You know what it’s like, staring in disbelief at the TV, calling the contestant an idiot because they don’t know the answer! Of course, in the warm and cosy surroundings of our armchair, we usually answer in an instant, but under pressure, we don’t always behave in such a logical manner. Who wants to be in the shoes of the contestant being pressed for an answer that won’t come, knowing millions of gazing eyes are waiting, and waiting and waiting….I’m glad it’s someone else and not me!

My train journey into London for the UK Customer Experience Awards was filled with thoughts of excitement and trepidation in equal measure. As Chair of the judging panel in my category, I felt a weight of responsibility for the day that lay ahead. Speaking to other judges on arrival, their opinions were unanimous. The finalists this year had entered the highest standard of submissions ever, so decision making would be more difficult as a result!

It was then that I thought, whose shoes would I rather be in, the shoes of a finalist, or those of a judge? I felt a strong sense of responsibility as our decisions would please one team but disappoint all the others. I thought back to my preparation when I carefully read the finalist’s submissions in my category several times over. I wanted to ensure I was fully prepared with any questions I had and all had been given equal time and thought with their submissions.

The importance of adhering strictly to this process was very important to us as judges. Although the finalists wouldn’t be aware of the pressures viewed from the perspective of a judge, as a matter of personal integrity and to do justice to the efforts made by all of all the finalists, I felt it was the responsibility of us all to carry out our duties to the very best of our ability.

It is not a cliché to say that when people achieve these high standards and deliver such great results, there really are no losers. Every finalist really is a winner, and all the finalists, in all of the categories, should be proud of the part they played in making the awards such a memorable, record breaking event.

Putting myself in the shoes of the finalists, I tried as best I could, to understand what they were going through as they put the finishing touches to their presentations and gathered their thoughts on how they would share their journey with us. Looking back now, would I have preferred to have been a finalist or a judge? Well, I’d like to leave you with the thought that it is always easy to criticise and point the finger, until it is you who is on stage or in the firing line to make the decision.

I would encourage everyone to view things from both sides before passing judgement. Think through the views from the perspective of a finalist, then from the standpoint of a judge. Imagine what it would be like to stand in each other’s shoes and make that call. After all, isn’t that one of the things we preach on a daily basis?

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