Interview with Karl Brough Sitel UK’s Regional Director

contact-centres caught up with Sitel UK’s Regional Director Karl Brough after he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Call Centre & Customer Service Awards in June (View News item) and soon realised that Karl is not a big fan of IVR and “Fly on the wall” documentaries about our industry!
sitel.karl.brough.image.2014What does the Life Achievement Award mean to both you and Sitel?

It is really nice to have recognition for what you do from the industry. It was a very surprising and wonderful moment. (to view  the video of Karl collecting his life time achievement award Click here)

How did you get into the contact centre industry?

I really wanted to earn some extra money as we were starting our family. I worked in hotel management and took a second job in a call centre to help ends meet! That was 25 years ago and the customer service industry was just starting up.

Is there a typical working week for you at Sitel?

One of the things that have kept me in the business is every week is so very different. It is the one industry where you are constantly facing new challenges and opportunities. One day I could be part of the bid team in any one of our 110+ domestic, nearshore and offshore call centres in 23 countries or in client meetings reviewing performance and another day meeting new technology partners to ensure we are keeping ahead of the competition.

How has Sitel changed since you first started?

From a very small call centre in Stratford to one of today’s Global outsourcing market leaders employing 56,000 people worldwide.

How has the industry changed since you first started in it?

When I first started the focus was on answering calls quickly and it was seen as a filler or a second job. Now the career opportunities are vast. The value of the transactions is so much higher and this has helped to grow the people. Technology has changed so much too. The industry is now more than ever focussed on the customer journey. Of course then it was voice only and now we have multi-channel and omni-channel solutions.

What do you think the industry will be like in 5/10 years?

It will continue to grow and with it people and the technology will continue to develop. From a client perspective there will be much more emphasis on self service to keep it cost effective and allow clients to focus on helping customers who really need it. We need to keep innovating and introduce different channels. Social media elements and web chat will grow too.

What do you think is better for the success of a contact centre – People or Technology?

People! People buy people.

How would you change the Public’s perception of contact centres?

I think it’s all about quality of service. We are in an economic challenging environment and all we want for our customers and their customers is to deliver excellent customer service and first call resolution. The more we can do that, the more we can enhance the quality and that dealing with contact centres is a pleasant experience. I do not think the “Fly on the wall” documentaries help as certainly in my experience, they are not representative of the industry at all.

Biggest bugbear about contact centres?

The over-use of multi-layer IVR technology. It is often a budget solution and not a quality one. It’s often damaging to the brand and can be counter productive in cost savings as the customer finds it frustrating and eventually goes elsewhere. A quality onshore solution with high First Call Resolution can be done as cost effectively as a near shore of offshore solution.

What has been your major success at Sitel apart from wining the lifetime achievement award?

Growing the business generally and especially in Stratford where I started working – this site, in my home town, now has over 500 employees. In total as Regional Director for the UK, Ireland and Nordics, I now look after over 3000 employees. My goal is to extend the business by 25% – 30% in the next year or so. I hope also I’ve shown the career opportunities that are available to different generations.

Sum up your management style?

I like to think I have a very open and reflective management style, especially after all this time! I strive to keep the balance of 4 elements; our clients, our people, our client’s customers and our stake holders.

Interests outside of Sitel/contact centre industry?

I have lived in Stratford all my life with my family and have a lovely wife, daughter and 3 sons. After holding down 2 jobs as they were growing up it is nice now to have a better work/home balance!

How does Sitel differ from other outsource companies?

Experience is everything at Sitel. It’s what sets us apart from the rest.

By putting people first, we deliver outstanding experiences.

We share one common passion – to make each customer experience memorable.

We build trust and create strong customer relationships.

We add value through:

a people-first culture

operational excellence

Knowledge sharing & collaboration

global strength combined with local flexibility

Great customer experience starts with great people that are well trained and equipped to address the needs and add value to your customers.

Keeping the promise of better experiences is how Sitel is helping the largest brands in the world retain and grow their customer base. As a leading global outsourcing service provider of customer experience management across multiple verticals, Sitel combines knowledge sharing, a ‘people first’ culture and unparalleled excellence at both the global and local level. Whether you partner with us as a client or associate, you will discover what it takes to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

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