Thomas Fairbairn, Author at Awards International ⋆ Page 2 of 11


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnAugust 12, 20202min3220

Over the years, we’ve heard thousands of companies sharing their story at our Awards. This process is extremely beneficial: it requires you to look at your work with fresh eyes, and you’ll perhaps gain a newfound appreciation for your efforts.

These stories evolve with the times. And recent times have been very disruptive. Some businesses have been forced to rethink their entire strategies, repositioning themselves in an economy with far less social contact.

Even though this may have been a challenging time for your business, if you’ve proven capable of adapting to the circumstances, that’s a great story to share!

Whether it’s improving your e-commerce operations, designing amazing online experiences or finding new ways to serve your customers, our judges will reward initiatives that show innovation and the ability to realise a strategy successfully. And that includes adaptation!

A particularly good place to share this story is the International Customer Experience Awards. Held fully online on November 19th, these Awards are the highest accolades we offer. In fact, last year we had 31 different countries competing! It will be a truly inspiring day, and a chance to connect with hundreds of professionals who’ve also been working hard to adapt.

Having read many comments from judges over the years, one thing keeps coming across: the judges don’t mind if you faced adversity – they care how you managed to overcome it! So if your business story of 2020 is one of transformation, that’s one we’d love to hear!


The entry deadline for the International Customer Experience Awards is September 4th.




Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnAugust 12, 20203min2930

Excellence is international. 

Whether it’s customer experience or business performance, companies are competing in a global market – and international recognition matters now more than ever. 

At Awards International, we pride ourselves on celebrating the finest business talent. At the moment, we do this by running awards programmes in four different countries, and we’re aiming to be in 50 countries in the next ten years! As we expand into more countries, we want to increase the international dimension of our Awards – which is why we’re introducing the Go International campaign.


How can I “Go International”?

If you triumph in a category at one of our regional awards (for example, the UK Customer Experience Awards) you will be automatically entitled to be short-listed* for one of our international events: the International Customer Experience Awards and the International Business Excellence Awards

At our international events, you’ll be able to meet and compete with companies from all over the world – and have the chance to win the highest accolades we offer! 

If you’re an organisation with global ambitions, this is a fantastic way of showing your customers that you mean business! 


When and where are the International Awards?

This year, we’ll be holding both Awards Live ONLINE from start to finish. Without the need to travel, we look forward to welcoming finalists from a greater number of countries than ever before!

We’ve already run three different awards programmes using videoconferencing software, and it’s been an amazing success. In fact, we had 100% positive feedback for our most recent event, the UK Digital Experience Awards. We can’t wait to bring that same expertise to our biggest Awards programmes.

To find out more about Go International opportunities, get in touch with one of our Awards Consultants today!


International Customer Experience Awards: Book a Call

International Business Excellence Awards: Book a Call





Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 23, 20203min3740

There are many benefits to getting involved in our awards programmes, and publicity is certainly one of them. At every stage of your Awards journey, there are real positives for your marketing strategy.

First, there’s the process of writing your entry. This requires you to explain your initiative from first principles, and many of our customers find this process very useful. You might be used to discussing your work with people who already know it, so explaining it to an outside observer is a really beneficial exercise. Writing your entry can help you get a newfound appreciation for the hard work you’ve done, or help you understand it more thoroughly.

If you become a finalist, the same goes for delivering your presentation to the judges. You’ll have to pitch your initiative to the independent panel, who will ask searching questions about the work you’ve done. This forces you to think creatively and explain what you do to somebody who isn’t a colleague or client!

Finalists also get a great deal of social media promotion. We will announce you as a finalist on various platforms, and there is the opportunity to do a free “Finalists Spotlight” interview in the build-up to the Awards – for extra exposure! As we get closer to the event, we will keep reminding people of your participation. You will also receive customised banners to help you publicise your involvement in the Awards.

On the day of the Awards Finals, you’ll be able to get the word out about your company even more, by meeting and connecting with other professionals at the event. We also do video interviews throughout the day, where we’ll ask you about your initiative and experience on the day. And of course, if you win, we will announce that on all our social media accounts as soon as it happens!

All winners will also receive a new set of social media logos and banners to use in marketing materials, so you’re ready to wow your customers with news of your amazing victory!

But as we’ve seen, there are benefits at every stage. You’ll learn something valuable about your organisation in the entry process, and if you’re a finalist you’ll get a lot of exposure and the chance to meet some fascinating people. Winning is just the icing on the cake!


The entry deadline for the UK Customer Experience Awards is 7th August – enter now!



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 8, 20203min3150

There’s no shortage of amazing music in the world – that’s one thing that’s made lockdown a lot more bearable!

We love to book music acts for our Awards, having featured Heather Small and S-Club in previous years. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out who we book for the UK Customer Experience Awards this October!

These are just a few of the songs I’ve enjoyed during lockdown, and I wanted to share them with you. Hopefully they lift your spirits like they did for me!


1. Belle & Sebastian, For The Price of a Cup of Tea 

From their seminal 2006 album The Life Pursuit, these Scottish indie darlings capture domestic settings very well, and there’s a gentle kindness to their music that I find very uplifting.



2. Arcade Fire, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) 

Concerning the desire to escape the pressures of city life, this song affirms our ability to look beyond difficult circumstances and find hope.



3. Led Zeppelin, The Rain Song

A golden oldie, this one starts with a highly reflective tone that seems to capture the present mood. Towards the end, though, the music breaks, as if sun finally shines through the clouds: “I felt the coldness of my winter/I never thought it would ever go/I cursed the gloom that set upon us/But I know that I love you so.”



For an uplifting celebration of CX excellence, enter the UK Customer Experience Awards. Featuring entertainment, presentations and recognition of extraordinary CX accomplishments, it’s a day that will live long in the memory!



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 8, 20207min3940

Tomorrow, June 9th, is the UK Business Awards. As part of the event, we’re recognising people that have gone above and beyond in these extraordinary times. These people have all demonstrated their heroism in various ways, and we’re proud to be associated with each and every one of them. Let’s hear their stories.


Mark Jones, Police Constable at Greater Manchester Police

PC Mark Jones has been leading the OPTIK program from GMP almost single handed. Although he is supported by an extended team on the ground, he has been performing far more than is required from him and his dedication has been outstanding. Mark has been instrumental in driving the key decisions and future roadmaps for OPTIK. As a PC, not only he has been coordinating with HCL, but also been liaising directly at multiple levels within GMP, including chief officers.

Having a number of years of front-line operational policing experience, Mark has stepped out of his comfort zone and has played a vital role in bridging the gap between Policing and IT. He has transitioned himself into more of a techno cop bringing an ideal mix of technology and policing knowledge into the program.
Mark has played a crucial role in not only identifying the right candidates for OPTIK but also in transforming end to end processes and introducing the much-needed innovation. His approach and dedication has helped him earn both the trust and the respect from across the board.



Rakesh Prusty, Solutions Architect at HCL Technologies Ltd.


Rakesh has been instrumental setting up the right team and the right process to get the project delivered on time and thus creating value to customer. He wore multiple hats in the program – being an architect, a scrum master, technical reviewer etc.. and guided the distributed teams to deliver the program.







Rachel Brooks, Operations Director at Swimtime

On the 17th March, the entire of Swimtime was forced to shut down due to COVID 19. A multi million turnover business to zero in one moment. This was an extremely difficult time for our whole team, arguably none more so than for Rachel.
Throughout the immediate period, Rachel lead Swimtime’s operations to do a total shut down, communicating with 20,000 customers, 250+ venues, reassuring staff and giving our Franchisees huge amount of support. All whilst facing uncertain herself as the company faces extensive financial headwinds. It was a huge task for which no training or procedures could prepare you for.
Rachel has achieved incredible results, the industry average for loss of customers is touching 30%, through Rachel’s actions this has been less than 1% for Swimtime. Rachel Brooks is nothing short of a hero and thoroughly deserves recognition.




Ryan Brown, Operations Director at FranScape

On the 17th March, the entirety of Swimtime was forced to shut down due to COVID 19. Our key technology partner FranScape were faced with a number of challenges to quickly shut down major systems and ensure communication was maintained to clients across a number of channels. For example, stopping the recurring payment run to ensure customers were not caused additional stress and confusion.
Ryan Brown was exceptional during this period, going above and beyond to ensure every process was designed, developed and tested thoroughly before launch. As a result, Swimtime continued to receive great feedback and have retained many of our customers.
Ryan himself has faced uncertain on his future but despite this, he continued to focus on the task in hand. He was an essential part of the projects success and deserves to be recognized.





David Hughes, CEO of the Association of Colleges

When COVID19 hit, the challenge of keeping the further education sector focused, informed and progressing across the UK was immediately taken up by David.
Being highly visible from the start, he instantly engaged the 338 AoC member Colleges, hosting mobilisation webinars (even doing the first one whilst he nervously waited in the Heathrow arrivals lounge, hoping his daughter had made it back to the UK safe from Nepal).
This early approach of clear communication via webinars and social media etc, enabled him to gain the support of major publications such as FE Week for real time messaging. Soon the whole sector engaged in webinars and #Loveourcolleges social media campaigns to showcase best practice, engaging key Ministers – who were able to address key concerns for the sector. His lobbying for funding, bringing leaders together and positive messages of support as well as physically engaging in lockdown campaigns such as #BakeOff, #GoTheDistance #WorldSkills at this time of crisis, has shown him to be a real hero for the sector.



We can’t wait to recognise the heroism of these remarkable people at tomorrow’s event. We hope you can join us!


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJuly 8, 20203min3150

This year, we’ve taken the decision to hold the UK Customer Experience Awards online from start to finish.

We appreciate how much our customers love coming to Wembley Stadium for the event – we love it too – but holding a physical event wouldn’t be the right decision at the moment, for our customers or employees. Public health comes first. But we know we can deliver an amazing online awards experience.

We know that because we’ve done it before. In May, we pioneered this fresh approach at the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards, and it was a resounding success. Finalists presented via videoconferencing apps, the scoring was all done online, and we created a phenomenal atmosphere for the Awards Ceremony in the afternoon.

And this month, we’ll be perfecting the approach further as we hold two more Awards online. By October, we’ll be ready to hold our biggest online event ever: the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Find out more

Companies have shown extraordinary flexibility to meet customer needs in these challenging times. It’s more important than ever that your customers hear about those successes, and that you celebrate the hard work done by your team to achieve CX excellence.

This is an extraordinary event, whether you’re a finalist or not. We’re offering non-finalist tickets for those who want to benefit from the many educational opportunities on offer. There will be dozens of finalist presentations that you can attend, as well as a series of #CXTrendTalks from some of the biggest names in the industry. Our Awards are unique in this way: no other event combines competition and knowledge-sharing like we do!

And without the need to travel to London, we look forward to welcoming a greater number of guests from all corners of the United Kingdom. In the evening of October 15th, we will all come together online for the Awards Ceremony, which will feature some unforgettable entertainment, keynote speeches and, of course, the announcement of the winners!

We’ve adapted our approach so that CX professionals can keep getting recognition: if you’ve shown great adaptability, this is your time to shine!



The entry deadline for the UK Customer Experience Awards is August 7th. 



Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJune 24, 20205min5370
The Mona Lisa – a classic example of emotional ambiguity.

I think it’s fair to say that the past few months have been the strangest in my lifetime. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this. This crisis has caused enormous social and economic disruption, as well as many deaths around the world. At Awards International, our deepest thoughts and sympathies go out to everyone affected by COVID-19, both directly and indirectly.

Social distancing has become a way of life, forcing us to act against our nature and keep apart from friends and family. In the world of work, the Zoom call has become the new normal. For those fortunate enough not to be furloughed or even lose their jobs, this has meant huge changes to the employee experience, but I believe that many of these are actually beneficial and will remain in place once this crisis has passed.

Earlier in the year, just before the lockdown started, I interviewed DeAnna Avis from Solus Accident Repair Centres. As part of their customer experience strategy, she stressed the importance of “vulnerability, being mindful, and getting people to open up.” This need for greater humanity and acknowledgment of vulnerability has been a trend in employee experience for some time now. But COVID-19 has accelerated the trend.

On a Zoom call, we are reminded that everyone has a home life. We see many examples of this: it might be the sound of children playing in the background, or perhaps a cat climbing over the keyboard! Although some people might think this is damaging, I think the contrary: we are reminded of the essential humanity of the people we work with and, in my view, this lays the foundation for stronger working relationships.

There is no hiding our vulnerability: the mere fact that we are working from home and “staying alert” is evidence of this. Of course, professionalism matters, competence matters, but the idea that we need to present ourselves as in control 100% of the time seems to be breaking down. I call this concept “emotional distancing”. And I think we’re seeing less of it.

In my view, this is a good thing. In his book Happy, Derren Brown argues that a lot of our insecurities come from the contrast between social and inner selves. When we meet other people, we are confronted with their social self: a well-polished, presentable version of their personality. We then compare that to our own inner self, which can feel a lot less polished! The perception of that gulf, although in reality an illusion, is the source of a great deal of discontent. I think that this crisis has made that gap smaller. Seeing our colleagues in a domestic setting and discussing lockdown mental health reminds us of how similar we really are, and how we all face common challenges.

Having read many judges’ comments from previous Awards, I’ve noticed that this is something they want finalists to discuss. If a presenter gives a 100% positive account of their initiative, judges can often be sceptical. They might well ask a question about the challenges a finalist has faced – and they expect an honest answer. In my experience, finalists that can speak frankly about the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them, are rewarded for this honesty by the judges. There doesn’t need to be a contradiction between facing difficulties and doing great work.

As with many crises in the past, this pandemic provides us with a chance to reflect on our values, and think about the kind of world we want to see when this is over. And in my opinion, a world where we acknowledge our problems is one where we can truly help each other.




Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJune 24, 20202min4120

A key element of all our Awards Ceremonies is the entertainment. Whether music or magic, we love to give our guests a thrilling experience. Today, we want to remind you of some of our favourite acts from the past, and give you an indication of what you can expect at our upcoming Awards!


1. Ben Hart

Ben has hosted the Awards for us on several occasions, combining his sublime skill as a magician with his easygoing presenting manner. Let’s take a look at the trick that made him his name, when he performed for the judges on Britain’s Got Talent:



2. Heather Small

At last year’s UK Customer Experience Awards, we were treated to a phenomenal performance by Heather Small at the end of the Awards Ceremony. Her music is truly uplifting – and this song really captures the spirit of our Awards:



3. Nick Crown

Nick hosted this year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards with great aplomb. As a mind-reader and close-up magician, he brought a great deal of charisma to the role. In this TED talk, he discusses his craft in some detail, giving some incredible displays of his skill:



All three of these performers helped make the Awards an unforgettable occasion. You’ll have to enter the UK Customer Experience Awards or International Customer Experience Awards (or both!) to find out the amazing entertainment we’ve prepared for you.


Thomas FairbairnThomas FairbairnJune 24, 20203min4980

The International Customer Experience Awards were due to be held in Amsterdam on 19th November.

However, due to the uncertainty posed by COVID-19, we have taken the decision to move these Awards online. Of course, if the situation changes substantially and it is possible to hold the event live whilst guaranteeing safety for our customers and employees, we will do so. But since we cannot be sure when the present restrictions on large gatherings will be lifted, we have decided to make the Awards online.

We’re confident in delivering an exceptional online awards experience. Having already hosted the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards using videoconferencing software, we know that this can be done with great success.

Enter the International Customer Experience Awards 

The essential format of the Awards will remain the same. Half your score comes from a written entry, and half comes from a presentation to an independent judging panel. In this case, the presentation will take place online, as will the Awards Ceremony in the evening.

This year, we’re also introducing a series of #CXTrendTalks, in which leading customer experience specialists will discuss the latest issues in the industry. This culminates in a panel discussion featuring all the speakers and chaired by our CEO, Neil Skehel. You can attend these talks, either before or after your presentation, and gain some further insights into the state of customer experience.

In the evening, we will all come together for the Awards Ceremony, where we find out the winners in each of the 17 categories, plus the Overall Winner. Featuring keynote speeches and musical entertainment, it promises to be an extraordinary celebration of the hard work and expertise of CX professionals from all over the world.

November 19th promises to be a very special day: we hope you can join us online to share your story of CX success!

Enter the International Customer Experience Awards