Movers & Shakers Interview: Barry Shrosbree, Senior Manager: 1Life

Barry Shrosbree, a senior manager at 1Life, working in the distribution sales division, is this month’s Mover and Shaker.

Barry joined 1Life in 2008 in the direct contact centre division and assisted in setting up direct sales business units after which he was promoted to General Manager of direct sales. He has since moved across to distribution sales to oversee financial adviser sales in the Life and Wealth space as well as working on partnerships with external call centre partners. Barry has almost 20 years of experience in the financial services sales and distribution space.  We asked Barry for some insight into call centres and his role has manager.

1. How important is education?

It’s very important. I hold a BCom in financial management and am working toward attaining my Chartered Financial Analyst charter. I do this because I believe one has to put in an ongoing effort to keep learning and enriching their knowledge base.

2. What do you think are the most significant lessons you’ve learned about managing, and particularly managing change and adapting?

Definitely to listen in order to understand different perspectives, and to provide solutions or possible considerations. It’s also important to engage and seek input from your stakeholders. Make people part of the journey where practically possible, because this makes it easier to get buy-in and encourages the willingness to adapt to the change.

3. Even with the current economic downturn, there are often silver linings in these crises. What are some of the opportunities you saw throughout this crisis for 1Life?

I’ve seen more consumers becoming aware of the need for insurance. In fact, perhaps even more aware now than before. Also, the growth in digital, in the context of social distancing has been an eye opener. Conducting business over the phone is increasingly the preferred method of interaction. This has led to a growth trajectory in the call centre space. At 1Life we are now offering external call centre partners the opportunity to get involved in our business, through the sale of funeral and life insurance. This enables these partner call centres to grow and diversify their income, which in these times is invaluable. We have had significant interest in this proposition and are open to engage with future partners.

4. If you had to isolate a lesson – a key lesson – that you’ve learned as a manager, what would it be and how did you learn it?

There are many, but if I were to isolate one of the many important ones, it’s finding creative ways to retain staff and keep them engaged long enough to add value to themselves, the business and the customer.

Contact centres, particularly sales environments, are synonymous with having high turnover. In your business planning, you assume a certain production level which means a “newbie” has to take time to get to the optimal level. Then, we often find, just as they get there or even before, you lose folks along the way. This isn’t conducive to a stable environment, and has a ripple effect to your bottom line and a knock-on impact to high performers.

My advice is to use realistic baseline assumptions. This doesn’t mean accept mediocrity though. If possible, create a path for your staff to embark on a career journey with realistic and attainable milestones, so they see progress.  

5. Do you have advice for start-up contact centres to grow their business?

For sales contact centres, my advice would be to partner with good quality data providers, reputable product suppliers such as 1Life and hire people who are aligned to your company culture, vision and aspirations.

Get to know and understand the working parts of your business intricately. The “devil is in the detail” – being able to identify an indicator that is out of alignment quickly can enable the fast resolution of a problem, before it becomes too big to turn around.

Finally, don’t compromise on quality, it will come back to bite you. The bigger the complicity with unsavoury practices or compromise, the worse the bite and often with devastating impact.

6. What are the basic foundations in building a world-class contact centre in your mind?

Good data and stable systems are paramount. You need to have the right people on board and then create a conducive environment for them to thrive. Finally, of course, you need a good product or valuable service offering.