Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 27, 2018


An overhaul of how complaints are dealt with has earned mobile provider Giffgaff a UK Complaint Handling Award along with the firm’s outsourced contact centre provider Firstsource.

The companies were finalists in the Best Personal Entertainment & Telecoms category, where they faced stiff competition from EE and BT Business and Public Sector Complaints.

In their presentation to judges at the gala awards event in London this month, Giffgaff and Firstsource delegates discussed a “game changing strategy” that transformed how the complaints team communicated with the wider frontline staff.

New techniques introduced included a two-way feedback system to help “nip complaints in the bud” before they were categorised as such.

A Giffgaff/Firstsource spokesperson said of the changes:

“It’s a best-practise approach that’s clearly worked. In a recent survey, 100 percent of frontline staff agreed that the complaint team is excellent at collaborating with hem, with this result inevitably contributing to the new record low that Giffgaff is now witnessing in its complaint volumes and Ombudsman referrals.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 27, 2018


Thomas Cook are used to taking customers on journeys to holiday destinations across the globe, so when the firm embarked on a “transformation journey to deliver a Centre of Excellence for complaint handling”, they knew exactly how to go about it.

That delivery has now won the travel giants a UK Complaint Handling Award, which they collected at the recent gala event in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank hotel.

The company entered the Best Hospitality/Leisure/Transport & Travel category and gave a presentation on how an average complaint handling time of 48 days, and low First Contact Resolution (FCR) and Customer Experience Scores of 35 percent, prompted an “end-to-end” overhaul in attitudes to complaint handling.

Over a period of 18 months, complaint handling was revamped within Thomas Cook, to the point where it is now “embedded in the DNA” of the firm.

A spokesperson explained:

“The entire function was transformed, ensuring customers are at the heart of decisions. We used customer and colleague feedback from focus groups to deliver a three-month programme of training with development of evidence and empowerment toolkits to support FCR and speedier resolution.”

The initiative has since led to FCR scores rising to 52 percent, and CX scores as high as 90 percent, while complaint resolution costs have been reduced by 15 percent.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 27, 2018


HSBC is one of the most reliable names in UK banking, and with two new UK Complaint Handling Awards in their trophy cabinet, the high street fixture is on its way to a very successful 2018.

The bank won Gold in the Best Finance and Insurance category at the gala event, which was held recently in London’s exclusive Park Plaza Riverbank.

Meanwhile, the bank’s Mortgages arm won in the Product & Service Improvement – Improving Customer Experience category, with Aegon UK emerging as Silver winners.

Judges enjoyed a detailed presentation from HSBC staff about the bank’s decision to unite complaint handlers in a new ‘Service Recover Team’ to “create a function focused on handing complaints with the best service for every unhappy customer and enabling the bank to use complaints and feedback to properly learn and fix problems so they don’t happen again”.

An HSBC spokesperson said of the initiative:

“In a short period of time we’ve seen massive improvements to the speed and quality of complaint handling, going from middle of the pack to the top of internal and external measures, with best in class outcomes from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Our new insight and root cause analytics has enabled HSBC to understand and fix long-standing problems. Our costs and resources have dropped with increased efficiency; and complaints ‘residual risk’ has been downgraded from very high, to high, and then to medium for the first time ever.”

Meanwhile, HSBC Mortgages staff told judges how before the new team was created in 2016, one-in-three people taking out a mortgage submitted a complaint. The firm was candid in how the process was failing customers.

A Mortgages spokesperson explained:

“We found that 73 percent of mortgage complaints arose in the application and processing of a new mortgage. Contextualising our complaints data with mortgage sales volumes led us to the true level of dissatisfaction and the realisation that our mortgage experience was incredibly poor. Customers were getting the right product in the end, but the journey was terrible and customers were routinely complaining that they felt ‘in the dark’ about what was happening.”

After working “relentlessly” through 2016 and 2017, mortgage complaints fell by 40 percent, amounting to 15,000 fewer complaints per year.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 26, 2018


It’s been another great start to the year for one of the stalwarts of British retail, The Co-Op, which won two titles at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

Following Co-Op Food winning the Dispute Resolution Professional title at the 2017 event, the firm was represented again at this year’s bash in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank venue, with successful entries in the Best Contact Centre and Product Service Improvement – Transforming Customer Care categories.

The story of how Head of Customer Services, Claire Carroll, took over two under-performing Co-Op call centres in 2015 and transformed them into a major success story has been well documented, and in 2016/17, this successful strategy was expanded to improve standards on a wider basis.

Among the initiatives that impressed judges in both categories this year this year was a bespoke programme of resilience training to help staff morale cope in the face of difficult conversations with customers, and the introduction of goodwill gestures for complainants who are Co-Op members.

As a result of this, 35 percent of non-member complainants joined as members as part of the resolution of their complaint.

A Co-Op spokesperson explained:

“Our approach has been joined up from the start, with a strategy that clearly calls out the value opportunity for insight and quantifies the benefits to the business of great customer service. As a result of relentlessly following these two opportunities, we have now positioned the contact centre as a strategic asset which helps retain thousands of valuable customers who are at risk and shapes the in-store offer to attract and retain millions more.”

Meanwhile, hot on the heels of Co-Op in both categories was double Silver winners CrossCountry.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 26, 2018


Virgin Money tell customers they are “building a better kind of bank”, and that claim has been given hefty clout thanks to an amazing day of recognition at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

The firm won a spectacular five awards at the event in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank hotel, including one of the most important plaudits of the day, Overall Best Team.

This award followed Virgin Money being named Gold winners in four categories: Best Banking and Investment, Most Improved Complaint Handling, Pro-active Complaint Handling, and Team – Financial Services.

In the Best Banking and Investment category, which saw Aegon UK clinch the Silver award, Virgin Money reps gave a thorough presentation to judges, outlining a complete overhaul of their complaint handling process.

They created a “seamless end-to-end customer journey” for complaints, along with a new complaint resolution framework that brings together functions from across the firm (from legal to IT) under an agreed set of targets.

Staff were also encouraged to use their discretion to “wow” customers. Training initiatives for staff helped deliver the hugely successful initiative, and a spokesperson said:

“This ambitious, far reaching transformation programme has not only transformed the complaints journey customer experience, but it has seen engagement across the team increase.

Consequently, we’re not only making customers love us (with record satisfaction scores) but are turning them into ‘lifelong friends’, with advocacy reaching its highest level to date and a double-digit growth in customers.”

This stone-cold commitment to transforming the entire complaint handling process also earned Virgin Money their Gold awards in the other categories, leaving CitySprint to collect the Silver award for Most Improved Complaint Handling, and Intelenet Global Services in both the Pro-active Complaint Handling and Team – Financial Services categories.


In the Overall Best Team category, Silver was awarded to United Utilities, while BT Business and Public Sector Complaints claimed Bronze.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 26, 2018


Financial services specialists NewDay claimed the Overall Winner title at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards thanks to a ground-breaking complaints model that was successfully adopted by staff and led to a whopping 20 percent reduction in handling times.

The ‘NewDay Way’ plan was outlined to judges in the Managing Your People category, and the success of the initiative led to the company being awarded the Gold title, while Silver was presented to BT Business and Public Sector Complaints.

NewDay’s project consists of five “core tools” to improve the complaint handling process. These are Standard Work (introducing standard ways of working); Visual Management (visuals driving changes to improve); Communication Cells (regular “huddles” celebrating success or voicing concerns); Creative Problem Solving (a structure for complaint resolution); and Work Place Audit (system checks to ensure the process is working).

Along with the reduction in complaint handling times, the NewDay Way led to a reduction of pipeline complaints to the lowest ever recorded post implementation, and a reduction of FOS referral rate to below the industry average.

A company spokesperson said of the initiative:

“Our drive to continually improve, together with the NewDay way of working positively impacted every customer and colleague interaction can only be described as an exceptional change in our culture that we are extremely proud of.

“Following our success story in complaints, the model has been introduced business wide as we strive to deliver on NewDay’s commitment to our customers.”

The Silver Winner in the Overall Winner category was Virgin Money, while United Utilities got the Bronze.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 23, 2018


One of the most significant events in the UK’s customer service calendar has taken place in London, with winners and runners-up celebrating success at the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

Hosted by Awards International at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank, the event, which returned to the capital for its second year, saw some of the best-known brands in Britain compete in over 20 categories relating to complaint handling, including Contact Centre, Delivery & Logistics, and Complaint Team of the Year.

Over 350 attendees descended on the venue, where teams presented before expert panels featuring almost 60 judges who work at the very heart of customer service culture for firms including Capita, RBS, and Barclay’s, to name but a few.

Following the morning’s presentations – many of which were open for other competitors and visitors to view – the judges consulted before scoring and deciding the Silver and Gold winners in each category, along with the day’s Overall Winner.

The victors were announced during a gala luncheon, with cheers and tears of joy on the menu for winners as months – and in some cases years – of detailed customer service strategy planning paid off with peer recognition.

Among the big winners of the day was the Virgin Money reps, who took home an amazing five awards, including Overall Best Team, and financial services firm NewDay, which was named Overall Winner after wowing judges in the Managing Your People category.

Speaking after the presentations, judge Mandy Holford, who is Director of Customer Services at Echo-U, said:

“The standard of entries was incredibly high, and the feedback I have received from fellow judges is the same – they were impressed across the board at what was presented today. Well done to all who entered, and special congratulations to the deserving winners.”

Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said afterwards:

“What a day it has been for the winners, and indeed all of the finalists at this, the second-ever UK Customer Experience Awards. We have been privileged to be among the cream of the UK customer service talent today, and the judges were absolutely blown away by the high standard of the presentations.

I would like to thank all of the judges and finalists who attended – and with it being a daytime event it was great to see so many representatives of the companies able to attend and share in the success. I would also like to offer a huge thanks to our awards partners Resolver, iCasework, Henley Business School, Customer Experience Magazine, and Barnardo’s for helping make this landmark event among the most important in the UK’s business calendar.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 20, 2018


The UK Customer Experience Awards has a new Chairman at the helm of the event for 2018: international CX expert Ian Golding.

The non-executive editor at CXM will aim to ensure the awards event, which is now open for entries, has a clearly articulated role in promoting CX best practise both in the UK and further afield.

Hosted by Awards International, the event will return to London’s Wembley Stadium on October 11, and will see finalists compete across a wide range of categories, including Best Financial Services, and Best Customer Experience Training. For a full list of categories, click here.

Ian leads the highly successful Customer Experience Masterclasses, and has judged at previous UK CX Awards. Speaking of his new role as Chairman, Ian said:

“Since I first entered the awards with my team in 2010, the annual celebration of achievement in the field of Customer Experience has become a firm fixture in my calendar. During the seven years I have been involved to date, the value I have got from participating as a finalist, winner, and judge is genuinely immeasurable.

The opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with peers from all industries; companies of all shapes and sizes; professionals from all over the UK; passionate people who believe in the same things as me; has played a part in developing my love for the profession that Customer Experience has become.

The awards are now one of the biggest gathering of CX case studies anywhere in the world, making them an unmissable opportunity to further develop knowledge, desire, and inspiration. The fact that many of the finalists presentation are ‘open’ – meaning anyone attending the awards can sit in and listen to them – means that attendees will be able to develop their CX specialism. Being asked to chair the awards is one of the most significant honours of my career to date – I eagerly look forward to welcoming all the finalists and judges to what promises to be the most spectacular awards ceremony ever.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 7, 2018


Online complaint tool Resolver has become a partner of the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards, which takes place later this month.

The daytime event, hosted by Awards International, is being held in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank hotel on Thursday February 22, and will see finalists from across the UK compete in 19 categories.

This year, the categories include Best Contact Centre, Most Improved Complaint Handling, and Best Banking & Investment. From these winners, an Overall Winner will be selected by the judges.

Finalists presenting at the event include household name brands keen to earn recognition for their efforts in the ever-more competitive field of complaint handling. These include Virgin Money, Thomas Cook, EE, Thames Water, Co-Op, and many more.

Presentations from the finalists will be judged via a robust and transparent process, with valuable feedback provided afterwards.

The judging panel features a host of industry experts, including Lauren Hutchinson, Director of Lemon Tree Business Consulting; David Lewis, Head of Customer Relations at Barclays; and Tracey Roberts, Business Development Director at Capita.

Joining Customer Experience Magazine in partnering the awards is Resolver, which since its conception in 2014 has grown to become the premier online complaint portal in the UK, offering a seamless complaints journey for over a million consumers, dealing with everything from flight delays to issues over private parking tickets.

Speaking about the exciting new partnership, Resolver CEO and Founder James Walker said:

“In the future, successful firms will be defined by how well they treat their customers. Increasingly, businesses across the spectrum are realising the importance of listening to what the people who use their services are saying and learning and evolving in response.
That’s why I’m thrilled to be working in partnership with Awards International to recognise these awesome businesses that are getting in right. And I’m looking forward to celebrating the winners of the future.”

Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said:

“We are delighted to welcome Resolver on board as our partner for the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards. As any one of the million-plus consumers who used Resolver to successfully lodge a complaint – either directly to a firm or through an ombudsman – will tell you, their service makes the entire process as quick as possible.
No longer are people being put off complaining because of a long, laborious process. Thanks to Resolver, the consumer is more powerful than they have ever been before, and the onus is now on businesses to prove they are able to handle complaints more effectively than ever before. These awards will celebrate those who are doing just that, and I would like to congratulate all those who have reached the finals.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 6, 2018


Worldwide digital marketing agency ThinkEngine has been announced as official partners of the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards.

ThinkEngine has offices in London and Dubai, and helps clients grow their digital marketing through services such as digital strategy, social media, pay-per-click, SEO, and email.

They join fellow partners Barnardo’s, Cranfield School of Management, and Customer Experience Magazine for the awards.

Hosted by Awards International, the event take place on July 12 in London at the Hilton Hotel, Wembley, and will see entrants compete across 23 categories, which include Leisure & Tourism, Fintech, and Best use of AR or VR.

Presentations will take place in the morning, with the winners revealed in a gala luncheon. From the winners of the 23 categories, an Overall Winner will be chosen and awarded for their unique commitment to Digital Experience.

The awards celebrate and recognise the best Customer Experience through digital means in the UK, and each entrant will present their case to a panel of expert judges. This year the judging panel includes Gordon Rimmer, Head of Solutions Marketing at Connect Managed Services; Abhishek Verma, Senior Digital Director at Infosys Ltd; and Paul Blunden, Founder and CEO of Usability 24/7.

In the coming weeks and months, many more judges will be revealed, who will scrutinise each entry before agreeing the winner of each category.

Speaking of their involvement with the awards, ThinkEngine Founder and Managing Director Ben Michaelis (pictured), said:

“We are delighted that Awards International have become one of our Global Partners. The UK Digital Experience Awards showcase innovation and excellence that businesses and organisations show to their customers and users.
The audience synergy between the UK Digital Experience Awards and ThinkEngine are very similar, and we see this as a long-term strategic partnership to benefit both brands. We are extremely excited to start working alongside the Awards International team. The UKDXAs are highly respected and entrants show a fierce level of competitiveness in their presentations, and we are looking forward to seeing the talent on display.”


Welcoming the new partners on board, CEO of Awards International, Neil Skehel, said:

“ThinkEngine are experts in the field of Digital Marketing, and it is fantastic to have them with us as partners to help make the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards the biggest and best to date.”

For more information on entering the awards, click here.

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