Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Incentives in Contact Centres for a Happy, Healthy Staff

Incentives have always been crucial in contact centres, and focusing on the well being of employees clearly pays off. To find out more visit

Incentives are built into the fabric of successful contact centres. When it comes to sales and telemarketing, a happy, healthy staff can make that crucial difference. And one organisation that understands the importance of incentives is Garlands. Garlands has four prestigious contact centre locations in the UK as a leading provider of outsourced customer contact services via phone, email and the Web. Garlands works for a number of UK blue chip companies.

Incentives – The Secret of Success

Garlands has four contact centre locations - Hartlepool Marina, Middlesbrough, Stockton and South Shields, and the company is planning to open a fifth site in South Africa. These call centres create a call handling capacity of 36 million every year. And with annual sales reaching £48.6m a year (as of Oct 2007), incentives are the secret of their success. It's a staggeringly successful contact services company, employing 3,000 people in the North East. And Garlands put their success down to their philosophy which revolves around employee incentives, including:

l  The importance of stimulation and development for employees, as well as respect for all staff
l  To ensure employees perform at their best by supporting them with the best technologies
l  As well as personal incentives, Garlands create motivational environments that promote teamwork
l  To deliver exceptional customer service

The companies who use Garlands' contact centres can be assured these core values offer them quality and value. And Garlands realise that incentives for staff and investing in staff is central for the success of any contact centre. In the Spring of 2008, the company launched a Healthy Living campaign. And the move has proved a big hit with staff. Healthier employees are happier, capable and motivated. The campaign therefore focused on helping to prevent chronic disease by encouraging staff to:

l  Cut down and quit smoking
l  Increase or incorporate exercise into their lives
l  Adopt healthier diets
l  Reduce or have increased awareness of alcohol consumption
l  Recognise and manage stress

The Incentives of Healthy Living for Contact Centre Staff

The incentives of healthy living are clear: to achieve a slimmer, more attractive figure, to be physically fit and healthy, and to live a longer life, maximising quality of life. Garlands promoted the Healthy Living campaign with effective internal communications such as using posters, e-mail and the intranet, and through GaGa (the company's own radio station). As well as diet, smoking cessation and alcohol awareness, the company also highlighted safety in the sun and sexual health to its contact centre employees. Partnerships with local health providers has also meant the contact centre staff had plenty of incentives to opt into the Healthy Living campaign, offering free sexual health advice clinics, sports development programmes, health checks at local gyms and alcohol awareness clinics.

Homeworking – A Flexible Approach for Contact Centre Employees

Homeworking is being investigated by Creative Sheffield as a flexible alternative for contact centre services to complement office space in London.

Homeworking is an increasingly common trend across all sectors, for businesses across the UK. As employment law shifts to accommodate family life, flexible homeworking is being built into the very fabric of working life. And even in sectors traditionally associated with offices and team work, such as the contact centre industry, homeworking is being considered.

The Digital Home Working Initiative

Creative Sheffield – the city economic development company – has spearheaded ambitious plans to create a legion of entrepreneurs in the city who will offer contact centre services from their own homes. The scheme is called The Digital Home Working initiative; individuals interested in spear heading their own customer service or contact centre services in their homes will be supported by Creative Sheffield to do so. It's a visionary attempt to bring homeworking into the contact centre sector, and Creative Sheffield will offer not just skills and training for homeworking schemes, but business investment and start-up advice.

Homeworking Pilot Scheme Kicks Off

The homeworking initiative for contact centres kicked off with a pilot scheme involving 50 people, with the plan to expand the scheme into a two-year programme involving up to 1,000 people interested in homeworking. Creative Sheffield is bolstering its homeworking initiative by putting out to tender for an experienced contact centre, customer service centre or telemarketing supplier to help provide a routing link between the service providers and end user clients.

Homeworking: Flexible and Efficient

The homeworking scheme could be adopted across the UK if the initiative is a success. Creative Sheffield is ensuring the pilot is given the best opportunity possible by providing homeworkers who set up their own contact centres with the necessary IT equipment and infrastructure for professional call handling. John Hudson is the Director of Enterprise and Skills at Creative Sheffield, he said in a press release that the home working scheme was an attempt to overcome some of the difficulties the contact centre/ customer service sector faces in-house. The homeworking schemes aim is to provided more flexibility and greater efficiency. Mr Hudson said: “The home working model is more flexible and readily accommodates the graveyard shifts and weekends. We aim to match supply to demand more closely. Improving the working environment for people leads to increased reliability and greater productivity. Importantly, operating overheads for virtual call centres are significantly lower.”

Friday, 11 May 2012

Print management – what’s involved?

So what exactly can print management do for you?

Whether you’re streamlining your role, looking for someone to take print management responsibility off your hands, or you’re expecting your company’s print requirements to increase in the future and you want someone to manage it for you, you need to know more about print management. To find out more visit

What is print management?

Print management is a service offered by many printers across the UK. Its purpose is to help you achieve the best print results possible at the best cost. By looking both at your individual print jobs and at your overall requirements, printers can ensure that your documents and brochures are printed to the highest standards without you constantly being involved:

  • One job at a time – print management experts know that every job is important to you, which is why they operate on a job-by-job basis. Each print requirement is looked at in detail to see where cost and time savings can be made and to look for the best ways to produce the document to the highest standards. You’re consulted along the way, but good print management allows you to remain hands-off.

  • From design to print – print management starts working for you the moment you make an enquiry. You may not have even begun to design your document yet, but talking to print managers before you do could help you to get things right from the start. If you talk through your thoughts with your printer, they’ll be able to give you invaluable help and advice that can influence the way you approach your project. From this initial conversation to the time the finished job lands on your desk, your print management adviser is there to help.

  • Your total print requirement – whilst you’ll always get help and advice on each job you undertake, pro-active print management means that you’ll also get the benefit of more general help and advice. Reducing the quality of your paper stock may help to save money, and outsourcing labelling or envelope-filling may make things more efficient. Where your print management adviser sees an opportunity for a more efficient process, they’ll let you know.

If you want to find out more about print management and how it can help you to save time and even money, talk to a specialist printer today. If you’re new to the printing environment, choosing a print management expert will help you to get your brochures or mailings underway with the minimum amount of fuss. If you’re a seasoned print or marketing manager, using print management will help to free up your time so that you can concentrate on your campaigns and their results.

Print Management – Things to Look for from Print Management Experts

Many companies will decide to outsource their print management during 2012 but there are many print management specialists on the market so it’s important to ensure that they offer what your business requires to grow from e brochures to flyers.

The cost of maintaining print procedures is growing in the modern work environment and, if left unchecked, many companies will discover that their printing procurement costs have spiralled out of control. With this in mind, more and more businesses are turning to print management professionals to evaluate their procurement methods and implement a more cost effective means of creating print media and managing marketing campaigns such as direct mail marketing. The type of print management that a company requires is largely dependent on the size of the company concerned and the type of print media that they typically produce. However, those companies looking to employ the skills of print management professionals should ensure that they provide the right type of services and will be able to successfully dovetail with the overriding business principles of the company in question.

Print Management – Elements to Consider

As an ever growing number of companies employ the services of print management professionals, it is important to make sure that the right choice is made and, generally speaking, most print management companies will provide services such as the following:

  • Ongoing support and management – Generally speaking, print management experts will take full control of the printing processes of their client and this includes providing extensive support and administration. They will also be on hand to answer any print related problems or queries that their clients may have.
  • Specific pricing models – Print management providers will be able to offer a variety of pricing plans that can be carefully tailored to suit the needs of each specific client. By utilising a pre-approved printing budget, print management professionals can ensure that print media costing doesn’t spiral out of control.
  • Assessing documents – First and foremost, print management experts will be able to take stock of a company’s requirements when it comes to print management and formulate a proposal that provides high quality print media at a price that is considerably more cost effective than would otherwise be the case.

Have Your Updated Your Customer Database?

With around  1.25 million address changes per year, as reported by Royal Mail, how can contact centres and service desk professionals make sure that their customer database is up to date? To find out more visit
Royal Mail's PAF (Postcode Address File) stores the addresses for 28 million people in the UK and Royal Mail expects to make around 1.25 million address changes to its database each year.  With such a large number of address changes per year, a customer database needs to be adequately maintained and reviewed on a regular basis. 

For a customer database that is not maintained properly, it will  will decay at the conservative rate of anything up to 30 per cent each year.  With such a high decay rate, a customer database will hold no usable information within a short five years' time.  So updating a customer database should be an annual priority for contact centres and service desk managers.

Evidence shows, at a calculated average each year, 13 per cent of people in the UK will move home, 600,000 people will die, 300,000 are expected to marry, 200,000 will emigrate and approximately half a million people will move to the UK.  These changes will make a large percentage of the current customer database and registers completely ineffectual if they are not monitored and maintained correctly.

Maintaining a company database is costly.  For mail order companies, they need to consider the cost of catalogue print and the cost of mailing them out to new addresses.  An average mail order company has a 50,000 strong database for their customers.  Although it will cost time and money to update a database on a regular basis, manually or otherwise, it will save money in the long-term – sending expensive catalogues to the wrong addresses is a futile. 

Old Database = Wasted Money

Incorrect data can cost a company around £20,000.  This is for wasted materials and postage alone, and only based on 10 per cent of decayed data within an otherwise functional database. £20,000 could easily reach a shocking £100,000 if half of the database has become unusable. 

Discrepancies in the customer database can largely affect return on investment (ROI) and simply put, an old database is money down the drain. 

Database Errors Cost Money!

Wasting high volumes of printed material not only damages cultural and social responsibility, but it will cost a company unnecessary money. 

Implementing data quality management (DQM) for a customer database is critical for data driven businesses. 

Accuracy is vital with a customer database and the correct information needs to be captured correctly at the point of entry.  Customer preferences such as choice of contact method are important.  Disturbing a customer on the phone when they specifically asked to be contacted via email could result in a lost customer.
Companies with large a database and high mail volumes will benefit from investing in Data Quality Monitoring (DQM) software.  DQM software can monitor data using specified guidelines set by the company and can raise alarms if anything appears to be inaccurate.  Companies with a smaller database can access web-based on-demand services for a short term service at a relatively smaller cost.