Conversation With Alex McConville -Yopa Properties

Join us as we delve into Alex’s journey, where he shares his insights on the future of customer service and the pivotal role of human interaction in an increasingly digital world.

Leader spotlight- Alex McConville

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In our conversation with Alex McConville, the Head of Contact Center at Yopa, we gain valuable insights into his journey from a frontline agent to leading one of the top real estate brokerages in the UK.

Alex shares his experiences of driving Yopa’s growth, emphasizing the importance of optimizing every aspect of the customer journey, from SEO strategies to personalized IVR messages.

One of Alex’s key strategies for success lies in his approach to coaching and development.

He leads daily group coaching sessions, leveraging speech analytics to provide data-driven feedback to agents, ensuring consistency and continual improvement.

Despite the challenges of balancing coaching with operational demands, Alex views it as a long-term investment in the team’s performance.

Looking ahead, Alex believes in the enduring importance of human connections in customer service, even as technology advances.

His dedication to improving the contact center industry shines through in his passion for showcasing the positive impact of effective coaching and technology integration.

I. Spoonful of insights

Alex provides an overview of Yopa’s journey as a national estate agency, emphasizing their unique blend of traditional customer service, network leverage, and advanced technology.

Over the past eight years, Yopa has transitioned from a modest position to one of the top ten largest estate agents in the UK, driven by their commitment to innovation and customer-centric approach.

Alex McConville

Q1 :  To start, could you provide us with an overview of Yopa, a glimpse into your role, Alex, and the unique approach Yopa takes in the real estate industry?

“Absolutely, Yopa is an innovative national estate agency that combines traditional customer service with advanced technology.

As for me, I head the contact center operations at Yopa.

Our primary focus is to optimize customer interactions by leveraging both human expertise and cutting-edge technology.

At Yopa, we pride ourselves on providing personalized service through a network of local agents supported by a central call center.

Our claim to fame lies in our ability to blend the best of both worlds: the human touch of a local agency with the efficiency and reach of a national network, all powered by innovative technology.”

II. Passion and purpose

In this segment, Alex shares his journey from a frontline agent to a leader in the contact center industry.

He discusses his passion for the industry, his experiences, and his mission to change the negative perception of contact centers through his LinkedIn series, “Diary of a Contact Center Manager.

Diary of a Contact Center Manager

Q2: What inspired you to start the “Diary of a Contact Center Manager” posts on LinkedIn, and what are you trying to achieve with them?

“The Diary of a Contact Center Manager is my passion project. I have a deep love for the industry, having started as a frontline agent myself.

Through these posts, I aim to showcase the good work we do in the industry and push the boundaries in customer experience and technology.

My goal is to change the negative perception of contact centers and highlight their role as technology leaders.”

Q3: Can you tell us about your career journey in the contact center industry?

“I started as a frontline agent, selling gas and electric and helping customers.

Over the years, I’ve held various positions such as dialer manager, team leader, operations manager, and now head of the contact center. I’ve always loved speaking to customers and working in call centers.”

III. Driving growth and efficiency

In this segment, Alex discusses his pivotal role in Yopa’s significant growth, emphasizing the collaborative nature of his work with his team in managing the contact center. 

Q4: What has been your role in Yopa’s impressive growth within the organization?

“Well, it’s been a team effort, but specifically, I run the call center along with my colleague Jeevan Sangra.

We manage all the contact center agents and ensure that customer requests for viewings and valuations are handled quickly.

We’re known for our speed and efficiency, aiming to contact customers within 60 seconds of their inquiry.

Also, we use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology to customize interactions based on customers’ previous experiences with us. This personalization boosts client satisfaction and streamlines processes.

However, while technology plays a crucial role, the human element remains vital in delivering exceptional service.”

Q5:  How has the working environment at Yopa changed in the past few years, especially with the impact of COVID-19?

“The working environment has changed significantly. We have a core contact center office, but many departments have transitioned to remote work.

Our agents, from the south to the north of England, have been working virtually for over a year now, which has allowed us to adapt and continue providing excellent service despite the challenges of the pandemic.”

IV. From top 50 to top 10

In this conversation, Alex attributes this success to optimizing every aspect of the customer journey, from initial contact to post-sale support.

Alex highlights the importance of leveraging technology, local community engagement, and a customer-first mindset to achieve high performance and exceptional customer satisfaction.

Q6: What has been Yopa’s secret to achieving high performance and rising from the top 50 to the top 10 estate agencies in the UK?

“Our success comes from optimizing every part of the customer journey.

We focus on how customers find out about Yopa through SEO and local network initiatives, such as working with schools and communities.

We also ensure that our customer interactions are seamless, whether through web chat, email, WhatsApp, or phone calls.

By leveraging technology like our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, we tailor our services based on where customers are in their journey with Yopa.

This personalized approach, combined with a customer-first mindset, has helped us deliver a great experience, which is reflected in our Trustpilot reviews.”

Yopa from Top 50 to Top 10

V. Balancing people, processes, & technology

In this discussion, Alex emphasizes the crucial balance between technology and the human element in achieving call center success. 

Q7: Where does technology fit into the success of a call center, and can it alone ensure success?

“Yeah, so everyone, including myself in the past, is always searching for that stat, that golden bullet.

What is the piece of technology that will magically fix my call center operation?

What piece of technology do I need to buy or plug in that will double or triple my revenue?”

“Everyone’s on the lookout for this. However, in my years of experience, while technology certainly plays a role, human beings are the more challenging aspect.

Ensuring that your agents are saying the right things to the right people for the right amount of time is crucial.

This boils down to culture, coaching, sales training, mentality, and rapport.

No matter how amazing the technology may be, if your agents are unproductive and you lack visibility on their logged-in times, it’s ineffective.”

I strongly believe in setting metrics and minimum thresholds rather than monitoring trivial details like agents’ toilet breaks.

Additionally, without providing connected calls and relevant data for your agents to work with, technology alone can’t solve contact center issues.

It should always start with getting your people right first, and then using technology to support them.”

Q8: Down to it, technology can be an enabler. But Alex, as you mentioned, focusing on people is easier said than done. How does Yopa tackle the challenge of optimizing human performance in your team?

“Absolutely, Tushar. It’s indeed the toughest part, dealing with people.

Technology offers quick solutions, but people require ongoing attention and development.

At Yopa, we emphasize regular, consistent, and effective sales coaching. We differentiate between training, which introduces new skills and tools, and coaching, which hones the everyday skills our agents use.

What sets us apart is our commitment to coaching all agents, not just those in need of improvement.

This approach mirrors the training regimen of top athletes – everyone benefits from continuous development.

It’s challenging, requiring daily and weekly consistency, but it’s essential for achieving sustained performance improvements in our contact center operations.”

VI. Fun fact: Yopa’s work culture

Yopa maintains a hybrid work culture, with some departments based in Leicester while others operate remotely. This approach allows flexibility while retaining a central hub for team gatherings.

Q9: Are you 100% remote or is it a hybrid work culture?

Alex quoted, “Depending on the department, we maintain a base in Leicester, which serves as our central office for national operations.

While some teams work remotely, we emphasize in-person meetings and interactions, leveraging the benefits of both physical and virtual work environments to support our diverse workforce needs.”

Remote work culture

Q10: What’s the love with Leicester, Alex? Why not London?

Alex mentioned, “Our co-founders originally chose Leicester, specifically Hinckley, due to its central location in the UK, facilitating easy access for our nationwide operations.

While we value in-person interactions and maintain a base in Leicester for that purpose, many roles, including estate agents and contact center agents, operate effectively without physical offices, supporting our hybrid work model.”

VII. Insights into coaching & performance

In this conversation, Tushar explores Yopa’s coaching strategies with Alex, focusing on their group coaching sessions and the impact on team performance and culture.

Yopa- largest state agency in UK

Q11: Alex, you mentioned group coaching sessions in one of your LinkedIn posts. How crucial are these for achieving high performance?

“Group coaching sessions are integral to our approach at Yopa.

They bring our team together regularly to review and improve call interactions.

Each session involves listening to recent customer calls, providing feedback, and learning from each other’s techniques.

This collective approach fosters a culture of continuous improvement among our agents.”

Q12: How do you manage the time and effort required for these coaching sessions, especially in a remote work setup?

“We call them calibration sessions, and they’re vital despite the time commitment.

While individual coaching remains essential, these group sessions leverage collective insights and streamline feedback.

Agents submit their calls, and together we evaluate and enhance our customer interactions.

It’s an investment in refining our team’s skills and maintaining high standards over time.

Enthu.AI’s speech analytics allows us to program coaching moments and visually track performance metrics.

This technology aids in efficiently monitoring and improving agent interactions, saving valuable time.

Alex McConville on Enthu.AI

Q13: Alex, you mentioned balancing coaching time against operational needs. How do you justify this investment in coaching to stakeholders concerned about productivity?

“It’s a common concern, but I view coaching not as lost time but as an investment.

While it may seem to detract from direct sales activities, improving call quality over time boosts overall conversion rates.

It’s about finding the right balance where coaching enhances performance without unduly impacting operational metrics.

This approach ensures sustained improvement and customer satisfaction in the long run.”

Q14: Finally, Alex, what are your thoughts on the future of phone calls in customer service?

“Despite advances in AI and automation, human interaction remains essential in customer service.

I believe there’ll be an increase in AI handling routine inquiries, but complex and empathetic interactions will always require human touch.

Voice communication will continue to play a significant role, evolving rather than declining in importance.”

IX. Reflections on consistency & human element

Tushar and Alex discuss the importance of consistency and managing the human element in contact center operations, highlighting key insights and personal reflections.

Q16:  Alex, you mentioned the importance of consistency in your approach. Could you elaborate on why consistency is crucial in coaching and culture?

“Consistency is often underrated but crucial, said Alex.”

“Whether in coaching or cultivating a positive culture, doing the right things consistently yields long-term results.

It’s easy to be distracted by new trends, but sticking to proven methods consistently is what drives sustained improvement.”

Q17: What’s the most challenging aspect of your role, Alex, and how do you cope with it?

“Dealing with people is the most stressful part of my job. People bring complexities and challenges, but they are also the heart of what we do.

To unwind, I find satisfaction in implementing new strategies and technologies that improve our operations and help our agents perform better. It’s a constant journey of improvement.”

Q18: How do you view the balance between mundane tasks and innovative approaches in your work?

“The mundane, consistent tasks often yield the best results over time.

They might not be flashy, but they form the backbone of effective operations.

Balancing these with innovative approaches is crucial. Innovation keeps us competitive, but it’s grounded in the foundation of consistency.”

Q19: Summarizing our discussion, what are the key takeaways you’d like to share?

“Two main takeaways: Firstly, embrace the “boring” consistent tasks—they deliver results. Secondly, managing the human element is paramount in contact centers.

How you nurture and guide your team directly impacts performance and customer satisfaction.”

Q20: Thank you, Alex, for your insights today. Any final thoughts or advice for those in the contact center industry?

Focus on your people and maintain consistency in your approach.

Invest in their development and well-being, and they will drive success for your organization.

It’s about balancing operational efficiency with human-centric leadership.

Listen what Alex McConville has to say about Enthu.AI in detail-

X. Unlock Contact Center Excellence with Enthu.AI 

Ever wondered how you can revolutionize your contact center without sacrificing valuable time?.

Whether you’re navigating growth like Alex at Yopa or aiming for seamless customer interactions, Enthu.AI delivers actionable insights to drive success.

Embrace Enthu.AI and watch your operations soar to new heights.

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About the Author

Tushar Jain

Tushar Jain is the co-founder and CEO at Enthu.AI. Tushar brings more than 15 years of leadership experience across contact center & sales function, including 5 years of experience building contact center specific SaaS solutions.

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