Guest blog: The Call Centre

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I am at home, writes Terry Drake, sitting down with a cup of tea, just about to watch ‘The Apprentice’ when the phone rings. It’s a call for Mister Wiltshire about insurance and bank loans, and how they can get my money back.

Photo terry drake
Terry Drake

As my name is Drake and I have been never sold bank loan insurance, I am irritated. Two more calls and I am hacked off.

The next day my wife finds ‘The Call Centre’ on BBC3 and I moan “a reality show about a call centre – do we have to?”

We start watching and I begrudgingly (at first) enjoyed it. For those who have seen it, you will know about the extrovert characters at the centre based in Swansea.

They stand up while making cold calls, telling people about free loft insulation and how it will warm the house and save them money. Then we meet ‘the Boss’ – Nev, who is loud and laughs a lot.

I think “he can’t be real – I bet he’s horrible to work for”. I cringe when I hear someone say “I am one of the top sellers”.

I listen to one young lady who is loud, focussed and articulate. She is successful and we learn more about her. She has a troubled past and has issues. But she has the right personality, outgoing, warm, friendly and concise.

However, because of her illness she had attendance issues and her work suffered. I think Nev is going to sack her, but he kept her working.

She still couldn’t make it into work so “she stops working for a while” – as Nev puts it. She decided to stop but could go back at anytime.

Oh God, I think “I like this Bloke Nev, Oh no”. He is smart, articulate and successful. He employs 700 staff, and his call centre is called “Saving Britain Money” – Genius. He employed a recovering drug addict, and a girl with ADHD.

Selection is based on personality – not education. Staff are trained, given transferable skills, and an income. Business is all about knowing your strengths, and Nev knows his and what type of staff he needs.

We moan about cold callers, but if we compare Bankers, Politicians, Police, Lobbyists, and some Corporates to the financial and social value that Nev and his business brings to the people of Swansea, then he and his company are OK as far as I am concerned.

About the author:

Strategic sales expert, Terry Drake, is a business mentor for graduates working in business development roles through the Unlocking Potential programme.