CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 19, 2018
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2min751

The 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards will bring the cream of British CX talent back to London’s Wembley Arena this autumn, and potential entrants are being encouraged to take advantage of the Early Bird Offer to save businesses an amazing £100.

The awards will feature finalists competing in 22 categories, with presentations taking place before judging panels on the morning of October 11, before the winners are announced during a black tie gala dinner in the evening.

Categories open for entry include Best Small and Large Contact Centre; Best Hospitality, Leisure and Travel; and Best Customer Experience Training.

The final deadline for entries is June 8, with the shortlisted finalists being announced on June 22.

However, entries secured before midnight on Friday April 27 will save £100 off the standard entry price. Big savings can also be made for companies keen to enter additional categories when the order is made at the same time.

Those who apply for the Early Bird Offer by the April 27 deadline will still have until June 8 to submit their final entry forms.

For more information on categories and entering, visit the official 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards website.


Helen PettiferHelen PettiferMarch 14, 2018
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5min824

The 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards took place in London in February, and as a Customer Service Trainer, I was honoured to be invited to join the panel of judges.

Our panel was given responsibility for judging the Proactive Complaint Handling in the Utility Industry category. Five companies had been shortlisted and each one provided us with a written report and presentation. The aim was to highlight their approaches to both reduce complaints, and effectively manage complaints when they were received.

Investing in positive change

In truth, all of the nominated companies had been driven into action by the costs associated with poor complaint handling in the past.

OfWat (The Water Services Regulation Authority) governs the utilities industry and their objective is to build customer confidence in water and waste water services. As such, OfWat issues fines every time a customer makes a formal complaint and if the complaint isn’t resolved within 10 days, the fine increases.

With the cost of fines impacting on profits, the five finalist companies had recognised the value of investing in positive change.

As a judge, I wanted to see evidence of the companies stretching beyond the standards set by OfWat. In order to be praised for proactive complaint handling, I was looking for changes to the company culture and initiatives that were clearly rooted in delivering customer service excellence.

Complaint handling champions

It was fascinating to see the different approaches to tackling the problem and presenting the information. The judging panel learnt all about ‘training igloos’, recruitment campaigns, and processes to enhance efficiency.

All measures had clearly made a tangible difference to internal complaint handling procedures, but one company’s approach really stood out. United Utilities was presented with the Proactive Complaints Handling Award, and the decision was unanimous.

United Utilities

Serving 7 million customers in the north-west of England, United Utilities had been on the receiving end of too many complaints and they were taking too long to resolve them. There were no systems in place to learn from customer feedback, so many problems kept reoccurred. The company had earned a poor reputation and staff morale was low. They realised it was time for radical change.

What impressed me was that, rather than simply bolting on additional resources, the company involved the whole team in developing ideas to transform performance. They addressed their response to complaints and how to use customer feedback to inform change. In addition, they had adopted innovative ideas to reduce the number of complaints that are reported.

Speaking with customers

One noticeable point was the benefits of speaking directly with customers. Emails and letters have their place, but a telephone conversation on the day that the complaint was received has proved far more effective. A conversation helps to quickly clarify, and in some cases resolve, the issue.

Another strategy was to use a company bus and covered stands to have an active presence in the towns they were serving. This approach made the company far more approachable. Its impact has been especially beneficial when a burst main or other issue has had an impact on multiple customers. They’ve been there in person to provide information, updates, and practical support.

Reputation restored

Being party to the presentations, I took great delight from the fact that these companies had worked hard to restore their reputation and regain customers’ trust. The starting point was admitting the problem and having the motivation to take action.

Any business should openly seek the opinion of customers and not just those who they know will deliver a glowing report. Complaints may be hard to take, but it is better to know when you aren’t meeting customer expectations, because it gives you the opportunity to improve.

The awards provided evidence that any company can become successful, if they focus on delivering a truly customer orientated service.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 9, 2018
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9min572

The finalists for the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards have been revealed, with a huge list of some of Britain’s best-known businesses competing across 20 categories.

The finals will be hosted by Awards International at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank hotel on May 17, with support from awards partners Benefex, FDM, Cranfield School of Management, Customer Experience Magazine, and event sponsors Barnardo’s.

Shortlisted among this year’s crop of finalists (listed below) are brands including Sky, Brewdog, Vodafone, and River Island, to name but a few, and all entrants will present to judges on the morning of the event, before scoring occurs and category winners announced during a gala lunch.

Along with the category winners, an Overall Best Employee Engagement title, and Overall Winner will be named.

Meanwhile, the judging line-up continues to grow ahead of the finals, and among the names scrutinising and scoring this year are the CEO of Intrapreneur International, Gareth Bullen; the Managing Director of Monkeypuzzle, Karen Meager; and Co-Founder and CEO of The Happiness Index, Tony Latter.

Speaking as this year’s finalists were revealed, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said:

“The standard of entries this year have been nothting short of fantastic, so a huge congratulations to all of our shortlisted finalists. This is shaping up to be the most significant UK Employee Experience Awards to date, and we are thrilled to be hosting the gala event in our new venue in the beating heart of London.
Employee Experience is now at the forefront of business plans UK-wide, so these awards are more significant now than at any time previously. Good luck to all of those who have secured their place in the finals and bring on the summer for a day to remember.”

 

 

DISCIPLINE SPECIFIC
Category Finalist
Diversity & Inclusion
  • Sky
  • Let’s Get Healthy
  • Impact
Employee Engagement – Recognition & Wellbeing
  • University of Lincoln
  • Arrow XL
  • EDAM Group
  • Sky
  • Staysure
Employee Engagement – Growth by Design
  • drp
  • Spindogs
  • Startle
  • Brewdog
Employee Engagement – Values & Strategy
  • IGNIS
  • Bidfood
  • Bridge Training & Events
  • The Holly Private Hospital
  • Vodafone Group Services
Employee Engagement – Transforming through EX
  • We Are Habit & Jubilee Street Practice
  • Childbase Partnership
  • Homeserve
  • Sparks Grove & Three
Employee Engagement – EX Design
  • Hologic
  • Impact
  • Manpower Group
  • Pelican Business Services
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
Health & Wellbeing
  • Leon
  • Risual
  • The Specialist Works
  • DJS (UK) Limited
  • Let’s Get Healthy
  • Lifeworks
  • Pelican Business Services
Insight & Feedback
  • Sparks Grove & The FCA
  • Well Pharmacy & ORC
  • BT Business & Blue Sky
  • Childbase Partnership
  • Hologic
  • EDAM Group
Learning & Development
  • EDAM Group
  • DPD
  • drp
  • Marketing VF
  • River Island
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • BT Business & Blue Sky
Reward & Recognition
  • Belron UK Ltd
  • Stockport Homes Group
  • University of Lincoln
  • drp
  • The Holly Private Hospital
  • NIIT Technologies
Talent Management
  • Holly Private Hospital
  • Sparks Grove & McDonald’s
  • River Island
  • Belron UK Ltd
FUTURE EMPLOYMENT
Business Transformation and Managing Change
  • Pelican Business Services
  • HomeServe
  • Vodafone Group Services
  • Bridge Training & Events
  • NIIT Technologies
  • Hologic
Innovation in Recruitment
  • Global M
  • Marketing VF
Organisational Development
  • DPD
  • Sky
  • BT Business & Blue Sky
SME
  • Holly Private Hospital
  • drp
  • eValue
  • ArrowXL
  • DJS (UK) Limited
Technology for Productivity
  • Vodafone Group Services
  • drp
  • Lifeworks
  • University of Lincoln
LEADERSHIP IN EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
Agency of the Year
  • ORC
  • Hologic
  • Spindog
  • Global M
  • Bridge Training & Events
  • Manpower Group
  • DRP Group
Leader in Employee Experience
  • EValue
  • HomeServe
  • Manpower Group
  • Marketing VF
Team of the Year
  • Marketing VF
  • Sky
  • Spark Energy & BIG Partnership
  • Water2Business
  • James and James Fulfilment
  • Bidfood
  • River Island
Thought Leader in Employee Experience
  • Rebecca Robinson, Sparks Grove
  • Hologic
  • Leon
  • Dale Smith, Bridge Training & Events

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 9, 2018
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3min368

User experience experts Usability247 have been named as partners for the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards, which are returning to London this summer.

The firm helps businesses implement effective digital user experience initiatives for big name clients including Telefonica (O2) and Dixons Carphone Group, and will help hosts Awards International put on the biggest UK Digital Experience Awards to date.

The finals event is taking place on July 12 at the Wembley Hilton, and entries are now open for organisations from across the UK to enter. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to give a presentation before an expert panel of judges in the morning, before their entries are scored and the winners announced during a gala afternoon luncheon ceremony.

Finalists will compete in 23 categories, including Best Use of AR or VR, Utilities, and Not for Profit & Charity. New categories this year include Best Restaurant, Take Away & Delivery and Publishing.

Joining the ever-growing judges’ line-up for 2018 are Gordon Rimmer, Director of Marketing at Connect Managed Services; Kate Thompson, Founder and Managing Director of Business 3.0; and the Founder and CEO of Usability247 himself, Paul Blunden. Paul has also been appointed Chairman of this year’s UK Digital Experience Awards.

He said:

“Usability247 is delighted to be partnering with the DXA on the 2018 awards. Recognising best practice is important and encourages other organisations to improve the digital experience they deliver to their customers. Together with the opportunities the UK Digital Experience Awards creates to learn about emerging trends, they are a leader in driving improvements in digital experience everywhere.”

Welcoming the firm back for another successful year, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said:

“It is fantastic that UX experts Usability247 will be partnering with the UK Digital Experience Awards in 2018. The awards celebrate and recognise the inspiring ways organisations use digital applications to drive their customer experience forward, and we are delighted that Usability247 is as passionate as we are about supporting best practice in this area. I look forward to working with them in rewarding digital excellence and innovation.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 28, 2018
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3min507

BT’s Business and Public Sector Complaints team has picked up one of the top honour at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

They won the coveted Team of the Year award at the gala event, which was held at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank hotel.

Judges bestowed the title after a thorough presentation from the BT delegates on how major internal changes on dealing with customer dissatisfaction occurred following a review in 2016.

The team collected feedback from customers on how to make improvements, and following their implementation BT B&PS has seen their net promotor score rise by 46 points, and complaint resolution times drop by over 50 percent.

The effects are not just being felt by customers, as employee satisfaction has also risen by 17 percent.

Speaking of how the process was carried out, a BT B&PS spokesperson said:

“We listened to calls and we listened to our customers, asking them directly how we could make their experience better. We listened and we changed.

 They told us they wanted us to: take ownership of problems provide a speedy fix and they wanted us to care. We completed extensive analysis on complaint drivers and we worked with a company called Blue Sky to conduct a comprehensive diagnostic of the business. We looked at our top performers to develop nine key advisors’ skills, which were pulled together in a blueprint, so we could share what good looked like to improve performance across the estate.

Any transformation for customers requires investment and belief in our people. We left no stone unturned and have totally transformed our ways of working to exceed our customer needs by introducing a leader led solution and empowering our workforce.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 28, 2018
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2min526

Accountancy software firm Sage, in partnership with Trustpilot, have been named winners in the Utilising Customer Reviews category of the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

The B2B company told judges of their customer reviews process, in which every customer who leaves a negative Trustpilot Trustscore review is contacted directly within 24 hours, and arrangements made to resolve the issue.

Sage beat off competition in this category from Lanes Group and WoolOvers in partnership with Feefo.

Speaking of the process and its success, a Sage spokesperson said:

“The vision was to provide customers with the means to convey authentic feedback with one team at Sage that would handle all reviews feedback across various Sage products, with a single process for handling reviews.

The Sage Trustpilot customer reviews programme has seen Sage establish an industry-leading approach to collecting, managing and using insight from its customer reviews. The company’s Trustpilot TrustScore has increased to 9.7/10, one of the highest of any brand using the Trustpilot platform.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 28, 2018
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3min350

Uniting complaints teams from across their various departments has led to huge improvements for United Utilities, whose achievement has been celebrated at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

The UK’s largest listed water company, United Utilities was unhappy with how complaints were handled and the length of time it took on average to deal with problems highlighted by customers.

In 2016 the firm founded its Service Recovery Team, whose aim was to transform the complaint handling process to ensure problems were dealt with in a much faster timeframe – as well as deal with issues before they caused customers to complain.

Instead of four separate teams dealing with complaints, the Service Recovery Team brought them together as one body before introducing a new set of visible key performance indicators and targets, to be reviewed daily.

Further coaching was offered to help team staff deal with challenging customers, and the firm even set a budget for the purchase of cards, flowers, and chocolates for when apologies to customers is an appropriate response.

Meanwhile, the proactive identifying of problems through recording initial customer calls and calling them back to offer help has reduced overall complaints.

Texting of customers when incidents arise is another new practise that prompted judges to award United Utilities Gold in the Pro-active Complaint Handling – Utilities category. Silver in the category was awarded to South West Water.

Following this achievement, United Utilities was then awarded the title of Team of the Year – Utilities, Housing &Trains.

A United Utilities spokesperson said:

“Recognising where we have done a great job for the customer is important for team morale and motivation. Team managers are encouraged to provide treats, such as a bottle of wine when an individual agent gets a thank you from a customer. Thank you letters have now become part of our daily post and our teams have been sent vouchers and chocolates by happy customers.”

Speaking of the new moniker for the group dedicated to warding off complaints, the spokesperson added:

“The name says it all – we are no longer complaint handlers but are proud to be empowered to do the right thing and recover the service and trust of our customers. The name gives the team a sense of pride and their results speak for themselves.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 28, 2018
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3min316

Identifying problems with customer complaints and allowing improved communication through digital means such as a mobile app has led to major success for train firm CrossCountry at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

The company, which operates the UK’s longest direct rail line service from Aberdeen to Cornwall, entered this year’s awards by outlining the results of sweeping changes that followed a customer relations review which identified huge problems for the operator.

Average response times for complaints were double the targets suggested by regulators, with an average response for delay claims standing at 146 days.

In response to the highlighted issues, CrossCountry launched its Customer Relations Transformation Project. A focus was placed on digital means of better dealing with customer concerns, and a dedicated social media team was established, which has since grown from two to nine staff, and which are able to deal with customer complaints much faster than through traditional methods.

Improvements were made to CrossCountry’s mobile app to push customers towards the social media team and away from the website route of complaining.

Meanwhile, the digital revamp allows for improved data collection, which can highlight problems before they become a major issue for the firm. This success led to UK Complaint Handling Award judges naming CrossCounty as Gold winners in the Best Digital category.

Explaining the difference the project made to the business, and how they are now even inspiring rivals, a CrossCountry spokesperson said:

“Our scores were so compelling that the regulator (the ORR) made an unprecedented visit to CrossCountry, in order to discover how we achieved such positive results. Their findings are forming part of a best practice document that will be used to encourage and guide other operators.

The improved quality is also evidenced by the 94% reduction in the number of appeals from 122 in 2013 to only seven in 2017, which is the lowest level within the industry. The high quality of complaint handling delivered is further evidenced by a host of positive complainant testimonials.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 27, 2018
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3min421

A project by Midlands utility firm Severn Trent Water to reduce complaints has caused a big splash at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

The company told judges at the recent event in London about their Customer Journey Improvement initiative, which has led to a dramatic fall in complaints and has reinvigorated the delivery of Customer Experience (CX) for the eight million or so users who rely on Severn Trent’s services.

Judges were told of the importance of quality CX for the firm, as it is regulated by the Consumer Council for Water, meaning they are in direct competition with 17 other water companies.

Severn Trent’s target was to reduce complaints by 20 percent, and by last October they had beat that target with a reduction figure of 34 percent.

A company spokesperson explained:

“This project focused on complaint volume from our retail leg of the company, which include billing, metering and credit management complaints. Another major attention area was to improve our service incentive mechanism (SIM) score – a review completed quarterly by the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) to measure our customer service via customer engagement. Therefore, direct engagement with our customers and their resultant feedback has formed an integral driver for this project. 

This project has led to a new communicative structure that involves all stakeholders that have an input to the improvement of customer journey. To enable effective engagement and collaboration between stakeholders, we have a monthly customer experience CoP, two complaint loop cells a month, monthly team meetings, and weekly team communication cells and buzz meetings.”

The impressive presentation led to judges awarding Severn Trent the Gold award in the Best Utilities category, in which they were up against Lanes Group, Thames Water, United Utilities, South West Water, and Welsh Water .

United Utilities were awarded the Silver prize in this hotly-contested category.




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