But what do these awards really signify and why do they matter? If you ask organisations why they participate, they usually come up with the same answer: to find out how well they are doing. As Alwyn Welch, managing director of Unisys, puts it: 'The Service Excellence Awards provide a focal point, an ambition for companies to strive to achieve.
It is an opportunity for benchmarking against other organisations in other fields, so it helps people achieve the level of service they really aspire to reach.'
There's a tendency to regard outstanding customer service as a 'nice to have' rather than a core asset. But for many of the companies that have won these awards, it is the significant element that can distinguish them from their competitors. Says Welch: 'Clients, whether internal or external, are becoming more and more demanding, and expectations are rising inexorably. Competition and commoditisation demand all the differentiation an organisation can get.'