Last Saturday I wakened to find a winning Premium Bond letter in the mail, before we get too excited it was a £25 win, enough to brighten up a gloomy grey Glasgow morning but hardly life changing.

By late afternoon I was on to a loser having failed to spot the obvious winner of the Grand National, Rule The World, a 33-1 shot who had never previously won a steeplechase and ridden by a 19-year-old David Mullins. Rule the World is owned by Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, and the smile on his face told a thousand words in terms of what winning meant to him and the team. 

My winning streak returned in the evening however as Kevin Simm romped home to win “The Voice.” Ok it’s not exactly my win (I don’t generally watch The Voice or come to think of it back horses!) but the CCA events team had got off the starting blocks early and booked Kevin to sing at the CCA Gala Dinner and Excellence Awards ceremony in November; his success was our icing on the cake. 

Winning in our personal lives can be relatively well defined, especially if we are competitive sports people, or have a series of plans and goals to measure our personal achievements. Winning in the workplace can be a complex affair, as so much depends on culture, management styles, and often its very definition varies from organisation to organisation. At one end of the spectrum the culture may be closer to “it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part” versus the opposing “winning isn't everything, it's the only thing” the famous Vince Lombardi quote. And in fact as an organisation changes focus, CEO, or goes through a rough ride there can be a rapid change from one end of this spectrum to the other. 

Measuring success where your role involves continuously interacting with others can indeed be tricky and some might say impossible. A self perceived big tick in dealing empathetically with a vulnerable customer with a complex pension enquiry may well result in a nudge to wrap up earlier, be a little less chatty, and remember the training. Resisting the temptation to be as rude and irrational as an unpleasant caller, who may have a variety of unrelated reasons for their temperament, can be a devastating encounter for an eager associate who wants to please and ends up with a bad score. Dealing with emotions, complaints and with lonely people who may just want to chat, can pose a real dilemma for any organisation that is trying hard to please most of the people most of the time and sometimes ending up pleasing just a few. In this context what does winning and success really mean and how do you strike the right balance? 

A speaker from one of our banking members gave the example of a front line associate who was constantly being warned about calls being too long. The same individual was sent a bouquet of flowers from a customer for being so helpful in resolving a complex enquiry. Understanding the breakdown of how your customer base is currently contacting you and the reasons why they need to speak is of course the Holy Grail in being able to reserve valuable associate caller minutes for issues that can’t be handled online or other non-voice means. Using big data to really understand the skills gaps that you have and what can sensibly be handled in a more cost effective way sounds scary but is becoming essential in our increasingly complex environments. In the absence of this we tend to gravitate around averages and as we know there is no such thing as an average customer.  

As with most things in the customer service world, the more granular the analysis of what is actually happening, or “what is is” the more likely it is that wise investments will be made and of course relevant and helpful measurements will be adopted to determine “are we winning?” as an organisation and am I winning as a part of the overall we becomes clearer and less of a gamble.

Back to my winning Saturday, I don’t think I’ll be taking up backing horses, but as the song says two out of three ain’t bad!

For more infomration on the CCA Excellence Awards please click here.