The pursuit of excellence has always been the hallmark of a successful business, but today as never before that policy of best practice is focused on retaining and building a company's key asset: its customers. Since 1996, Management Today and Unisys have sought out the organisations that excel at customer service - companies whose innovations and energies win new customers while retaining existing business, keeping them all satisfied and doing it better than their rivals. These are the ones recognised by the Management Today/Unisys Service Excellence Awards, open to both public and private organisations operating in the UK. Service excellence is quantifiable and the finalists have been judged against five criteria: understanding customers; enabling people; operational excellence; leadership, vision and values; and organisational agility. The 17 finalists were selected according to a questionnaire and written submissions. A team of judges then visited their sites, talked to employees and customers, and sampled their products and services as anonymous shoppers. In June a panel of previous winners, consultants and represent-atives of Unisys and Management Today met to decide the winners.
An awards ceremony lunch took place at Claridge's on 2 September. Adair Turner of the CBI, Iain Davidson of Unisys and Rufus Olins, editor of MT, made the presentations. Finalists past and present are invited to tell their tale and benchmark against other finalists at a three-day Service Excellence seminar to be held at Unisys International Management Centre, St Paul-de-Vence, France on 10-12 November 1999. All enquiries relating to the 2000 Service Excellence Awards should be addressed to Tony Locke, Unisys Customer Service Centre, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0YS. Tel: 01908 212613 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.