Entries for the second annual Management Today/Unisys Service Excellence Awards have risen by 40% following the success of last year's competition, which was won by Birmingham Midshires Building Society. The awards, organised by Unisys, a world leader in information management, in association with Management Today, aim to identify and recognise those organisations operating in the UK which are industry leaders at serving customers.
On the shortlist for success
This year's quest to discover Britain's best service provider has attracted 182 entries from public and private organisations all over the country.
And, says Unisys's award co-ordinator Tony Locke, entries have improved both numerically and qualitatively since last year's event. A total of 17 organisations have now been shortlisted on the basis of a self-completed questionnaire designed to assess their performance against four broad criteria: understanding customers; operational excellence; enabling people; and leadership, vision and values.
These shortlisted finalists are divided between five industry categories: business to business; consumer services; financial services; manufacturing/engineering; and the public sector. Finalists also compete for two national awards: Service Excellence Company of the Year and Best Small Company (with a turnover of £25 million or less). In addition, a new award this year for the Most Improved Organisation will go to the organisation which has taken the most significant strides in service excellence compared to its 1996 entry.
'Shorlisting finalists was even more difficult than last year,' says Locke. 'The standard of award submissions was extremely impressive and organisations had clearly taken great pains to provide hard evidence to back up their service claims,' he continues. 'The questionnaire was more specific than last year, demanding quantitative answers to questions such as "What percentage of customers are repeat purchasers?" and "What percentage of employees have undertaken a 'service-related' training activity in the past 12 months?". Companies have told us that the process itself was an eye-opening opportunity for rigorous self-analysis.'
Indeed, one of Unisys's chief aims for these awards is that participating organisations will use them to identify their strengths and weaknesses and provide benchmarks and guidance to help them improve performance.
Last year's winners were invited to take part in a Service Excellence Conference in Nice during which winners shared best practice ideas. And, whether they are winners or not, all 182 entrants will benefit from a personalised feedback report. This document benchmarks the entrant's performance against other competitors and that of 80 companies whose details are held in the Unisys Customer Focus database and which are recognised worldwide for their dedication to customers and excellent service provision. These feedback reports will be issued to all but the shortlisted finalists in July.
The 17 shortlisted companies will receive site visits during May and June from a panel of judges including representatives of Management Today, Unisys, Cranfield School of Management, and organisations recognised for service excellence including last year's overall winner, Birmingham Midshires Building Society. These visits provide the opportunity for finalists to offer specific evidence of excellent service provision. Final judging will take place in July and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in the House of Commons on 30 September 1997.
THE 17 COMPANIES SHORTLISTED FOR THE FIVE INDUSTRY CATEGORIES
Business to Business
PR consultancy, London
PHH Vehicle Management Services plc
Vehicle management services, Swindon
TNT Express Delivery Services
Express delivery, transport and logistics company, Atherstone, Warwicks
TNT Express Worldwide (UK) Ltd
International express distribution services, Northampton
BT Mobile Communications - BT plc
Mobile communications services, Leeds
Riverside Housing Association - Riverside Cheshire Division
Housing association, Runcorn, Cheshire
Triple 'A' Animal Hotel and Care Centre
Animal boarding centre, Near Washington, Tyne and Wear
Credit Card Sentinel Ltd
Card protection and support services, Portsmouth, Hants
Personal banking services, Leeds
Halifax Building Society
Building society, Leeds
Lloyds/TSB Group plc
Retail banking, Bristol
Manufacturing and engineering
Customer Support Group - GEC Marconi-Avionics Ltd
Avionics support services, Edinburgh
Customer Supply Services - Matra BAe Dynamics (UK) Ltd
Defence equipment support services, Stevenage, Herts
Thomas Vale Construction Ltd
Building and civil contractor, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcs
Environmental Health and Trading Standards - London Borough of Bromley
Public health services, Bromley, Kent
Education services, Halesowen, West Midlands
Wirral Alcohol Service - Wirral and West Cheshire NHS Trust in partnership with Turning Point
Alcohol support/information services, Birkenhead, Merseyside.