judges.

These Judges are the same ones who judged the written submission.

All the comments and scores for the Face to Face judging are provided to the Entrants upon completion of the process.

It’s all highly automated and transmitted to Entrants when judging is completed.

Most Face to Face judging sessions – of about 30 – 45 minutes each – are open for viewing by an outside audience.

So if you have attended the Awards to cheer on one of your colleagues, you can decide which Face to Face sessions that you would like to sit in on and learn best practices and success factors from other Entrants.

Wow – talk about real learning.

In other Awards, most Face to Face judging sessions are conducted in great secrecy and behind closed doors.

This is a rather dated model in an era when everyone is taught to keep learning and relearning – and learn from each other.

In closing

In closing for this article, thank you to Awards International – you have developed a truly professional and robust Awards model for the world of CX.

And the 2017 Singapore & Regional Digital & Customer Experience Awards is up!  We’re proud to be a Founding Partner.


Thank you for reading!


[email protected] / www.omnitouchinternational.com

Daniel & M&C Class