Thomas Fairbairn, Author at Awards International


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnMarch 19, 20203min2960

Even those living under rocks have heard the news.

We’re still monitoring developments about the virus, and will put out a full statement in the coming days. But for now, I want to share something about our values.

For us, winning is about much more than finishing first in a competition; it’s a mindset, a mentality that gives you the confidence and strength to succeed. The real winners, as we always say, are those who truly learned something at our Awards.

As we move into more uncertain times, that same mindset is what will see us through. A belief that problems can be overcome, if only we work together. That our ingenuity is never fully known until it is fully tested, and that we keep rising to meet our challenges: this is what defines a winning mentality.

Our new Global Ambassador, Luke Murfitt, exemplifies these traits. In his view, positivity is an essential part of any winning mentality. With the world seeming a more chaotic place, that positive can seem harder to find. You might not even want to find a positive spin, and that’s ok too. But I do agree with Luke: seeing the good in things, focusing on the affirmative things you can do, and accepting what you cannot change, is essential to personal growth.

This situation is certainly serious, but we’ve already seen it bring out some of the finer portions of the human spirit. Whether it’s Italians serenading each other from balconies, the immense bravery of medical staff, or merely those at home making mountains of irreverent memes, there are countless examples of this winning attitude around the world right now.

Our sincere hope is that this situation will increase our appreciation for what it means to gather together, something that may feel stifled in the coming weeks. If that is to be the case, let’s never take it for granted again – and throw one hell of a party when this thing blows over!








Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnMarch 19, 20202min1570

At the UK Customer Experience Awards, we’ve brought together some extraordinary people over the years. And they’ve shared some extraordinary stories of CX success.

Now, we’re making our most comprehensive resource ever: all our best case studies from the country’s top CX organisations, all in one volume.

This will be your ultimate tool for success, both in awards and in your customer experience work. We’re in a unique position, with such a fantastic network of winners – and we want to share those insights with you!

More details will follow shortly, but it will include an interview with DeAnna Avis, head of CX at Solus, who were the Overall Winner at last year’s Awards. With an in-depth interview about Solus’ CX journey and extensive advice about preparing for a successful Awards presentation, this case study alone gives golden advice. And that’s just the start!

At the moment, many professionals are working from home or facing other disruption. Although this is certainly a challenge, it does present the chance to catch up on things that we’re often too busy to do in the office. So if, by the time this all blows over, you’re a CX expert with a clear idea of what it takes to win, we’ll have done our job!


Enter the UK Customer Experience Awards

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Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnMarch 19, 20203min2390

We’re delighted to announce that Luke Murfitt, founder of Integrity Cleaning and UK Business Awards Gold Winner, is our new Global Ambassador.

He will be sharing our values of fairness, transparency, innovation – and positivity!

After a successful career working for a FTSE 100 company, Luke was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015. But this wasn’t the end of his business career: on the contrary, it gave him the drive and determination to found his own successful business. 

As he puts it, “Parkinson’s can only take your strength. Your state of mind is up to you.” And Luke’s mind has remained resolutely positive. 

Two years ago, he founded Integrity Cleaning. Beyond providing great cleaning services, the company looks to employ those looking to get back into work, especially mothers. 

They’ve seen incredible growth in recent years, helping dozens of mothers back to work in the process. And integrity is at the company’s core: every employee receives a living wage.

At the UK Business Awards last year, Luke was entered into the Entrepreneur of the Year category, speaking with real eloquence about his experiences and business success. This made a lasting impression on the judges, and led to him becoming the Gold Winner in that category. 

Luke is a true winner and the perfect person to share our values around the world. Having spoken recently at the UK Complaint Handling Awards, he’s looking forward to speaking on our behalf much more in the future!


Enter the UK Digital Experience Awards today!

For more stories from Awards International, click here.





Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnMarch 4, 20203min2390

The UK Complaint Handling Awards are coming up on Thursday. We’re looking forward to welcoming finalists from all over the country, who will compete across 15 different categories.

With the event so close, now is the perfect time to share some tips on getting the most out of the Awards, both on Thursday and at future events.

1. Attend open presentations

You have your own presentation to give, and of course that takes priority. But that only takes half an hour, and presentations will be running all morning (or all day in some cases).

That means there’s plenty of time to watch others present. And we always have a fascinating range of companies on display, doing their utmost to wow the judges with their stories of organisational success.

Many presentations are open to spectators, making this the perfect chance to pick up pearls of business wisdom, effective presentation techniques, and more!



2. Network with fellow professionals

With so many leading professionals under one roof, the networking opportunities are second-to-none. And because we organise our Awards by theme, rather than industry, you’ll meet a diverse range of people from lots of different sectors.

This is a perfect opportunity for you to make new connections, get new perspectives and learn how other companies are approaching their work.


3. Bring your team with you!

Of course, groups of any size can have a great Awards experience. But in our experience, organisations that bring their whole team often have a fuller experience. You can cover more ground in the open presentations by splitting up and watching different ones, and the winning feeling can be more special when you’re surrounded by those that made it possible.

At Awards International, we pack a lot into our events. To make the most of them, read the programme carefully and plan out your day. That way, the Awards are so much more than a competition; they’re a brilliant opportunity to learn and connect.



The UK Complaint Handling Awards will be held on Thursday at Park Plaza Victoria.

Enter the UK Customer Experience Awards

For more stories from Awards International, click here.


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 21, 20201min3260

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, 20207min2530

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.”


Enter the UK Customer Experience Awards


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!

Click here for more EX stories!


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnFebruary 18, 20207min4560

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, 20203min4340

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, 20203min3740

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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