UK CX Awards Winners – Interview with David Harrison, Head of Operational Excellence

Rob Dermott, Director of psd’s Customer Contact Practice, talks to David Harrison from Ageas UK about their Customer Experience journey, challenging Contact Centre norms and ensuring their people are at the heart of these changes – resulting in excellent customer outcomes and increases in Customer Experience.
Customer Experience Awards AGEAS UK

The UK Customer Experience Awards celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The awards are a great opportunity to see what organisations are doing in the many areas of Customer Experience (CX) and Innovation across technology, employee engagement, training, use of insight & feedback, whilst recognising CX experts and teams in their chosen fields.

This is the fifth year that psd’s Rob Dermott has joined the panel of judges, this time judging the ‘Best Contact Centre – Large’ category. This year’s winner of the category was Ageas UK, Bournemouth.

Why did Ageas decide to enter the UK CX Awards?

We entered the UK Customer Experience Awards for three reasons: to provide an aspirational target for the work we’ve been doing, to test our activity and results against competitors and, regardless of the outcome in the finals, recognise and celebrate the people that actually did the work and bring our teams closer together. It’s easy within your own business to see your performance and the things you are doing as ‘normal’.  Awards are a way of sharing your story for other companies and customers to see – demonstrating internally and externally that, against a range of peers, what you are doing stands up amongst the best out there.

What did the business do that had such a positive outcome on Customer Experience?

We transformed the way we operate in our contact centres in the UK – we call it The Ageas Way. Following extensive customer research we discovered our purpose was to ‘make insurance easy’ and we set out on a three year journey to test everything we were doing against this goal. We then used nine re-design principles to describe the future operating model for customer delivery and empowered everyone to contribute to that change. That lens led us to challenge and remove some high profile norms that were getting in the way, for example sales bonuses, quality monitoring and expert led improvement initiatives. Instead we created ways for everyone to focus on, and act upon our objective of making insurance easy.

How did you measure your success?

Predominantly by measuring how well we were achieving our purpose and what matters to customers. We implemented a real time Voice of the Customer Programme to give us new measures such as Net Ease Scores, First Contact Resolution rates and Net Promotor Scores. Internally we started to track our total demand as value demand and failure demand and overlay end to end times to show us how long it takes a customer to get what they need. We continued to track income and costs (both of which improved) but they were downgraded to lagging measure status as they’re an output of the way you deliver for customers. Similarly, we track employee engagement but improvements here come free when you design jobs in a way that makes people feel important and worthwhile. Better coffee and parking make some difference for a while but better jobs that are worth getting out of bed for can transform everything.

What part of the programme are you most proud of?

We changed people’s lives. We created jobs in which people can really make a difference and gave more certainty in their reward packages following the removal of bonuses. We no longer view work and home life as separate, they are intrinsically linked and we apply this to our thinking. People were joining us to serve customers but then we constrained them with set rules and processes, unintentionally discouraging great service; that’s an unfulfilling environment that can impact heavily on the way you perceive your own value.

What is the internal reaction to this achievement?

We are immensely proud of what we have achieved. Not a single external consultant was employed to help us with this work. We intuitively knew that we could progress from good to brilliant and by bringing together a range of motivation, change management and process improvement methodologies, The Ageas Way is a model that we will now grow throughout the rest of Ageas UK over the next few years.

How do you top this success?

We see the process as infinite and adaptable rather than fixed.  We adopted a growth mind-set to remain in the constant pursuit of better – so topping this success is in our DNA and personally I’m never satisfied with our performance. Supporting the wider Ageas business in the UK to optimise their resources and processes to increase income and lower costs will be another level of transformation that we are very much looking forward to.

Following on from this success, Ageas UK have won the ‘Most Effective Improvement Programme – Colleague’ at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards on 26th November 2019.

About the UK CX Awards

The annual event is held at Wembley Stadium and is a highlight in the CX Calendar. Longlisting for each category takes place several months leading up to the event, as entries need to submit a written report to reach the shortlist.  From this point, judges score written submissions before each organisation delivers a presentation and Q&A session on the day.  The presentation formats were varied but all demonstrated exceptional outcomes combining people, process and technology to deliver CX innovation.

The Nominees

The nominees in the ‘Best Contact Centre – Large’ category were:

  • Ageas UK (1st place)
  • Webhelp and Sky – Falkirk Customer Experience Centre (2nd place)
  • EE (3rd place)
  • Anglian Water Services in collaboration with Cognizant
  • New Day
  • BT

This demonstrated a variety of businesses from different fields and geographical locations who delivered an exceptional range of services for their clients and customers alike – all with Customer Experience core to service delivery.


psd’s Rob Dermot commented “Judging for the ‘Best Contact Centre – Large’ was a real joy. There were some outstanding presentations given by accomplished CX experts and it was hotly contested with passion and impact.  There could be only one winner on the day and that was the team from Ageas UK, Bournemouth. Their presentation was exceptional and both David Harrison, Head of Operational Excellence and Liz Hicks, Head of Operations from Sales and Service, told a story of change and transformation that really delivered tangible results.”

To read more about the winners and finalists at the UK CX Awards 2019, click here.


David Harrison Customer Experience Ageas UK

David Harrison MCIPD

Head of Operational Excellence, Ageas UK

David started his career in general insurance with HSBC in 1998 where his Human Resources career commenced including ten years leading the HR and Development teams for the Ageas partnerships business working with some of the UKs biggest brands including John Lewis, Tesco, Toyota and Age Co. For the last 3 years David has been responsible for the customer and culture transformation programme across Ageas UK’s Sales and Service functions which has been recognised with 7 business, culture and customer awards in the UK and Europe in the last 12 months.