This week found us at The Icetank, an ultra-modern blank canvas of a space in the heart of London’s theatre land. We were using this as a venue for a team building event that we produced for one of our clients.
Our brief was to get them working together as a team, adding in a bit of friendly competition but most of all they also wanted to kick-back and celebrate what has been a busy year for them.
On arrival at the all-white Icetank, they were split in to teams and were briefed on their task for the day. All the teams had to work together to make lunch, with each team being responsible for either the starter, the main course or the dessert. Firstly they had to agree a common theme, negotiate over the allocated budget, work together to decide how best to use the limited cooking resources before they headed out to the shops for their ingredients.
That was the collaborative part! In addition, they also had to compete with each other by gaining points by completing some simple tasks. Each team had to ‘tweet’ us with photos of them with a variety of different people and locations. This included getting a photo at a famous London landmark, in a deli counter, with someone in uniform and with someone famous. We thought the latter might, at best, produce a photo with statue. However, a stroke of luck saw a taxi draw up outside the Icetank, just as the teams were heading to the shops, and out stepped two members of the band McFly. Within seconds they were surrounded by people asking for photos with them – not sure if getting points was more important or just tweeting a photo of them with the boys. If you want to see some of their photos, have a look on twitter using the hashtag #gbice.
They decided on an American 1950’s diner theme and served up a typical menus of potato skins, wings, burgers and sundaes (complete with sparklers!). The Icetank was converted by imaginative use of slide shows, music and table decorations.
At the end of the meal, the teams awarded points to each other based on the quality and creativity of their course. The winners were given a cheque to allocate to a charity of their choice.
We were really impressed with not only this group’s enthusiasm for the tasks but also their culinary skills!
A big thank you to Michelle McKenna, Customer Experience & Training Manager at Sealed Air, for her kinds words of recommendation.
“I have worked with Gary and his team from GB Training & Consulting Ltd since 2005. During that time they have worked with us on various projects related to coaching, training and equipping our own staff with the knowledge and ability to train others. Gary and Belinda designed two Customer Service Excellence Programmes that were initially used in the UK, then across Europe, Middle East and Africa. The measure of success of these programmes is that they are now used globally within Sealed Air to train our Customer Service teams to ensure we have a reliable and consistent approach that our customers demand. Their approach to understanding our business as we have evolved over the years is outstanding and the bespoke training programmes reflect their true understanding of what is required in the fast changing world of Customer Service.
Most recently in November 2012 they delivered their 5th Customer Service Excellence Train the Trainer to a global group of participants. The style they train in is highly facilitative with a learning centred focus on course objectives, whilst still maintaining high energy and creating an excitement in the participants about their future in training and the benefits it brings to us. We now have over 31 members of our Customer Service team, across 15 countries with the ability to train their colleagues in Customer Service Excellence. We pride ourselves on our high standards of service and believe that our Customer Service training programme gives us a competitive edge. I highly recommend Gary and his Team and thank them for the benefits they have brought to our people, our customers and our organisation as whole.”
We took some time out last week to visit the Contact Centre Expo at London’s Olympia. These events are often a good barometer of what is happening in the sector and, as a training and development organisation, provide us with a valuable insight in to the current thinking.
We weren’t surprised to find the usual array of large, impressive and, no doubt, costly exhibition stands from some major players in the industry. These companies were all related to IT solutions – from sophisticated IVR systems through to cloud based call handling technology.
We had gone expecting there to be a similarly impressive range of learning and development suppliers showing their wares, since surely, the contact centre business remains highly dependant on attracting, recruiting, training and maintaining a high calibre staff capable of providing the best possible sales and/or service solution to both the client and the consumer. It was both surprising, and disappointing that we came across just two such vendors. One a large global customer service training organisation (offering an identical solution to every one of their potential clients) and what seemed a much smaller company with a more tailored approach.
More worrying was that both of these stands were tucked away at the far end of the exhibition hall and despite there being many visitors, they seemed to be the only ones that weren’t attracting much attention.
There could be good reasons for this – maybe this particular exhibition was aimed more at the ‘technical’ side of the operation and attracted potential visitors that were interested in finding new and innovative IT solutions. Maybe it’s only the big IT companies that can afford to exhibit in these large venues. What worried us was whether the focus on training and development has slipped. In the past, training budgets have often been the first to be slashed in difficult times.
Whatever the reason, we just hope that those investing in the future capability of their contact centre don’t forget that, in most cases, it is staffed by people. These people need to work in harmony with the IT. That requires a focus and commitment to helping them be the best they can possibly be.