CCMA Awards - The Blizzard Entertainment experience
Paul McSherry from Blizzard Entertainment talks about their experience with the CCMA awards
The only way to know how far you've progressed as an organization is to test that progress against your peers. That's how we felt at Blizzard Entertainment when we first decided to enter the Contact Centre and Shared Services awards in 2012. At Blizzard, we are proud of what we do. We make big, grand, immersive computer games and in our Cork office we provide customer support for these computer games. We take particular pride in how we support and interact with our players, or our community and our support is very well regarded among this community. Our support centre located in north Cork city has only been operating since 2008, and the customer service department of Blizzard was only set up in 2004!
When we first decided to enter the CCMA awards, we thought long and hard about what our motivation was. Initially we decided we should use it as a way of recognizing high performing staff. We had some moderate success in our first two years, achieving one Team Leader commendation and then picking up the Team Leader of the Year gong in 2013. This gave us some confidence. We started to realise that we should be testing all corners of our support against our industry peers. We needed to go for the big awards and learn in the process. Our submissions were becoming about more than just recognition €“ they were actually a great way to test how we were performing against our well-established industry peers. This quickly led to the situation in mid-summer 2014 where I was looking at eight potential submissions and wondering how I was ever going to be able to complete such an amount of work before the deadline in early September!
I decided that we had to have three pillars on which we built any Blizzard submission in any category. Firstly, I wanted to try to create nominations €“ let alone the awards €“ that our nominees would be proud to bring home to show their family. Something they'll wave and show in their next job interview. Secondly, we wanted to be sure that any submission could be held up to the rest of our organization and used as an example of what best practice looks like. The third pillar was that our submissions should be memorable and fun €“ like our games. For the 2014 awards, we started early, around May, and went through a process to identify which categories we'd be targeting. We drew up a shortlist of candidates for the individual awards and asked others to nominate themselves. We targeted some of the bigger awards, such as Centre of the Year, and aimed to give them our best shot and learn from the experience. By deadline day in early September, we had eight completed submissions in six categories;
- Two agents of the year
- Two teams of the year
- Team leader of the year
- Support team of the year (our Workforce and Planning Team)
- Training programme of the year
- Centre of the year
Building your submission
Anyone who has completed even one submission for the CCMA awards knows how much work is involved. For the Agent, Team Leader and Team of the Year awards, I sat with the individuals and team management in a series of meetings to discuss each question intricately. I effectively interviewed them to try and get those gold nuggets that might get us extra marks. For the Training Programme and Support Team awards, it was a similar arrangement €“ a number of meetings where we refined our answers, ensuring we maximised the number of marks we could get in each category. For the Centre of the Year award, we pulled together a working group of senior staff who took responsibility for sections, before pulling them together into the final piece. We try to build a narrative into each of the submissions; to tell a story through visual aids, theme and the text itself. Our logic is that this will make the submission more memorable. For last year's awards this meant building a number of different, unique templates which were fun and stood out.
Once we turned in our eight submissions, we were able to step back and be proud of the work we'd completed. For those nominated, it was reward for their hard work, and flattery to have their story written so large. For those agents involved in pulling together submissions, it was good experience and an interesting diversion from their normal work. When we discovered we had been shortlisted for all eight submissions, it was breath-taking. It was a very powerful message to our organization; we need to be proud of the work we do because it is good. To go on and win three awards on the night, and take home a commendation too, was beyond our wildest dreams, and a personal highlight for me. I felt very proud to be part of a team who had managed to achieve such success. And I felt even more proud to work for an organization which is regarded so well by our industry peers. Our success was a big thing for Blizzard Entertainment. Our senior executives in California were effusive in their praise, and it was a moment when our entire business could be proud of our customer support department. Over the years, Blizzard has been heaped with games industry awards. These CCMA gongs where the first awards that Blizzard had ever won for something other than the games themselves. This still fills me and the CS teams with pride today. And now it's 2015. We plan to follow the same approach as last year; to carefully identify which categories we'll enter, before working collaboratively to build creative, immersive, fun submissions that will make the nominees proud, and act as a beacon to others to achieve success like them. Of course, if our peers vote for us to win an award or two along the way, then that would be the cherry on top!