Thomas Fairbairn, Author at Awards International


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 15, 20198min980

On Friday 17th June, we welcomed 350 digital professionals to the Park Plaza Riverbank in London, where we held our 5th UK Digital Experience Awards.

With a record number of Finalists and Judges, the stage was set for a memorable day – and it didn’t disappoint.

See the full list of winners here.

Throughout the morning, Finalists presented their initiatives in front of 19 independent judging panels. Many presentations were open to other attendees, who took advantage of this opportunity to learn expert strategies on improving the digital experience.

With time in between presentations, guests took the chance to network with other digital professionals and share best practice.

We’d also like to thank all of our expert judges, who did such a thorough and fair job of assessing the entries. Their insights will go into Feedback Reports for every Finalist, giving them constructive feedback on their entries and advice on how to improve.

As guests filed into the ballroom for the luxurious gala lunch and Awards ceremony, we were treated to an exhibition of magic from Britain’s Got Talent Finalist and member of the Inner Magic Circle, Ben Hart. He astonished audience members with his inexplicable tricks and also proved an engaging and charming host of the Awards themselves.

In our charity raffle for Barnardo’s, we were very pleased to raise £4100, contributing to our total of £11135 so far this year. This money will go towards helping vulnerable young people regain control over their lives.

When it came to the announcing the winners, 23 categories reflected the many aspects of digital experience in need of recognition. The standard of entries was exceptionally high, and it was fantastic to see the joy that winning brought to hardworking teams and organisations. You can see the full list of winners here. 

Special mention goes to our Overall Winner, Swimtime UK. With a team of just five people, they have developed a remarkably user-friendly website that enables thousands of parents across the country to book swimming lessons for their children. It was inspirational to see that any initiative can win at the Awards, as long as you can demonstrate its value to the judging panel.

Booking for next year’s edition of the Awards opens on 23rd November. We can’t wait to see you there!

For more digital experience stories from Awards International, click here






Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 11, 20198min640

At Awards International, we’re eagerly looking forward to the Winning With Complaint Handling Conference in September. For the fourth year running, we’ll be welcoming a host of influential business figures and discussing the development of world-class complaint handling strategies.

Swapping stories is a great way to learn, and case studies from 6 world-class speakers will feature heavily at the event. In that spirit, I wanted to share a few examples of complaint handling excellence from the past few years that have really impressed me.

1. Proposify

Proposify is a piece of software that helps agencies and freelancers design better proposals. Unfortunately, a dissatisfied customer kept writing in to complain. It eventually got to the point where he was threatening to cancel his account.

CEO Kyle Racki recognised this as an opportunity to exercise some reverse psychology. In his message to the customer, he wrote:

I’d love to say Proposify is a great fit for everyone, but clearly we weren’t able to live up to that here. I’m really sorry about that. You may want to give Quoteroller, Nusii or Bidsketch a try, they might be more useful to you. Best of luck!

It’s always impressive when an agent recommends a competitor – it shows that they’re trying to serve you as a person, not just as a prospect, and it can actually generate more loyalty. Once the customer realised that Proposify were willing to cancel, something unexpected happened. He replied saying:

Yes we are frustrated. The refund wasn’t necessary; we just want someone to listen…Since we started using Proposify every one of our clients has asked us about it and if it’s good. We’ve been telling them we love it but it has a few bugs to iron out. I’m just one guy having a whinge. Truth is, your product is miles ahead of the rest. Keep it up.

Certain customers require unique approaches; for this one, suggesting the account be terminated reminded him how much the software meant to him, he stayed on as a customer.

2. Firstsource

As a leader in business process management services, Firstsource are at the cutting edge of complaint handling improvements.

This year, a UK telecoms company contacted them in the hopes of upgrading their complaint tagging. Using more conventional technologies – web chat, email, social media and telephones – the company’s tagging accuracy was just 70%.

Firstsource deployed its First Customer Intelligence solution to analyse conversations with customers. With state-of-the-art natural language processing and sentiment scoring, they could better understand areas of customer dissatisfaction. In a more human context, Firstsource also trained agents to tag complaints more accurately.

Within a short space of time, the accuracy of complaint tagging had risen to 90% – and this had a positive effect on the customer experience. The company’s NPS rose from +47 to +60, and first-time resolution rose from 81% to 88%.

Firstsource are a great example of how smart use of data and emerging technologies can take complaint handling to the next level.

3. Lego

In 2016, seven-year-old Luka took his favourite Lego toy with him to the shops. But, as he explained in an email, something went wrong:

My Daddy just took me to Sainbury’s and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the stop as it fell out of my coat. I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you an email to see if you will send me another one. I promise I won’t take him to the stop again if you can. Thank you.

In a delightful response, Lego replied to Luka in a language he could understand:

Sensei Wu told me it was ok if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan… I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!

Of course, this response was shared widely on social media. One customer spoke for everyone when they asked ‘why can’t your customer service be the customer service for everywhere?’

There are two lessons here: one is that the lifetime value of a customer is what really matters. The other is that well-judged humour and empathy can go a long way.

4. Ritz Carlton

Of course, no story about customer experience would be complete without a mention of Ritz Carlton, whose reputation for going the extra mile is the stuff of legend.

One of their guests in Bali was a boy with severe food allergies. His family had taken great care to bring specialised eggs and milk with them, but they were unfortunately ruined in transit. This left them in a serious situation, especially when the manager couldn’t find any of these items in Bali.

The family were understandably growing more distressed, but that’s when the manager took the extraordinary step: he contacted his mother-in-law, who lived in Singapore, and instructed her to get the correct items and take a 2.5-hour flight to Bali.





The Winning With Complaint Handling Conference will be held on 25th September. Get your tickets here

Do you have an inspiring story of complaint handling you want to share? If so, enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards today!





Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 10, 20193min720

Earlier this month, we started accepting entries for the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020.

As we prepare for the 4th edition of the Awards on 5th March 2020, we’d like to share some new details with you.

Complaint Handling - Awards Ceremony

What’s new?

  • Due to popular demand, the Awards will be a daylong event this year. Finalists will present their initiatives and network with other professionals during the day, and in the evening they’ll enjoy a sumptuous gala dinner and inspiring Awards ceremony.
  • A new, streamlined set of 15 categories covering all essential aspects of complaint handling excellence.
  • An expanded Plan2Win document, detailing exactly what it takes to succeed in your chosen category.
  • Improved user experience on our website, making your Awards journey more straightforward than ever before.

What’s familiar?

Complaint Handling - Open Presentations

  • Our rigorous two-step judging process. Half of the final score comes from a written application, and the other half from a presentation on the day of the Awards. The criteria is publicly available, so you know what our judges expect.
  • The opportunity to attend Open Presentations (pictured right): many companies allow Finalists to view their presentations, meaning you can see how other organisations are raising the bar in the world of complaint handling
  • Outstanding networking opportunities with the great and the good of complaint handling – gathered under one roof for one night only!

Early bird offer

Complaint Handling - the early bird To secure £100 off the entry price, you must enter before 18th October.

And for just a few days, we’re offering a special deal – a super early bird! Using the code SUPEREARLY10, you can get a further £50 discount off the total price of your entries. This offer is for just four organisations, and expires on Friday 12th July, so act fast!





To enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards, click here

For more Awards International stories on customer experience, click here