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Communications Direct

Origins

The two directors - Marc Winchester and Matt Burge - had been friends for a number of years when they both realised, around the time when Hutchison announced that they had a deliverable product that essentially provided broadband connectivity to a mobile handset, that a whole new era of mobile communications was on its way and that the implications were enormous. The preview of the capabilities of 3G demonstrating incredible features that provide the necessary technology to enable the convergence of voice, data and the internet within a phone were, at this time, a remarkable advance in new technology. Therefore, it was on the M4 motorway, during a journey back to Cardiff after a meeting in London that Marc and Matt decided that this new technology was so exciting and had so much potential, it had to take off and they needed to find a way to sell it to the UK (and possibly beyond!!). So the two got to work and formulated a business plan deciding that a contact centre was the most effective way to bring this technology to the public. As the technology was so new, both understood that this would be an educational process as well as a selling method and a contact centre was the best way to deliver both. The company in June 2003 and spent three months developing the business plan and trying to convince both the network and a distributor to take on a couple of guys (in a brand new company with no assets or staff or systems or anything!!) Both were totally convinced that they had a product that would sell and through sheer perseverance and, after three months of endless meetings, CDL started trading in September 2003 with just the two directors on the phone. Since start-up three years ago, CDL has gone from strength to strength but has faced many day-to-day hurdles. At the very beginning, typical of any start-up business, it had little money, no retail experience, no technical experience and no financial backing. However, once the business start-up was underway in Autumn 2003, the next challenge was to select the right team of people to work with the firm. The contact centre industry is well-known for its high staff turnover so CDL does many things to ensure that its staff is looked after. For example, it offers better basic salaries (paying on average 40% more than competitors), a fantastic bonus rewards/prizes as incentives, and a range of staff benefits including free gym membership, free BUPA healthcare, relaxing massage sessions, limited shifts, and employee benefit schemes. As a result, the business has an admirable retention rate and many new employees are referrals from existing staff. Nearly all of the management team have been promoted from within the company and the directors are very committed to them sharing in the success of the business.

Success Factor

There are three key factors that have contributed to rapid growth over the last three years. The first is the unique product offered to customers. By concentrating on a 3G market over the last 2-3 years when other network providers were offering customers 2G handsets, CDL has offered a wide choice of multi-media features to its customers such as video/ music downloads from the internet and transmission of videos/photographs - in addition to competitive tariff pricing negotiated and approved by the network providers. CDL is recognised by network provider 3 as one of the leading direct sellers of their 3G handsets, and was the first independent company in direct selling to market their 3G offering effectively and competitively within the UK. CDL is also world pioneer in the development of a predictive dialling software and hardware solution that incorporates MAMD (mobile phone answer machine detection) and links directly into our own Visual Campaign Builder (VCB). This new technology has increased productivity by at least 50% and CDL aims to roll-out this software across new outbound contact centre sites and continue investment into new technology. In addition, the firm’s own in-house IT team has developed a software suite bespoke to CDL called "Virtual Campaign Builder" which enables sales teams to run multiple campaigns at the same time, to deliver the necessary supporting campaign information to agents on-line at the appropriate team, to collect all necessary data and consolidate into our database systems. It has provided enormous flexibility and enables CDL to react, change and improve processes in an instant. Finally, increasing staff performance and motivation has been key to the business. CDL has Business Improvement Meetings every fortnight to review staff suggestions and reward any one that contributes to an improvement idea. The company has KPI reports on every aspect of performance and rewards team members on positive results. The result is massive employment growth and a dynamic atmosphere that never fails to impress our visitors. CDL genuinely believes that its people are its most important asset and this is a message that the directors want everyone to be very clear about. In addition, staff also benefit from bespoke in-house training programmes focused on an individual’s skills and personal development needs identified from their induction training, on-the-job assessments and annual appraisals. In just three years, CDL has grown from selling 40 phones in its first month to selling a phone every 40 seconds of the working day today.

The Future

CDL has a number of key objectives for the future. These include developing an online presence as the business, despite being one of the largest resellers of mobile phones in the UK, does not have a trading website. The business is also looking for diversification through cross selling, as it has a database of 500,000 customers that have bought a mobile phone, has plans to open a fourth contact centre to handle all inbound call activity, and may diversify into general contact centre outsourcing as it has the systems, processes and technology to be market leader in this sector and is looking to tender for future contracts as appropriate in the near future. As well as investing in state of the art technology, CDL is also creating an amazing new head office that will be state of the art technically, environmentally and in terms of employee interaction. The project is scheduled for completion this month endorsing the firm’s commitment to providing the best working environment for its staff. Another exciting development is a new incubator programme, which involves investing time, resources, systems, finances and technology into start up businesses which are related to its core industry. Finally, CDL is focused on achieving a turnover of £100 million in 2008.