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H & I's Contact Centres Lead the Way

14th March 2010

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is extending a pilot programme which is successfully developing the leadership skills of contact centre staff across the region.

Key employers like BT, with centres in Thurso, Alness and Fort William, Capgemini in Inverness and Nairn, TalkTalk in Stornoway, Intelenet UK in FortWilliam, HeroTSC in Aviemore, and Vertex in Dingwall and Forres have joined together with HIE to develop their team leaders.

The first year of the programme, which is running in collaboration with the industry's professional body the Customer Contact Association (CCA), is coming to an end and a new intake for 2010 is starting today in Inverness.

"We have 20 team leaders from the various contact centres completing the training and the next intake is supporting a further 24. The Highlands and Islands has an excellent reputation for providing high quality customer service and we are keen to help existing businesses build on their success, and encourage other operators to come here attracted by the specialised skills available," said Alison Wilson, head of financial and business services at HIE.

She added: "The industry already employs more than 3,000 people across the region, having grown steadily since the 1990s. There is an impressive range of blue chip companies and clients being serviced from Highland sites including Tesco, HSBC and Westminster City Council.

"The sector has a highly collaborative and forward-looking nature in this region. HIE is keen to support and develop it, promoting innovation, and helping companies to retain and win high quality work for the area."

CCA's head of membership services, Sharon Johnston added: "We have been working in partnership with HIE over the last year and are delighted with the impact this programme is having on the individuals involved. The fact that a second group of team leaders and first line managers are keen to take part supports the learning and development opportunities which are available via this programme. Working in a contact centre in today's economic climate is no mean feat and organisations need to tap into as much resource as possible to help support and motivate colleagues who are on the front-line."

Linked to the team leader development programme is the need expressed by the sector for higher level, strategic management development and HIE has also recently supported Kathleen Lohse, customer service manager from Vertex in Dingwall to take part in the acclaimed Enterprise Development Programme at MIT in Boston, along with other key business participants from across the Highlands and Islands and wider Scotland.