It's that time again. The short list is in for the 1999 Service Excellence Awards. Whittling down the hundreds of entries to just 17 finalists was not an easy task, and the judges have been all over the country, from Kent to Northern Ireland, to inspect sites, conduct employee interviews and test corporate claims by using 'mystery shoppers'. What particularly impressed them this year was the overall quality of the entrants. It seems that best practice, which five years ago was the preserve of the few, is now widespread. This rise in standards has been across the board, from companies with 20 employees to multinationals, and in areas ranging from defence systems to pet hotels. Now the finalists can only wait until 2 September when the winners will be announced over lunch at Claridge's.
BUSINESS TO BUSINESS
Countrywide Porter Novelli - public relations consultancy, Banbury, Oxon.
Fleet Support Group Ltd - vehicle management services, Chippenham, Wilts.
Sun Microsystems Ltd, Enterprise Services - IT services and support provider, Camberley, Surrey.
Camelot Group plc - National Lottery operators, Watford.
Pizza Hut (UK) Ltd - restaurant chain, Borehamwood, Herts.
The Co-operative Bank, Personal Customer Operations - banking services, Manchester.
Halifax plc, Retail Network - banking services, Halifax.
Virgin Direct, Personal Financial Service Ltd - financial services, Norwich.
West Bromwich Building Society - mutual building society, West Bromwich.
Alenia Marconi Systems Ltd, Operations Division Portsmouth - defence and electronics manufacturer, Portsmouth.
John Pring & Son Ltd - wire drawers specialists, Sanbach, Cheshire.
London Borough of Bromley, Environmental Health and Trading Standards - public health services, Bromley, Kent.
Foxdenton School and Integrated Nursery - primary school for pupils with special needs, Oldham, Lancs.
Riverside Housing Association, Riverside Cheshire Division - housing association, Runcorn, Cheshire.
Happy Computers - computer training company, London.
Hugh J O'Boyle Training Ltd - training organisation, Northern Ireland.
Triple 'A' Animal Hotel & Care Centre - animal boarding centre, near Washington, Tyne and Wear.