Wherever you go in the business world, everybody at least nods in the direction of customer service. What makes the organisations featured in these pages special is that they have all sought to move beyond the talk to make it happen. As Brian Hadfield, managing director of Unisys, puts it: 'Everybody has read the books or seen the video. But the issue is, how do you generate a sustaining culture where employees feel they can make a difference?'
Unisys has made a step in this direction by setting out four guiding principles that help its employees in everything they do each day. But, like the organisations described here, it doesn't believe it has all the answers. Nor does it feel it ever will.
Customer service is continuously developing, so that what was acceptable just a few years ago will not do now. Increasingly, companies cannot differentiate through their products or services, yet even customer relationship management is not the issue. What is important is the customer relationship experience - and that requires a cultural change.
In keeping with this, the MT/Unisys Service Excellence Awards have been refined to make them more sophisticated and to reflect the fact that 'the bar is constantly being raised'.
But what remains constant is the idea of learning from experience and from others. Indeed, this desire to learn has been a key influence in Unisys's decision to continue its commitment to sponsor the awards.
'What we are striving for is a focus on the customer experience,' says Hadfield. 'When somebody has something, they want to share it. These are people who are genuinely proud of their achievements.'