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SA player wins at global contact centre awards

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Mithum Singh, GM: operational support at Merchants, has won the Best Workforce Planning Award at the 2016 11th annual ContactCentreWorld Top Ranking Performers Awards in Las Vegas. The awards are a culmination of local and regional awards programmes after which the global winners are selected.
Singh’s journey started a year ago when he won both the local BPeSA and CCMG awards for workforce planning. He then represented South Africa at the EMEA awards, clenching the Best Workforce Planning Award for the region. “Winning the EMEA award in itself was very overwhelming,” says Singh. “Getting this recognition at a global level has completely blown me away.”
Workforce planning is a vital role within the contact centre environment. It involves volume and resource requirement forecasts and covers a lot of the supply and demand elements within the contact centre. “There is a massive shortage of workforce planning professionals in South Africa,” he says. “You can’t get a university certificate, diploma or degree in workforce planning, which means there are only a handful of specialised professionals working in this area of the contact centre.
“Winning this global award is proof that South African talent should not be taken for granted,” Singh adds. “It allows me to push individuals within my team or area of influence a bit further to pursue their ambitions, because if I can do it, they can too. It’s a question of taking the opportunity if it presents itself and running with it.”
Singh has differentiated himself in workforce planning by moving beyond forecasts and schedules, and incorporating external elements in his planning methodology. “I include political and economic landscape factors into my planning. So, I factor in the rand-dollar exchange rate, the impact of inter-country conflicts and changes in commodity prices as these could all impact the customer’s disposable impact and ultimately the client’s business. In doing that, you can develop far more accurate predictions and plans by using valuable analytics and giving the business a proactive view of what is likely to transpire.”
Jennifer Algie, people director at Merchants, comments: “We are exceptionally proud of what Mithum has achieved over this past year. Merchants has seen incredible success in the various awards programmes that have run over the past year, but Mithum’s achievement at a global level proves shows the impact the organisation has in the contact centre industry as a whole.”
Singh says he is looking at how to best use winning this global award to the benefit of Merchants as an organisation as well as the industry. “If I can now use this to create another five, ten, fifteen or even a hundred jobs, then I have achieved something big. Yes, being recognised globally is a massive achievement, but the award is just an accolade for work that’s already been done.
“I believe an even bigger prize would be creating employment in this specific area within the sector. We already know that there is a shortage of skills in this area of specialisation, but if this could spark a university or another institution to put together a certification for this, then again that’s another achievement.”