What does your role as Chair of the Awards Committee involve?
Firstly, I’m an advocate for the CCA Excellence Awards. I champion the awards through different channels – the CCA webinars, face-to-face meetings, leading practice sessions and at the Annual Convention, where I have the opportunity to facilitate sessions and chair discussions.
I’m also an advisor to new judges, particularly in helping them assess, fairly and objectively, the first stage written submissions. It’s very important for the integrity of the awards that we achieve a consistency and objectivity across our diverse panel of judges.
The most significant part of my role is the work I do on verification calls. Last year I made 27 such calls. In addition to those conversations, which take around an hour each, there’s a couple of hours’ preparation time, to make sure I’m thoroughly familiar with the organisation and their submission. As Chair I also step in, in cases where there’s a close call between two equally worthy submissions.
Apart from that, I’m generally available to awards entrants, CCA and the other judges as a sounding board, or to answer any procedural or general questions.
What do you feel makes the CCA Excellence Awards different from other awards?
It’s the breadth and quality of the peer experience that makes up the judging process, and the rigour that CCA places around that process.
There’s a huge diversity across industry sectors – and literally hundreds of years of experience within the judging panel. Each submission is assessed by three judges, which brings great objectivity and rigour. After that, comes the verification call, the interactive element of the assessment, which is also carried out to a meticulous level of detail.
When you think about breadth of quality and experience that sits within the judging panel, the amount of knowledge, experience and industry understanding is enormous. With that comes credibility. You’re being judged by people in whom you can have a great deal of confidence.
The rigour and experience in this process together make the CCA Excellence Awards extremely credible professional awards. To come through the assessment process to shortlist is in itself an enormous achievement, and there is real value and esteem in being recognised as a CCA Excellence Award Winner.
Why should organisations participate in CCA Excellence Awards?
Peer review is an integral part of professions such as science and medicine, but is less common in the commercial arena. But when you put yourself through a successful peer review through an award submission, people who have done what you do, and know all about the environment and the challenges – they are the ones who say, ‘this company stands out’. That’s real recognition and validation.
As judges, we see that the level of service and the science of service is improving significantly, year on year. Encouraged by CCA, and supported by the work they do in guiding people to write high-impact submissions, the overall quality of submissions for CCA Excellence Awards continues to increase too. To come through that increasingly competitive process and win, is a truly great achievement, whether for an agent, a leader or a team – it’s the very best recognition and acknowledgement of excellence that you could receive.
And a last word?
Our industry has grown and grown, and the number of conferences and awards has increased. They all have different business models around them, and different agendas. In a crowded arena, CCA is about as close to a Guild of Customer Service as you can get. CCA Excellence Awards are about the industry, of the industry, and for the industry.
In my view, the reason organisations should buy into CCA, Awards and Global Standard©, is that it’s the ‘real deal’. With these quality credentials and all the training, support, thought leadership, benchmarking, best practice and networking that sits behind them, CCA supports organisations operating in the customer services sphere in every possible way. And those organisations that achieve recognition within CCA’s exacting professional standards – they are truly standing out.
Director of Operations, GAVI
Chair of CCA Excellence Awards Panel
With a career spanning over 20 years in companies including bmi, Coutts & Co, ntl, Coca Cola and Elizabeth Arden, Andrew Mends has a breadth of corporate experience. Across sales, customer service, operational and contact centre management roles, he has been involved at executive level with operations, logistics, strategy development and customer service excellence.
Andrew currently works in Switzerland as Director of Operations with GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, a non-profit organisation dedicated to enabling access to vaccines for children living in poverty around the world.
He is also Chairman of the Excellence Awards Panel. Being outside the industry gives Andrew objectivity around the way the industry and its service culture is evolving. He remains a passionate advocate of great service and transformational change.