Tom Oliver, Internal Communications Technology Executive
AfB’s #TwitterTom Goes to CCW Europe
“Uh oh, they’ve sent me to another event, except this time…it’s in Amsterdam!”
These were some of the initial thoughts running through my mind as I sat down at Luton airport on 6th October. However, once the nerves had left, I began to feel excited in anticipation for the conference and the trip ahead.
As you will see from my short video below, it started a little drizzly (probably a bit of an understatement) as myself and Eamonn reached Amsterdam Centraal train station. After a quick walk (shower) to our hotel, we met up with Helen and settled into our surroundings.
The next morning began with a lovely breakfast and stroll around the beautiful Amsterdam canals which I didn’t get to see as much of when I visited a few years back (don’t ask why…). We then spritely headed to the Park Plaza Amsterdam to kick things off and get stuck into the day’s workshops.
Not quite knowing what to expect, we all parted ways and I headed into the cultural transformation room for a talk on high performance teams. Right away, I pleasantly surprised at just how many different nationalities and cultures we had present. On my table alone, I had people from Canada, Romania, Spain & the UK. It was brilliant to be able to take part in such interactive group discussions with people from all over the world and realise that no matter what country you were from, we all had one common goal – to improve the customer experience.
Following a successful morning, the day continued with the same positive energy and enthusiasm. I was lucky enough to attend a really insightful workshop from Martin Hill-Wilson on Emotional intelligence. Next up, was our very own Managing Director, Helen Gillett taking centre stage for a very inspiring panel discussion alongside Petra Mengelt and Melanie Stemerdink discussing Women Leadership in Customer Contact. I think it’s fair to say I left the hotel feeling a lot more knowledgeable than when I went in.
Conference Day One
Day one of the conference started bright and early with a nice networking breakfast in the exhibition hall before getting stuck into the morning’s talks.
It was great to hear the experiences and lessons learned from big organisations such as RBS, Deutsche Telekom, DHL etc. Some interesting food for thought for AfB to take back to the ranch which will help our ongoing mission to develop our customer experience processes
After a quick refreshment break, we headed into the track sessions which included some of my favourite talks from the whole event. Important conversations on topics such as ‘Are companies losing touch with their customers?’ and driving engagement and enablement in the workplace. Plus, this was made even more enjoyable by the beautiful hall with stained glass windows – pictured below.
A belly full of lunch and a failed build-a-bike attempt later, we were all set for the afternoon sessions. We kicked proceedings back off with several engaging table discussions and moved around the hall, gathering information on the go! One of the highlights was Helen’s table discussion on the role of leadership in driving customer transformation, which was brilliant as we had so many varied perspectives at the table.
It was then time for Helen’s keynote speech on ‘Delivering award winning customer experience and workplace engagement in a highly competitive environment’ (see Helen in action, pictured below). This was delivered expertly as per usual and it made me proud to see myself and my colleagues up on the big screen, highlighting our award-winning workplace and efforts around employee engagement.
Following this high of seeing AfB on the big stage, the afternoon served us even more highlights (and even a few laughs!). Such entertaining, yet informative talks from the likes of Bruce Daisley (Twitter) and James Dodkins (ROCKSTAR CX). James even had everyone on their feet, clapping, singing and laughing out loud- not something I was expecting to be doing, but it was a great way to get everyone engaged after such a busy day.
Later that day, we attended the first ever CCW Europe Awards, where we were honoured to be finalists in the Best Contact Centre Culture category. Having put together our written entry and visual content to support our entry, then came the moment we had all been waiting for…would AfB take home the gold!? We waited in anticipation for the announcement of our category. The AfB team were eventually awarded runners up to the well-deserved winners (and neighbours of ours!) – Ocado. Congratulations once again on your win!
Conference Day Two
CCW Europe day deux started a little later than previously (I won’t go in to why…) but nevertheless it started brilliantly with a panel discussion and an insightful talk on messaging for customer engagement. It was interesting to hear about the latest CX trends of 2019 too and how we can get the most out of them. Eamonn, Helen and I took lots away from the morning. It was interesting to hear about the latest customer behaviour trends, the rise in AI & chatbot usage and telephone communication remaining the most popular method, even though it is declining somewhat.
After a few more light snacks and a refreshment break, we went along to the last track sessions of our trip and juiced as much last-minute knowledge as possible. It was also brilliant to finally see our poster up in bright lights in the exhibition hall so people could read into the fantastic contact centre culture we have installed here at AfB! (how very biased of me).
What a great experience CCW Europe had been for me. To network and engage with so many different cultures and working styles, left me with great new perspective on a range of topics. Did I hear somebody say CCW Berlin 2020? 😉