Thomas Fairbairn, Author at Awards International ⋆ Page 2 of 8


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJanuary 8, 20203min3530

Our Awards programmes are fantastic vehicles for sharing best practice. We bring people together under one roof to share their insights, and it’s a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.

A judging panel at the UK Digital Experience Awards viewing the agenda for the day.


In 2020, we want to go further and share the perspectives of our winners with everyone! That’s why we’re organising a series of webinars, to be held by those who’ve triumphed at our Awards in the past.

Please click on the links below to see more details and register:

20th January at 08:30 am  – Winner’s Webinar – Entrepreneur of the Year (Presenter: Luke Murfitt, Integrity Cleaning) 

10th February at 08:30 am – Winner’s Webinar – Customer Centric Culture (Presenter: Noleen Turner, Aspen Healthcare)

28th February at 08:30 am – Winner’s Webinar – Innovation Of The Year (Presenter: Jason Danciger, Hana Group)

10th March at 08:30 am – Winner’s Webinar – Employee Experience (Presenter: Fiona Allen, Camm & Hooper)

20th March at 08:30 am – Winner’s Webinar – Best Place to Work (Presenter: Gemma Smith, Strata) 

We hope these webinars are of interest, giving you the tips you need for business and awards success! If you can’t attend, we will make a full recording available afterwards.

Looking forward to the first webinar on the 20th – see you there!


For more news and stories from Awards International, click here.


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJanuary 8, 20204min4340

At Awards International, we’re looking forward to another year of celebration and recognition. We’ll be continuing our awards programmes in the UK, Netherlands and Dubai – and 29th May will be the first South East Europe CX Awards!

With CX continually growing in importance, the quality of entries at the Awards keeps growing too! And this year is going to be very exciting for CX. Here’s quick look at our top 3 CX trends in 2020.

View our 2020 events calendar


1. The year that B2B CX comes of age

As we’ve noted before, a lot of CX coverage focuses on well-known, consumer-facing brands. Whilst these companies do great work, we anticipate that 2020 will see B2B organisations close this gap.

CX standards cut across B2B and B2C environments, meaning that B2B firms are now striving to deliver the same exceptional experience that consumers experience with their favourite brands at home.

We’ve added a B2B category at the UK Customer Experience Awards to recognise these improvements – and we expect that the entries this year will be extraordinary!



2. Hyper-personalisation

Personalisation has always been critical to CX success – but in 2020, we’re going to see whole new levels of sophistication. With 69% of customers wanting personalised experiences, the opportunity is there for the taking.

As the amount of collected data keeps rising, so too can the level of personalisation. This will be enhanced further by the proliferation of IoT devices and AI systems in the coming year.

We can’t wait to see who has been taking advantage of new technologies to deliver outstanding experiences for their customers.


3. Greater emphasis on Employee Experience

The more we understand CX, the more we realise that employees are the key to its realisation. This has been going on for several years now, but we can expect that companies in 2020 will continue to develop their Employee Experience programmes, focusing on holistic engagement and unlocking potential.

On 14th May, we’ll be hosting the UK Employee Experience Awards in London. Be sure to submit your entry before the deadline on 31st January.


To all our customers working in the CX space, we wish you a happy and successful New Year. We hope you continue to advance the cause of customer-centricity, and we can’t wait to hear your stories!


Enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards

Enter the UK Employee Experience Awards


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnDecember 10, 20193min4400

At each of our Awards, we offer prizes in a series of categories. They are specially selected to recognise the diverse accomplishments of CX and business professionals.

The best route to Awards success, of course, is having a great initiative. If you have achieved great results, that will impress the judges. But you have to make sure that you’re choosing the right category.

The first step is to figure out if you’ll be entering as an organisation, team or individual. We offer prizes in each of these areas – and you can enter all of them if you wish!






To enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards, click here.


Once you’ve determined if you’re entering as an organisation, team or individual, you need to consider your specific initiative. Have a clear idea of what it is, and what exactly you accomplished. If you’re an organisation, go through the list of categories and see which ones are the best fit. Remember: you can enter the same initiative into multiple categories – but it must be relevant to all of them!

For example, if you’ve been using machine learning to enhance the Contact Centre experience, you could enter both the Contact Centre and Use of Technology categories with the same initiative.

It’s good to figure this out before you submit the first entry, as we offer discounts when you enter multiple categories at the same time. So – have a good idea of all the categories and your preferences before you enter!

If you’re looking for additional advice on categories, you can always check out our Plan2Win document. It contains more detailed information on the Awards, as well as top tips on writing a successful entry!

To win at our Awards, you have to play to your strengths. Good luck picking the category(ies) that are best for you!


To enter the UK Employee Experience Awards, click here

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnDecember 10, 20194min5130

At Awards International, we believe that outstanding contributions to customer experience deserve recognition. We already organise Customer Experience Awards in the UK, Netherlands and Dubai. Now it’s time to share our message of celebration and inspiration with a wider audience.

South East Europe is a region where customer centricity is rising up the agenda. More and more companies are taking steps to improve their CX, but we don’t feel that these efforts are being properly rewarded at this stage. That’s why we’ve launched the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards.


Belgrade, Location for SEECXA 2020

Held in Belgrade on 29th May 2020, we will be welcoming entries from organisations, individuals and teams doing business in:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Turkey


Many members of the Awards International team are based in Serbia, so this will be a fantastic opportunity for them to organise an Awards programme featuring companies from their own country.

If you’re interested in learning about the 12 different categories, click here.

And if you’re looking for some resources to help with your entry, click here.

To ensure the Awards are assessed fairly, we rely on panels of independent judges. This is a fantastic way of exposing yourself to the latest ideas in customer experience whilst offering your guidance on how Finalists can improve their strategies. To find out more about this opportunity, please contact Lisa Bailey on lisa@awardsinternational.com

And if you’re looking to associate your brand with CX excellence, sponsorship is the way to go! Contact aleksandar@awardsinternational.com to learn about the various options we have available.

We’ve already received lots of entries in the early bird period, but there’s still time to send us your submission! You have until 7th February – we can’t wait to see what CX initiative you’ve been implementing!


To enter the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards, click here

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnDecember 10, 20194min4490

This week, we found out the nominees for the Golden Globes. It was the first major announcement in advance of the film awards season in the new year.

We know a thing or two about awards, so today we’re including our predictions for the top categories in film. Feel free to get in touch after January 5th and tell us how wrong we were!





The nominees for Best Film (Drama) are 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story and The Two Popes.

[Awards International prediction – Marriage Story.]


On the musical and comedy side, the contenders are Dolemite is My NameJojo RabbitKnives OutOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood and Rocketman. 

[AI prediction – Rocketman.]



For the top actors in drama, the nominees are

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

[AI prediction – Joaquin Phoenix.]





Entries are now open for the UK Complaint Handling Awards – share your story today!



The shortlist for top dramatic actress is:

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Renée Zellweger, Judy

[AI prediction: Scarlett Johnansson]



And finally, the nominees for Best Director (film) are:

Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Todd Phillips, Joker

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

[AI prediction: Sam Mendes]


We’d love to hear back from you with your thoughts about the nominees. Were there any glaring omissions this year? Are we betting on the wrong horses? Let us know in the comments, or email thomas@awardsinternational.com to share your thoughts!


We’re also accepting entries for the UK Employee Experience Awards – celebrate your success today!

For more personal growth stories from Awards International, click here



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnNovember 27, 20192min5140

Last week in Amsterdam, we enjoyed a memorable celebration of global customer experience.

To see the full list of winners of the International Customer Experience Awards, click here.


ICXA Winner


Guests came from a total of 31 countries, ranging from Austria to the United Arab Emirates. It was inspiring to see how much of a global movement CX has become, and the day was an opportunity for rich cultural exchange as well as competition and sharing business knowledge.

We’d like to offer our warm congratulations to the Overall Winner, Dubai Health Authority, whose use of mobile technology to enhance the customer experience completely wowed the judges. But there were so many other examples of outstanding initiatives, and the judges were clear to make the point that the standard this year was exceptionally high.

For the black-tie Awards ceremony, CX expert Nienke Bloem took on hosting duties alongside magician Ben Hart. The two worked well together, with Nienke keeping the ceremony moving along while Ben amazed the audience with his remarkable magic tricks.

There was an extraordinary spirit in the room: clearly, it was a thrilling and inspiring experience to meet customer experience practitioners from all over the world, share ideas and learn from one another.

We’d like to thank everyone who came to Amsterdam for the Awards – we hope to see you again next year!


Entries are now open for the UK Complaint Handling Awards and UK Employee Experience Awards – take your first steps to Awards success today! 

For more stories on customer experience from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnNovember 20, 20197min5650

 In just two days, companies from 31 different countries will be gathering in Amsterdam to compete for the International Customer Experience Awards. 

On Monday, I had the opportunity to catch up with Jon Carbone from Voxpopme and Raj Sivasubramanian from Airbnb. Their two organisations are entering the Awards together, in the Customer Insight & Feedback category, and they’ll be presenting the results of their customer feedback video initiative. 

Airbnb has been Voxpopme’s client since last autumn. Starting in a pilot capacity, they introduced video capture functionality within Airbnb’s global customer post-transactional survey. 

Raj explains that this was “one of the first big projects that I had responsibility for [at Airbnb]. We learned a lot as we went through the pilot: how receptive customers would be to the idea of video, how long the videos would be, what types of topics. With the team’s help, we were able to have an immediate impact. We shared videos broadly and were able to use some of them to resolve poor experiences and actually make things right for customers. Videos influenced policy changes as well. The early impact has helped convince stakeholders that we need to do this on a larger scale and enabled our current trajectory.” 

Since the use of videos has helped Airbnb understand their customers on a more profound level, the pilot soon turned into a full-fledged partnership. “The big thing for us,” Raj says, “is the emotional element and the empathy that video creates. Before video, a lot of our insights were quantitative and driven by survey scores. This was still useful, but it wasn’t driving action in the way that video does. When you pair a video response with an insight – say ‘hey, here’s something that’s driving NPS down in this particular region and here’s the customer telling you about it,’ you have an emotional reaction and you want to help the customer. When you show that to someone who’s responsible for creating a policy, that can drive people to act in a more powerful way than just a text response.”

To get the most out of each video, Voxpopme transcribes the audio alongside the visuals, and uses text analytics to determine certain trends. Jon adds that “we can pass through whatever custom variables Airbnb wants into our platform, so they’re easily able to slice and dice the data and build those compelling showreels.” These showreels can be constructed around precise variables, as Jon explains: “you could say ‘show me all females that are millennials that left a score of 4 or less.’ And it will show those mentions and isolate the actual clips. Or let’s say you wanted to drill down into an identified theme, ‘super host’ for example, and see all responses with positive sentiment talking about that theme. It could isolate those clips and pull out those mentions in the videos.” 

Though the project is still in a relatively early phase, Airbnb has been seeing improvements in their CX already. “I think one of the big ones is our service recovery efforts,” says Raj. “We’ve put a programme in place where we have a team of specialists that follow up with people who left negative videos, and we’re tracking customer saves that way. What we found is that with some percentage of detractors, about 20% overall, there’s an issue that’s easily fixable that the videos are surfacing. Some of this stuff was happening before video, but the video is really bringing it to light. Again, because customers are leaving a video, we feel a need to follow up.” 

Both Jon and Raj are excited to share their findings with the judges in Amsterdam on Thursday, and their presentation will include examples of customer feedback videos. “What makes video so great internally will also translate to this presentation, because people see customers talking about their experiences and you see how we resolve those issues. That can be powerful.” 

 When it comes to the Awards, it’s crucial that companies across the world can compete with one another and exchange ideas to drive the industry forward. As Jon explains, “CX work is limited resources, crossing aisles and internal selling. I think an international level of recognition is really important. We couldn’t be looking more forward to it!” 

This is certainly going to be an exciting presentation to watch. I’d like to wish Airbnb and Voxpopme the best of luck on Thursday!

The International Customer Experience Awards will be held on Thursday at the Novotel Amsterdam City Hotel. 

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here. 


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnNovember 19, 20195min4240

As excitement for the International Customer Experience Awards continues to grow, I caught up with the multidisciplinary team working with OMV Deutschland: Thomas Bauer from OMV, Roland Mäusl from 360°communications, and Stephanie Ogulin and Josef Gasteiger from ambuzzdor.

As Thomas described it, the working relationship of these three organisations “started as a client, partner and service partner relationship, but ended up as a friendship.”

This strong relationship was crucial to transforming the employee experience at OMV Deutschland, an Austrian-based oil and gas company, and they are looking forward to presenting in the Employee Empowerment category.

“It’s a story of how this energy company transformed from the industrial age to the digital age,” says Stephanie. “Our project is all about giving the single employee greater power, voice and involvement, and this goes across the whole company hierarchy.”

This required a cultural shift in the organisation. Thomas describes it as “going from a knowledge and expert culture to a learning and collaborative co-working culture.”

To implement this transformation, they put a range of policies in place. “One of the easiest things was town hall meetings. We implemented a digital tool where employees can add questions that are moderated and are visible to the executive board, which minimises the distance between the everyday worker and the board,” says Joseph.

They have also introduced more sophisticated feedback formats. As Thomas says, “before, we used to get 2 or 3 questions. Now we get 16 or 17 questions in one session. And these are high-quality, deep questions.”

Roland points out that the development and project teams are taking advantage of “rooms for open and free thinking”, which give them the physical and mental space they need to come up with creative solutions.

As with any transformation project, there’s a typical progression, as Stephanie explains. “First you get nervousness, then you get excitement, then you get frustrated, and so on. We tried to set up an experience programme that openly speaks to these challenges and lets employees at different hierarchy levels experience this. It was important that the transformation team have a good feeling of what is needed next.”

Joseph says that it’s important “not just to use internal blogs or standard forms when talking about change. We moved very quickly to an experience-based approach and guided them through the change.” Roland also stresses the importance of embracing new approaches: “We’ve realised an  infection for doing more new work, using more collaboration tools and doing meetings in a new way. We also have strong support from evangelists – including the management team.”

Although OMV have entered awards in the past, winning two, they say this is their “most emotional project” yet. “We don’t just want to share it because we are proud, we want to share it because it’s so emotional and we love our project.”

The international and intercultural aspect is also a big reason for their attendance. Roland says it will be “interesting to see how other teams and other cultures are transporting these kinds of ideas”, and the team plan to pick up new ideas from open presentations on the day.

In the end, the team want to share a story of how they changed the employee experience for the better. As Thomas puts it, “everything we do is about human exchange, communications and talking to each other! It’s so simple.”


The International Customer Experience Awards will be held on Thursday 21st November at the Novotel Amsterdam City Hotel. 

Entries are now open for the UK Employee Experience Awards – click here to share your story! 

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnNovember 11, 20193min3280

Last Friday, we enjoyed a memorable UK Business Awards at the Park Plaza Riverbank in London.

To see the full list of winners, click here.


UK Business Awards - Overall Winner Strata


As many of the judges said when announcing the Awards, the standard of entries was incredibly high. Don Hales, Awards International Chairman, pointed out that the quality of submissions and presentations seems to rise each year!

Throughout the morning, finalists presented their initiatives in front of independent judging panels. The 18 categories covered everything from innovation through to well-being at work, and each one was a hard-fought competition for first place.

Once their presentations were over, guests had the chance to connect with everyone else in attendance, sharing ideas and forging new connections. It’s always great to see our finalists making the most of the networking opportunities, and last Friday was no exception!

Then, in the afternoon, it was time for the Awards ceremony. Hosted by mind-blowing magician Ben Hart, we were treated to some extraordinary displays of magic. Everyone will have had their favourite trick – for me, it was when he linked three rings together into a chain!

Special mention must go to: the Holly Private Hospital, who followed up their strong performance at the UK Employee Experience Awards with two Gold Awards, and Strata, who took home two Gold Awards and were the Overall Winner at the event.

Next year, we’re moving the date of the Awards to 9th July. We hope you can join us – entries will be opening on 2nd December 2019.


Entries are currently open for the UK Complaint Handling Awards and UK Employee Experience Awards – take your first steps to awards success today!

For more business stories from Awards International, click here