Only five days to go before most of us will be tucking into our turkey and enjoying the fun of the festive season with friends and family. In the middle of the jollity, we should doff our party hats to dedicated contact centre workers everywhere who will be manning phone help lines instead of scoffing mince pies and opening presents.

Many people will work throughout Christmas Day in a variety of call centres which provide critical support 365 days a year - including homeless persons’ charity Crisis, the Samaritans, the RAC, NHS24 and all of the emergency services. The teams include regular employees as well as volunteers who selflessly give their time to serve others and what’s more, they do it with good grace and cheer.

Among this year’s helpers are 1,200 volunteers at the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) Peterson air force base in Colorado Springs which began ‘tracking Santa’ back in 1955.

The tradition began by accident when Sears Roebuck advertised a phone number for children to call Santa but by mistake printed the number for the Commander-in-Chief of the forerunner to NORAD, the Continental Air Defense Command. Luckily, Colonel Harry Shoup who answered the call, had a good sense of humour and happily gave updates on Santa’s whereabouts to lots of excited children.

Today, 58 years later, NORAD uses radars to alert children worldwide to Santa’s departure from the North Pole and heat-sensor satellites to track his sleigh’s progress round the world, led by Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and of course everyone’s favourite, Rudolph. According to NORAD, “...Rudolph’s nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites detect Rudolph’s bright red nose with no problem.” (So that’s a relief - one less thing to worry about this Christmas!)

Santa-tracking is very much a multi-channel activity these days with children contacting NORAD by phone, email, Facebook and Twitter and via a website which has already begun counting down the days, hours and minutes until his arrival – click here to view.

We’re not sure whether NORAD has achieved a real-time ‘single view’ of Santa around the globe yet but we hope when dear old Santa lands in the UK that he might take a look at the wishlist we posted up the CCA chimney this week. Here is a sneak peek at what we asked for this year:

Dear Santa,
We’ve all been very good girls and boys this year but our jobs are quite hard and we would be really really grateful if you could pop a few magical things into your sack to help us be even better next year.
Our wishlist
A sprinkling of magic dust to provide a single view of our customers
A crystal ball to predict call volumes on Christmas and other days too
A promise from the board to visit their contact centre every month to listen to calls
A magic hammer to smash the silos that get in the way of trying to help customers
A clever analytics toolkit so we can make sense of all that data we collect
A shiny new social media team right in the heart of our contact centre
A secret formula to demonstrate the real strategic value of contact centres
 Merry Christmas to one and all,
Anne Marie