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I have been judging the 2016 Engage Awards today. The award ceremony will be on the same day in November as the Customer Engagement Summit in London, which from the agenda looks like it will be the biggest ever and this event has been running for five years now.

I’m judging two categories, the best use of social media and the customer engagement professional of the year. Both are exciting and I have been scanning the entry forms all afternoon, rating each entry and filing my own scores alongside the other judges.

I have judged a few other awards in my time, particularly the NOA annual awards when I was on their board for seven years, but what I do like about the process used at Engage Customer is that each judge remains unaware of the winner. I’m contributing my part to the process, but I don’t know how other judges have ranked the same entries which avoids the problem of “group think” in the judging room. Naturally it also makes the award ceremony more exciting when I can see who won the categories that I judged.

Deciding on the customer engagement professional of the year is quite a responsibility. To choose individuals who have led the customer engagement strategy of their company or simply gone far beyond the extra mile in defining the culture of their organisation is not easy. In my own judging for this category I have been looking for individuals who not only inspire great customer engagement, but they need to be consistent too – it’s about inspiring a culture or ethos, not just a contact centre manager who sends flowers to customers.

Social media has also become extremely important today and I would define social media as a much wider area than just the social networks – Facebook and Twitter for example. When exploring the best use of social media I wanted to see examples of image-based interactions, customer reviews, price comparison, and customer generated content – not just offering the option to get in touch using WhatsApp.

Fortunately the entries have been superb in both categories. I’m still finalising my scores now, but by the time you read this they should all have been filed with the Engage Customer team. I hope to see you at the Customer Summit and Engage Award ceremony in November. Click here for more details on how to attend.

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