UK: PROGRESS ON THE EXCELLENCE ROAD - BEST PRACTICE AWARDS.

UK: PROGRESS ON THE EXCELLENCE ROAD - BEST PRACTICE AWARDS. - Entries have flooded in and the short list is ready for the Management Today/Arthur Andersen 1994 Best Practices Awards for Service Excellence.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Entries have flooded in and the short list is ready for the Management Today/Arthur Andersen 1994 Best Practices Awards for Service Excellence.

Organisations as diverse as schools and car-makers are currently chasing the title of Britain's best service excellence provider. More than 220 companies and institutions entered the Management Today/Arthur Andersen 1994 Best Practices Awards for Service Excellence, launched last October. Entries have now been whittled down to a short list of 44, and the eight regional category winners and two national awards of Best Service Excellence Company of the Year and Best Service Excellence Small Company will be announced in the June issue of this magazine.

Entrants are spread throughout the UK although the response from Northern Ireland was disappointing. London and the South East was best represented with 22% of entries, closely followed by Thames Valley and the South's 20%. The UK's further flung regions also responded to the challenge with 7% from Scotland and 11% in both the North East and the Wales/South West regions.

Competitors are also drawn from a wide range of size and sectors. In the North East the mighty Bass Brewers competes with Spennymoor School. It is a state-run comprehensive with 740 pupils between the ages of 11 and 18, and has undergone a revolution in its service provision since 1989, according to headmaster Brian Ogden. A four-year development plan aimed at improving the school's resource base has this year been followed by another four-year project of investment in people. Ogden believes the school has a wide range of customers: children, 68 staff, parents, local industry and the community. Measuring their satisfaction, he believes, is no easy task. 'We are trying to add value to children during their time with us and that's very hard to measure,' he admits. But indicators as diverse as examination results and parent satisfaction surveys are being used to track Spennymoor School's progress down the service excellence road.

Bass North, one of Bass Brewers' six regional companies, has more traditional industry performance indicators available to track the satisfaction of its 3,000 customers. Over the past 18 months all 750 employees of the Leeds-based company have attended two days of customer focus workshops - the origin, says sales operations manager John Polglass, of a 'heavyweight customer focus campaign designed to ensure the latter part of Bass's "great brands best service" slogan'.

Spennymoor School, Bass and the other 42 short-listed entrants were selected on the basis of a 20-page questionnaire which they completed. It was designed by Arthur Andersen to assess performance on four broad criteria of service excellence: corporate focus; market understanding; alignment of processes to maximise service delivery; and shared employee values focusing on the customer. Howard Barrett, leader of Arthur Andersen's customer satisfaction practice, admits that narrowing the field was a difficult task. What differentiated applications, however, was the greater information and qualitative comment provided by short-listed companies. These applications, he says, clearly revealed the extent to which 'best practice companies implement measures to an intensity well beyond even the imagination of other non best-practice companies'.

In the second stage of the judging process, a team of judges from Management Today and Arthur Andersen will carry out a more detailed assessment of service provision during site visits to short-listed entrants. A list of finalists will then be drawn up, and winners of the regional and national categories will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in May 1994.

This is one competition, however, when all entrants gain something for their trouble. All 226 companies receive a feedback report showing how they compare to world-class standards of service provision. Peter Moller, senior manager at Arthur Andersen, believes that this report, which allows companies from very different industries to compare approaches to customer service, adds great value to the competition: 'By comparing customer service practices across industry boundaries one can sometimes see how quantum leap improvements can be made, simply by applying a new perspective.' Ensuring excellence in customer satisfaction is becoming the hot topic of the '90s, says Barrett. However 'what delighted customers yesterday, is very much commonplace today', he adds.This year's finalists are already looking to elicit something akin to rapture.

AWARDS 1994 SHORT LIST

SCOTLAND

Aberdeen Marriott

Alcan Rolled Products UK

Cigna Services UK

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Kwik-Fit GB Ltd

NORTH EAST

Armstrong World Industries Ltd

Bass Brewers Ltd

Corning Consumer Ltd

Elmwood Sensors Ltd

Richardson Sheffield Ltd

Sage plc

Spennymoor School

NORTH WEST

Cannon Hygiene Ltd

De Vere Hotels Ltd

John Heath and Co Ltd

Lancaster House Hotel

Manweb plc

MIDLANDS

Birmingham Midshires Building Soc.

Forms UK plc

GPT Communication Systems Ltd

Woodbrook Vale High School

EAST ANGLIA

Amot Controls Ltd

Eastern Electricity plc

Hamilton Acorn Ltd

WALES AND SOUTH WEST

Crosby Sarek Ltd

NatWest Life Assurance

LONDON AND SOUTH EAST

Air UK

Bromley Central Library

David Lloyd Leisure plc

EuroDollar UK Ltd

London Electricity plc

Market and Opinion Research Int.

Mastercare

Private Patients Plan

Tek Translation International Ltd

Vauxhall Motors Ltd

THAMES VALLEY and SOUTH

The Automobile Association

CJ Fox and Sons Ltd

DHL International UK Ltd

Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre

Private Patients Plan

Rank Xerox Office Supplies

Toyota GB Ltd

Wadsworth Electronics Ltd.

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