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By Jo Causon, CEO, The Institute of Customer Service

There’s not long left to enter the 2016 UK Customer Satisfaction Awards. The awards opened for entries in April 2015 and it didn’t take long for organisations to start downloading information, but why is it important to turn a download into an application.

Today, customer service excellence is taking on new significance as the economy recovers and customer needs continue to evolve. Entrants into our awards are making a firm statement that they believe that customer service is key to their strategy, and we have witnessed some high quality examples. Importantly, the UK Customer Satisfaction Awards are free to enter for all organisations who wishes to put themselves forward.

The only pre requisite is that all entrant businesses must be established for at least one year, and of course be able to display excellence in the category that they are entering. Entrants do not have to be members of the Institute.

Entering these awards guarantees your application will be seen by a unique panel of industry experts, business leaders and academics who will look at each entry and use in-depth scoring criteria to review your organisation against peers from all industries.

There are 13 categories you can enter and the following outlines that the judges will be looking for when reviewing applications.

Best Application of Technology Award recognises any organisation that has successfully applied technology as part of an overall strategy to improve its customer service and satisfaction offering. Technology used could be new, existing or applied in an innovative way to give competitive advantage. Judges seek evidence of the solution that the technology has provided and how the integration of the technology was measured as successful.

2015 Winner, Openreach

Best Return on Customer Service Investment Award is aimed at organisations that have made an investment in customer service and which have realised a quantifiable return on that investment. Investment could be in process re-design, strategy, training, human resource, hardware or software. Judges will look for evidence of measurable return applied specifically to the activity which the investment enabled. Judges also recognise secondary benefits (other than financial) where these were clearly indicated to be in direct relation to the investment.

2015 Winner, East Midlands Trains

Customer Commitment Award recognises any new or existing organisation that had differentiated itself through well-communicated customer commitment. Judges look for evidence of the execution of a customer oriented culture showing a consistent commitment to customer service excellence.

2015 winner, Northern Gas Networks

Customer Focus Award, Large Enterprise recognises any organisation with a turnover in excess of ÂŁ10m that has placed the customer at the centre of its operations and strategies. Entrants need to display a well communicated customer strategy and evidence of employee engagement in executing the strategy. Evidence is required of the extent to which the customer shaped the business and how this had improved overall results.

2015 winner, Skipton Building Society

Customer Focus Award, SME looks at organisations with a turnover below ÂŁ10m that has placed the customer at the centre of its operations and strategies. Entrants need to display a well communicated customer strategy and evidence of employee engagement in executing the strategy. Evidence is required of the extent to which the customer shaped the business and how this had improved overall results.

2015 winner, Learning Pool

Best Customer Satisfaction Strategy Award is designed for any organisation that has developed a strategy that has measurably improved its customer satisfaction rating. Entrants have to show a clear strategic plan designed to leave a legacy, after implementation, of a new relationship between the organisation and its customers. The judges look for evidence of improvement and an insight into the decision making process which led to the strategy being developed.

2015 winner, Homebase

Customer Service Strategic Leadership Award is the only award were entrants are nominated by their peers or colleagues. It is aimed at Chairmen, CEOs, Board Directors or Senior individuals who demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision in the field of customer strategy serving as an inspiration to others. Judges will be looking at evidence of vision, leadership, communication and successful outcomes from the deployment of developed strategies.

2015 winner, Jamie McDonald, Customer Experience Director, Carillion

Employee Engagement Strategy Award seek all organisations that had an Employee Engagement strategy that had led to an improvement in performance and customer satisfaction. Key indicators that judges look for are improved staff retention, reduced sick leave and the purpose behind the implementation of the strategy. Entrants need to display a cohesive engagement strategy, a comprehensive communication policy and a positive relationship between management and staff.

2015 winner, Intercity Telecom

Customer Feedback Strategy Award recognises any organisation that has a customer feedback strategy that has led to an improvement in customer satisfaction and performance. Key indicators that judges are looking for included how easy organisations make it for customers to provide them with feedback and how they closed the feedback loop. Entrants need to display a clear commitment to feedback and engaging their customers to help improve their service offering.

2015 winner, Direct Line Group

Quality Service Provider Award is considering any organisation that prides itself on the excellence of its customer service. Entrants needed to present an overview of how quality service was identified and how it was delivered within the organisation. Evidence of statistical support from customer satisfaction surveys and/or customer endorsements was sought after.

2015 winner, Northern Gas Networks

Customer Satisfaction Innovation Award looks for entrants who need to present new and fresh ideas that have the intention of improving satisfaction levels and a measurement system to support any improvements. This award recognises any organisation that has instigated a new and innovative way of improving its customer satisfaction ratings. Innovation can be a product, service, software or process which enhances the overall customer experience and that has definite business benefits.

2015 winner, LV=

Best use of Customer Insight Award entrants are required to submit information relating to strategy which drove the customer insight as well as the expected outcomes and the actual results of this use of customer insight. Judges were looking for a consistent approach to data collection together with evidence of new data analysis methods where appropriate. This award recognises any organisation that has successfully used customer insight in an innovative way to gain competitive advantage.

2015 winner, Hello Fresh

Best Customer Service Co-Creation/Collaboration Award recognises any organisation that has successfully engaged with a sector of its customer-base to research, analysed and brought to market a product or service in which co-creation or collaboration was used. Entrants were required to supply information relating to the strategic intent of the co-creation and/ or collaboration, the drivers behind the decision and the expected and actual outcomes. Judges were looking for a consistent communication strategy, a strategic market launch and evidence of a competitive advantage or customer solution.

2015 winner, Osborne Construction.

If you want to gain external and internal recognition of your organisation’s commitment to customer service, benchmark against some of the UK’s leading service organisations and make the most of the opportunity to motivate and engage your employees, be part of the only customer service awards run by the UK’s professional body for customer service.

Jo Causon

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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