What makes a great awards judge?

The CCMA’s prestigious European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards are once again nearly upon us – albeit in a slightly different format to previous years!

We are once again proud sponsors of this event, which we feel is vital in helping promote excellence in our industry. Alongside sponsoring and presenting awards, we have also had the honour to take part in the judging process.

Here, our very own Martin Teasdale looks at what makes a great judge.

So what makes a great judge?

I’ve always been honoured to take my seat next to the other judges and look at the best our industry has to offer. The standards are always high, and you come away from the experience positive in the knowledge that our industry continually demonstrates evidence of exceptional customer service.

But the other reason I’ve always been proud to be a part of this process is because I get to see first hand the high standards and professionalism my fellow judges show.

Many finalists have said how good the panel has been at putting them at ease. This is in large part due to the ECCCSA team who provide a judges briefing everyday as part of a well organised and prepared operation.

Although there is a daily briefing, I wanted to share my own thoughts on how you can be a great judge, just in case anyone reading this fancies sitting on the other side of the judging table!

Tip 1 – Make it positive!

Recognise and be sensitive to the fact that, regardless of the outcome, presenting a nomination to a panel of judges is a very special day. Your words and actions as a judge have a significant bearing on the memories the nominees will have of the process for years to come – so make sure it’s a positive memory!

Tip 2 – Ease their nerves

Nominees may well be nervous when first entering the room; while this is to be expected, it is the judges’ responsibility to offer a warm welcome and do all they can to calm those nerves. A relaxed nominee is more likely to provide a clearer, more informative presentation. Be warm and welcoming and help if needed with any technical aspects.

Tip 3 – Congratulate them

Making it to the judging process is an achievement in itself and should be praised. Being willing to share their story and subsequently gaining recognition through being shortlisted is testament to the great work being done to raise standards within the industry – so feel free to let them know how proud they should be of what they’ve achieved so far.

Tip 4 – Keep intros short

The nominees will be keen to get going with their presentation – especially if they’re nervous – so when introducing yourself keep it to name, title and who you work for. Overly long introductions about how long you’ve worked in the industry or been a judge don’t add value and the nominees are unlikely to remember the extra details anyway.

Tip 5 – Be present and listen

The presentation and day of judging is a test of your active listening skills. The higher the standards, the finer the margin between nominations, so missing some key information from one of the presentations could have significant consequences. Be present.

Tip 6 – Make the Q&A count

If the right questions are asked, the Q&A session can be one of the most important, impactful parts of a nominee’s presentation. I find it works best when the judges pre-plan to ask one question each in order, and that the order is rotated so each judge can ask the first question at least once.

Tip 7 – Balance questions

The questions you ask are obviously important, but I think it’s worth noting that it’s for the judges to find the right balance between robust challenge and probing for reassurance or extra information. (Remember Tip 1 here, too.)

Tip 8 – Make it about the nominees

When it comes to all the interactions with the nominees, my overall reminder is that it is not about you – it is the nominees’ day. Your chance to deploy your experience and views over and above your questions will come when the nominees leave and you start completing the judging forms.

Tip 9 – Be organised

Being organised with the administrative aspect of judging will help you stay focused and ready to give your full attention to each new nominee.

These awards are one of the highlights of the year for me. The interactions with the other judges and the ECCCSA team is always good fun and seeing the consistently high standard of nominee’s presentations is a real privilege. I always come away energised and happy to be a part of our industry.