SHORTLISTED COMPANIES IN THE FIVE INDUSTRY CATEGORIES
Business to Business
- Countrywide Porter Novelli
- Nichols Foods
- Zeneca Pharma UK
- Triple 'A' Animal Hotel and Care Centre
- Camelot - Player Services Division
- Pizza Hut UK
- Cendant UK Membership Services
- Co-operative Bank
- First Direct
- Lloyds TSB Group Lloyds - TSB Retail Banking
Manufacturing and Engineering
- Matra BAe Dynamics - Customer Supply Services
- HBG Kyle Stewart - HBG Construction
- GEC-Marconi Radar and Defence Systems, Radar Systems Division - Customer Services Business Group
- Angus College
- BRETS - London Borough of Ealing's Technical Services Department
- London Borough of Bromley - Environmental Health and Trading Standards (EH&TS)
A further rise in the standard of entries this year meant that the line separating the shortlisted finalists from winners often proved very narrow indeed. The battle for supremacy in the financial services category was especially hard fought. The creativity and commitment of employees at Cendant UK Membership Services (formerly Credit Card Sentinel) struck the judges who noted the organisation-wide enthusiasm for Cendant's customer-focused vision and values. The importance of employees in the customer-satisfaction equation was amply recognised by The Co-operative Bank where a comprehensive staff induction system, thoughtful recruitment process and impressive training programme aim to ensure a consistent customer experience throughout the organisation.
Strong employee commitment to service excellence was particularly noticeable among public sector finalists. Given their limited financial resources, staff at both the Scottish further education institution, Angus College, and BRETS (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brown and Root which carries out a wide range of environmental, property and engineering services in the London Borough of Ealing) displayed remarkable initiative and commitment in their pursuit of delighted customers. Both organisations provided ample evidence of their ability to deal with exceptional customer demands and of unprompted employee acts which customers found both unexpected and praiseworthy.
The ability to deal with exceptional customer demands requires the existence of robust operational processes and procedures. And here, Camelot - Player Services Division, the UK lottery organiser, excels. The judging panel were particularly impressed by the maturity of Camelot's operating systems despite the relative youth of the organisation. For example, it takes less than a minute to search 30 million records to identify a lottery jackpot winner and all winners are identified within 10 minutes of a draw. And, for the record, lottery tickets which have undergone the rigours of a washing machine or the jaws of a family pet can still be validated. Not surprisingly, 95% of Camelot's customers consider themselves either satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive.
The drive continuously to improve operational processes were evident at both Matra BAe Dynamics and the construction firm, HBG Kyle Stewart.
The judging panel were impressed by the latter's use of sophisticated service techniques - rare in a sector with a notoriously poor reputation for customer care. The adoption of similarly sophisticated techniques to measure customer service and satisfaction levels by Countrywide Porter Novelli, the public relations firm, also caught the collective judging eye. In a sector more renowned for spin than statistics, the judging panel commended this organisation's drive for objective and measurable service standards.
Unisys, a world leader in information management, believes that customer service is a key source of competitive advantage. The Management Today/Unisys Awards provide a focus for organisations wishing to excel in customer care and an impetus for higher service standards. Unisys supports a range of events to help organisations exchange customer service ideas and is currently building a database of best practice.