Past Award Judges Interviews

Sydney Yuen,
Chairman, HBC

Can you introduce yourself for our readers?

I am an investor, I am an entrepreneur and I am an advisor. My personal goal is to help companies or individuals to be successful. I had been the chairman for APCAL for 4 years and I have been the chairman for HK Contact centre association for 6 years. I got my first call centre experience in 1988 when I ran the contact centre operations for American Express.

How did you get to become a CCAS judge?

I have been involved in the call centre industry for APCAL in the region for years. I have been a judge for Singapore, Malaysia, HK and China for the past 10 years - Combining over 500 and over a 1000 applicants.

Tell us more about your experience as a judge. What did you learn from it?

The common learning from all this judging: it’s all about elements of strategy, process, technology and people. That involves customers as well as employees. This learning is obviously from different industries and different countries. That’s where the motivation to be a judge comes from: cross fertilization of learning is such a powerful thing. 

What makes the CCAS awards so valuable?

Winning an award will give your customers the confidence that you can serve them well. Because Singapore is similar to Hong Kong, a high cost country, customer expectation is higher. Using the logo of CCAS will add tremendous value therefore from a market differentiation perspective. 

What advice do you have for first time participants?

Enjoy the ride. Learn from each other. There is always something to learn. Particularly in a time of change where a lot of KPIs are going through transformation. It’s always a good idea to learn from experienced judges. They can share innovative insights because of the very fact that they are assessing many awards entries.

What makes this industry special in Singapore as opposed to other countries?

I have talked about it earlier. Singapore is a high cost country. Most of the regional headquarters in South East Asia are in Singapore. There are a lot of international customers and corporations. Therefore you want to give here an example of great customer service, and call centre is always the front end of the customer service journey. 

Tell us a story – Without revealing who that was, what’s your funniest time as a judge?

When we were assessing a centre, the participant showed us a graph demonstrating that the call centre satisfaction was very high. When we asked whether we could call the centre right now she said ok. We called and waited for 10 minutes – nobody answered. The lady got very embarrassed and we all had a laugh at it. 

The morale of that funny yet embarrassing story is that statistics can lie. Customers expect you to answer the right way all the time. It’s a constant challenge. Sometimes the judging process is a wake-up call. 

Last but not least, what’s your advice to future participants wanting to win gold?

There are three things for any call centre that wants to be a best practice call centre. 

1.It has to be driven by customer requirements

2.It has to be data driven

3.It has to be seamless. No matter what channel you use, web, chat etc it has to be seamless

Winners will focus on simplicity, speed, and anytime anywhere. Always one step ahead of your competitors. One more thing: Go to the award judging as if you have already won. You just tell your judges how you achieved excellence with that mindset. Customer success has to be 100%, not 90% or 95%.




All interviews by Augustin du Payrat.