For the last two years I have had the privilege of judging on behalf of PC-1 at a variety of Awards Events in Customer Experience for Awards International. The Awards I judge have both a written element and a presentation balanced 50:50 for the scores. The marking system is robust and covers questions across 7 key criteria – so what makes an award winning entry for me?

Firstly, address the category requirements!

I judged a category recently for Digital CX – Innovation the next level. I have no doubt the right winner won with real innovation and clear delivery on the promises they made. Others were less fortunate and one financial services company didn’t win in this category for their mobile phone app. To be honest the real innovation wasn’t coming through and innovation as a mobile app for banking was a while ago – right? But they did win the best mobile app category, probably justly deserved but it makes the point, multiple entries are good but you must first be sure you really are addressing the category requirements. New version II in this case didn’t mean innovative.

Be concise and to the point in your written submissions.

Whilst we do try and give more than adequate time for reviewing the written submissions and the preparing for the presentations on the day, it has to be said the more concise you are in your submissions the better. That isn’t to say that we are a superficial lot but the written word should be to the point.

Stick to the word count – we do look at this – and don’t bury hundreds of graphs and charts and stats in PowerPoint slides to avoid the word count but do use relevant measures and statistics to back up your claims and fundamentally answer the exam question.

Don’t be shy about your ROI.

We are looking for clear ROI, how has the cost base been reduced, what revenue growth has been achieved, what is the lifetime value of a client and have you improved retention, we are looking for the real business value ROI.

All too often I have to read through submissions where I have to hunt down the answers I am looking for, maybe marketing have crafted the words (I am a marketer by trade) and not the people who know the detail in operations and do give practical examples.

If you are shy of giving confidential information away don’t be (if you are, run a closed session and don’t be afraid, we all sign non-disclosure agreements and won’t sell your secrets).

Let’s take a question where I often see poor results. “Effective Implementation – The implementation of the solution and what made it effective, including customer engagement as appropriate and the management of time and budget”. I often get answers to the solution and customer engagement but detail is often lacking on what made it effective and how they managed the time and budget. Often the effective, time and budget pieces are not addressed, if you are over budget there may be a good reason for it and if you still get an ROI that makes sense we will not be marking you down.

To get high marks you have to answer all the questions not just the bits you think you excelled in.

Show some emotions

It is really good if you can get an emotional connection especially with Customer Experience Awards. Show connections with your customers, how they have responded to your initiatives and also how your employees have been impacted. Are they engaged, motivated, empowered and excelling? Which brings us nicely to the presentations where you can build an emotional connection.

Practice for the main show

Much of the comments above apply, but a few pointers you might find useful are: most importantly stick to time – if you have 15 minutes stick to it and practice the timing before the day as with the tech! I still see presentations with sound and video failure and believe me we want it to work for you. We don’t mark you down for it – but it uses valuable time and often flusters you as a presenter.

Answer the questions, I have seen people number and title around the questions to good effect, but remember we are not judging the glitz of your PowerPoint slides. It’s all about the content.

Also avoid the cheesy marketing promotions you might get persuaded to build in from your supplier/sponsor – we did have a person dress up in a giant cuddly suit from one supplier who jumped into the middle of a presentation (yes they did know about it) and it bore no relevance to the judging – wasted time and yes you might like them as a supplier but it’s your turn to shine not theirs.

Finally, finish with a short summary of why you should be the winner but beware giving lots of packs out with tons of additional information at the end. Best of luck and keep on entering.

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