Thomas Fairbairn, Author at Awards International


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 21, 20201min40

The UK Complaint Handling Awards are fast approaching!

And today, we’re pleased to announce that global digital solutions provider Civica will be Gold Sponsor for the Awards.

They join Worksmart, Resolver and Huntswood in sponsoring the event, which will be held on 5th March in London.

As Civica’s lead complaint management consultant Michael Hill said:

“We’re thrilled to be sponsoring this year’s awards. It’s an informative and engaging day, and a great opportunity to learn best practice from peers and see first-hand how others are making a difference around complaints management.”

We look forward to seeing Civica at the Awards, and we hope to see you there too!


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 18, 20207min790

It’s important to get your EX knowledge from a wide range of places – above and below ground! Sure, there’s a huge value in listening to influencers and reading academic research. But qualitative, unique perspectives are really important too.

So we’ve collected together some lesser-known EX stories from all corners of the web, from ordinary workers all around the world. In here are examples of great work environments – and things to avoid! Hopefully you find these interesting.


The Email From Hell

“I worked for an oil company, and lived through mass redundancies when the oil went belly up.

They sent out a list of which positions were being made redundant, with numbers for how many people currently held that role and how many they were cutting it to. So if it said ‘Buyers | Current: 4 | Consultation: 3’ you knew that if you were a buyer you’d be under scrutiny and 25% of your team would be gone soon.

I sat at my desk and opened the e-mail. Looked for my position, no redundancy for me. The girl next to me opened hers and saw ‘Her position | Current: 1 | Consultation: 0’. That’s how she learned she’d lost her job.”


Awesome Bosses

“I worked at a radio station setting up and operating the technology for remote broadcasts, and the manager of the station was awesome.

He knew how to do every job in the station and would always be willing to offer help if he was on site with you, but didn’t interfere unless you were really messing up or asked for help.

One time, I forgot my staff pass at a concert and wasn’t allowed in during setup. When I called him asking what to do and profusely apologising, he walked up to the other side of the fence with the same jovial smile he always had and handed me a spare pass through the links. He dismissed my apologies and said mistakes happen.

I moved away and had to quit, but he’s given me sterling recommendation for every resume I’ve submitted since then.”


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Making Company News Fun

“Ten minutes into the company meeting someone’s phone went off playing bagpipe music. But as it got louder we realised it was an actual set of bagpipes playing outside. Before we knew it, the guy marches into the conference room blasting away. After he finished playing, the speaker, who had been playing dumb until now, announced that we had just acquired a small company in Scotland. Best announcement ever.”



Own Devices

“I work at a dispersed mid-sized enterprise which makes stuff everyone reading this probably owns. There is no management structure so-to-say. There is leadership but they’re not so much there to manage people as help steer the organisation directionally and approve large investments. We make our own decisions about what we individually spend our time doing and are free to form teams to investigate and implement new functionality. Salary is uniquely determined by your performance and usefulness to the company (not your boss’ opinion).

Upsides? Zero micromanagement. You will never have someone question why you left at 1pm on a Tuesday. You get to spend a lot of time experimenting and probably do more technical work than peers at other organisations.

Downsides? Decisions can be hard. No bosses means no one saying “you will do X” so you end up having to convince some hold-outs that solution X is better than Y. Policies are hard since who is there to say you MUST follow X policy?

The organisation works great if people feel ownership and just overall do what they’re supposed to do. It breaks down when no one steps up to do certain stuff.”


All That Glitters is Not Gold

“If there’s stuff pointed out there such as for entertainment, I’d be a little skeptical. You’re not paid to chill doing those things, so if they’re actually there to be used for relaxing, there’s a good chance you’re: doing a demanding or stressful job, or some other negative for them to try promote ‘fun’ activities at the workplace.

Flash offices and tidbits might seem appealing, but after a few months the job often might not be. Focus on whether you’ll enjoy the content of your job. Also bear in mind that above market-rate pay may also be compensating for something.”


If you’d like to see top organisations talking about their employee experience, book your seats today for the UK Employee Experience Awards!

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Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 18, 20207min1000

With the entry deadline for the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards fast approaching, we’re keen to look into how others are raising awareness of environmental issues. And the work of one London artist is a fascinating example.

An interactive installation is helping residents of one of Europe’s worst cities for air quality learn more about what they are breathing, and educate on steps to improve the environment for all residents.

The Pollution Pavillion was erected last month in London’s iconic Covent Garden Piazza, and is set to return to the city this spring when it will take up residence in Grosvenor Square.

Featuring huge balloons that change colour to reflect the level of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) at five different points across London, the Pavillion provides a stark visualisation of the risk to human health caused by NO2, which has been linked to asthma, cancer, and reduced life expectancy.

A 2018 study commissioned by Greenpeace ranked London the third-worst European capital for air quality, ahead of Moscow and Rome.

The brainchild of environmental charity Hubbub and Grosvenor Britain & Ireland to promote their #AirWeShare campaign, the new installation was designed by members of creative collective Climate and Cities, which aims to encourager those who interact with the Pavillion to contact their MPs and lobby for measures to improve air quality.

One of the designers involved with the Pollution Pavillion is Rebecca Lardeur, who told us about the reaction to the installation, and the importance of visualising air quality levels in order to motivate the public to demand better.

Originally from Paris, Rebecca said her collective’s goal is to offer city dwellers the opportunity to see what cannot normally be seen in regards to their air.

“The public is invited to come and interact with five buttons, linked to five different monitoring stations in different parts of London – such as main roads and parks. Users press the buttons and the colours of the balloon will change accordingly,” Rebecca explained.

“The piece uses nitrogen dioxide data provided by Kings College. When you click you have a centre that knows the data, and its relation to the World Health Organisation NO2 levels – it would be blue if below, pink if above, and half pink, half blue if it was on the limit.

“We are trying to allow people to visualise what normally can’t be seen, but can impact their health and wellbeing.”

Many visitors to the installation during its Covent Garden stint were unsurprised at the levels of NO2, Rebecca revealed, showing that many people are already aware of air quality issues, while others were shocked at what they saw.

Despite its serious message, the project was also a chance for visitors to have fun, with many children loving the interactive nature of the installation, and people happily posing for selfies with the balloons.

“The lowest recorded NO2 area was Richmond, and we had visitors from Richmond very happy about that,” added Rebecca, whose previous work has also focussed on climate and environmental issues.

A Masters graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, Rebecca is keen to emphasise the risks to things we take for granted, such as access to clean drinking water, resulting from climate change.

Her Masters project looked at the impact of global warming and biodiversity loss – two factors set to have a dramatic effect on day-to-day living.

“The Pollution Pavillion was commissioned by Hubbub, so there were always people from the charity on hand to discuss the installation, and to encourage people to send letters to their MPs and ask for more policy change regarding air quality,” Rebecca continued.

“They also offered tips on avoiding nitrogen dioxide, such as avoiding congested roads and choosing back roads, for example, where the NO2 levels are lower.”

“The reality is that NO2 is a mostly human-made gas resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, such as in cars and heating. It’s not a greenhouse gas, so it’s not causing climate temperature to rise, but it is extremely toxic to humans, and can cause lung problems, and trigger issues in people with asthma, for example.

“Unfortunately, research shows that it’s bad for other organs in the body.”

Other areas the Climate and Cities collective is keen to highlight in future projects include the ecological impact of cloud computing, resulting from the enormous amounts of energy required to run, and effectively cool, data centres.

“The energy required to cool these is so much that there are plans to build data centres underwater in order to cool them more effectively and at less cost to the environment,” Rebecca explained.

“Our vision as a collective is that climate change is happening and a lot of us don’t know what it means or how to adapt – our work explores ways in which we can all make a difference to the environment, and to our own health.”


If your company has been doing great work for the environment, enter the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards today!



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 14, 20203min1620

We’re delighted to inform you that entries are open for the UK Customer Experience Awards 2020!

It’s held on 15th October at the legendary Wembley Stadium. And it brings together the country’s top CX professionals for competition, celebration, and more!


What can I expect?
  • A full-day experience: give your presentation in the morning, meet hundreds of other CX professionals and glam up for the Awards ceremony in the evening!
  • Attend other companies’ presentations, and also learn from 8 #CXTrendTalks running throughout the day.
  • Detailed feedback reports for every finalist.

Find out more



How do I enter?

We have a two-step entry process. Half your score comes from a written entry, and half from a live presentation on 15th October.

This year, we’re offering you a refreshed set of 16 categories. These are designed to reward every aspect of customer experience, and every type of organisation has the chance to do well if they’ve achieved CX excellence.

View Categories 


What makes these Awards fair?

We take several steps to ensure the integrity and fairness of the Awards, which is why we’ve received the Gold Trust Mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council:

  • Every judge is an independent business professional who applies to judge with us
  • Each entry is considered for a minimum of 7.5 hours by the judging panel
  • All finalists receive a detailed feedback report

We’re currently accepting applications to judge at the Awards. Could this be you?




If you enter before 5th May, you’ll £100 off your first category. And you won’t need to finish writing your entry until June!

We can’t wait to hear the CX stories you have to share, and we look forward to seeing you at the UK Customer Experience Awards in October!


For more customer experience stories, click here.



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 4, 20203min1790

A competition is only meaningful when the rules are fair and fairly enforced.

An award should mean something special: it’s a recognition of the hard work that’s gone into your commercial success. At Awards International, we ensure that every trophy is assessed to the same high standards, so if you win, you know it was well-deserved.

First of all, we make all our scoring criteria publicly available. We don’t believe in awards being given out by mysterious academies with utterly opaque methods; no, you need to know the standards against which you’re being assessed. Many finalists choose to structure their presentations around these criteria: Objectives, Stakeholder Engagement, Implementation and so on.

Apply to judge at the UK Digital Experience Awards

We also promote the involvement of our judges, so you’ll know exactly who’s assessing each category. Because half your score comes from a live presentation on the day of the Awards Finals, you’ll also have the chance to meet your judges in person. This makes a real difference: it reminds you that our judges are real people who aren’t employees of Awards International!

And finally, every finalist receives a detailed feedback report after the event. This contains your scores, comments from the judges on both your written entry and live presentation, and information on how you performed relative to others in your category. With many other awards programmes, you’ll only find out whether you won. We believe that entering awards should be an educational opportunity, and that those who didn’t win deserve to know how they can improve their entries in the future.

Enter the UK Digital Experience Awards

Apply to judge at the UK Employee Experience Awards

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Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 4, 20203min2590

Customer Experience: How Far We've ComeWith entries for the UK Customer Experience Awards opening very soon, it’s a good time to reflect on how much we’ve seen CX improve over the years.

The inaugural Awards were held in 2010 – a decade ago. At that time, customer experience was still in relative infancy. Organisations certainly saw its potential, but there was a gap between the rhetoric and the action. Many companies were yet to invest heavily in customer experience transformation.

But as the 2010s progressed, so too did customer experience. And at Awards International, we got to see that change first-hand. The tactics and strategies that organisations presented grew more sophisticated with every passing year, and the ‘bar’ for a winning entry kept rising. The Awards themselves have also grown alongside CX – last year saw 1000 CX professionals celebrating their achievements at Wembley Stadium.

It’s been a privilege to witness the maturing of an entire discipline. Having seen the early phases of CX transformation, it’s now very satisfying to see customer-centricity become such a dominant force.

These improvements aren’t just in the UK: standards have been rising consistently in the UAE, where we organise the Gulf Customer Experience Awards. And we’ve seen significant improvements in South East Europe, which is why we started the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards this year.

We’ve been very impressed by the rise of sophisticated new CX tools, but also by the human culture and employee experience that can harness these insights effectively. As we move into a new decade, we expect that companies able to combine these approaches to deliver for their customers will be the ones who succeed at the Awards.

Watching presentations at our various events is a bit like a CX ‘check-up’: you get exposed to the latest ideas, but also get inspired by the dedication and brilliance on display at the Awards, hopefully taking that inspiration back into your daily work.

In 2020, we can’t wait to hear how organisations have delighted their customers in new and innovative ways. We hope you can join us and share your story!

Register your interest for the UK Customer Experience Awards

Enter the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards 

For more customer experience stories, click here. 



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJanuary 22, 20202min2560

One thing our customers value about our Awards is their fairness: with a thorough and independent judging process, the strongest initiatives are the ones that win.

To write that winning entry, you might want to take advantage of all the help we can offer. On the ‘Resources’ tab of each Awards site, you can find a Plan2Win document. We highly recommend you read this: it contains detailed information on the Awards, advice on choosing a category and top tips for your submission.


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If you’re looking for more detailed advice, you can always contact one of our dedicated Awards Consultants. They can give you precise guidance on category selection and give you general pointers – though I’m afraid they won’t write your entries for you!

The final resource you’ll need is the Scoring of Entries document. Many finalists choose to structure their presentation around the specific criteria in this document, and that’s a good strategy – after all, the judges will be using the same criteria to assess your entry!

To give yourself the highest possible chance of success, make sure you thoroughly engage with these resources and structure your submission accordingly! The finalists that have done amazing work and can articulate it successfully tend to be the ones who win – we hope you can join them!


To enter the UK Employee Experience Awards, click here

To enter the UK Digital Experience Awards, click here

For more stories from Awards International, click here.


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJanuary 22, 20202min2260

We’re always proud to have Barnardo’s as the charity partner for our UK Awards. Their work helping vulnerable young children is inspirational, and we like to do our part by holding raffles at our events.


           The Barnardo’s Team at the UK Customer Experience Awards 2019

As our guests enjoy their three-course meal, representatives from Barnardos’ go round and sell raffle tickets, with the winners announced later on in the ceremony. With 2019 now behind us, we’re delighted to announce that we raised £20,000 last year for this amazing cause!

This takes our overall total to more than £200,000! To put that number in context: it’s enough to pay for 2000 individual counselling sessions, in which Barnardo’s social workers can give children their undivided attention and help them regain control of their lives.

The generosity of our guests is what makes this possible, so we’d like to thank you for your amazing contributions so far! Hopefully 2020 will see us breaking new records for how much we can raise!


To enter the UK Employee Experience Awards, click here.

To enter the UK Digital Experience Awards, click here.

For more Awards International stories on personal growth, click here









Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJanuary 22, 20203min2730

At Awards International, we don’t think Awards Finals should be a simple announcement of the winners. With so many professionals gathered under one roof, it’s an opportunity to do so much more.

That’s why everything is still to play for on the day of the Awards Finals: 50% of your score comes from a live presentation. This creates a real sense of competition, but also means there are scores of presentations going on throughout the morning.

Many of these presentations are open to spectators – normally a little over half. The companies presenting are more than happy for you to come in and see them pitch their initiative to the judges. .

If you bring a few team members with you, you can easily see over a dozen presentations in one morning. And these aren’t just keynote conference speeches – these are real businesses talking about the genuine challenges they faced, and how they overcame them. As ServiceNow’s Ian Ashby put it: “It was truly inspirational to see the innovation and quality on show, and gave me a number of ‘nuggets’ to take back to the day job!”

Enter the UK Employee Experience Awards

Beyond presentations, there are numerous chances to network throughout the day. Once finalists have finished presenting, they feel the pressure lift and are in a great headspace to start meeting other professionals. Unlike many conferences, which can be rather niche in their focus, our Awards feature companies from all across the economy – B2B and B2C, public sector and private, SMEs and large corporation. This diversity of companies gives you the chance to hear a wide range of perspectives – and also pick up new business!

Our events have the educational and networking appeal of a conference – plus all the wonders and delights of an Awards ceremony. This combination is what keeps our customers coming back year on year – and we hope to see you at one of our events soon!


For more stories from Awards International, click here

To enter the UK Digital Experience Awards, click here