Actors land RSVP call centre a part in London Stock Exchange ‘select’ list

PUBLISHED: 18:22 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:48 01 March 2016

Acting the part... answering callers' queries [photos: Peter Tweedie]

Acting the part... answering callers' queries [photos: Peter Tweedie]

Peter Tweedie

Your call “really is important to us” the actors manning the switchboard tell callers—and that’s not a recording, but live.

A corner of the RSVP call centre at the Northern & Shell Tower on the Isle of DogsA corner of the RSVP call centre at the Northern & Shell Tower on the Isle of Dogs

It has earned their call centre next to Canary Wharf a place in the London Stock Exchange list of “1,000 companies to inspire Britain”.

The RSVP centre on the Isle of Dogs has been recognised as a fast-growing small-to-medium business.

It doesn’t put callers ‘on hold’ with a recorded “your call is important to us” message.

Instead, callers go straight through to professional actors who know the patter off by heart and talk to them off the cuff.

It's not telly... but answering calls at RSVP centre keeps the lines openIt's not telly... but answering calls at RSVP centre keeps the lines open

It’s a secret formular that has boosted business by 125 per cent each year.

Now the centre has had to expand to two extra floors in the Northern & Shell tower at Crossharbour for another 240 actors and actresses to answer calls for 60 client companies. A further 100 positions are being added later this year.

“It’s a surprise to be told the London Stock Exchange has put us on its ‘inspiration’ list,” RSVP managing director Mark Abernethy said.“We have been a well-kept secret, nurturing talented people and keeping their dreams alive.

“Many of our staff stay with us year after year, between engagements, which is unusual in this industry where some call centres have a 100 per cent turnover every year.”

Playing up to the role... but taking a break from calls at RSVP centrePlaying up to the role... but taking a break from calls at RSVP centre

Companies like RSVP have to show consistent growth over a minimum four years while outperforming rivals in their industry to make it onto the Stock Exchange select list.

Stock Exchange Group chief executive Xavier Rolet said: “Ambition alone isn’t enough—their success and growth must be supported with appropriate finance.”

The company puts its secret down to recruiting only professionals from the West End stage who are trained with the patter who can put callers at ease.

The training means the actors don’t read from a straight-laced script, but have memorised it and ‘perform’ and adlib down the line.

The call centre bosses themselves are all ex-actors who started off manning the phones when they found themselves “resting” from stage work.

Should a suitable audition be spotted, the actors email their CV and, if shortlisted, can quit their call desks without having to lob in a month’s notice—and that’s without putting callers on ‘hold’.

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