Founder and Chairman of Awards International, Don Hales, knows a thing or two about Customer Experience!

Ok, allow us to rephrase that… he knows all there is to know on the subject, being one of the UK’s most prominent CX professionals with a long history of studying the science of keeping customers happy.

Not afraid to speak his mind, Don offers his thoughts on who’s hot in CX right now… and who’s most definitely not.

So beware if your high-profile firm is falling behind on its CX duties… The Don is watching!


My first Heroes in this new series of my popular column are Jamie Scales and Jack Bell, who are betting shop workers at Betfred in Diss, Norfolk.

Yes, I know that some readers frown on betting shops and worry about the addiction that can result.

Mostly however, high street betting is about people who like a cheeky flutter to add some interest in their daily lives and, over the years, I have collected many stories of customer-orientated staff who have added-value to the lives of customers and their community.

In this case, Jamie and Jack noticed the few-days absence of a customer, 72-year-old Michael Base, who habitually placed a twice-daily £1 wager.

They grew worried about the absence of the elderly client and after a few days they went to his home and knocked at his door.

On getting no answer, they peered through the letterbox and saw the tartan bag he always carried. Guessing he was in and, perhaps in danger, they called the police who broke in and found Michael in a diabetic coma – that had lasted four days!

Thanks to the actions of Jamie and Jack, Mr Base’s life was saved and he will be able to resume his love of following horse-racing.

This is a remarkable story of customer care. Mr Base, is hardly a “high net-worth customer” likely to be worth tens of thousands of pounds in “lifetime customer value”, but he was a regular customer and the staff showed a real interest and friendship.

These types of actions will attract and retain hundreds of loyal customers and many businesses can be built on such principals.


My first Villain is not new to this feature: Ryanair.

Some time ago, they made an announcement to the effect that they were going to improve their dreadful Customer Experience reputation.

For a time, things did seem to improve but it seems they were merely saving up for one mighty and dreadful customer let-down that beats all their previous efforts.

I am referring, of course, to their announcement that it was cancelling flights for over 400,000 customers to apparently cover pilots’ holidays and to improve punctuality!

Enough has been written about this for me to add anything new to the facts, but whatever the justification given, once again the airline has shown total disregard for their customers (as well as dreadful management, planning, and staff relations).

The total inconvenience, nuisance and costs (not all of which can be recovered) cannot be calculated. Missed appointments, opportunities, celebrations, weddings, births, and holidays cannot be replaced.

I doubt if there will be a contender for Worst Customer Experience of the Year than Ryanair…but, then again, who knows?

As always, I need your stories to fuel this column. Please send me your thoughts on who you think are Heroes, and who you believe should be cast as the Villains, at

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