Blog ⋆ Awards International

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Awards InternationalFebruary 9, 20232min3270

In view of the terrible events in Türkiye and Syria, we cannot and will not remain silent and passive. Our deepest condolences to all the people affected by this great tragedy.

Awards International will help in anyway possible. Above all else, we strive to be a strong and supportive community, and a good community should be there in times of struggle and hardship.

This is one of those times. Let’s do what we can! Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, relatives, friends and neighbours of all the victims, but we also want to actively provide aid to the people in need.

We will donate to the Save the Children fund and make other contributions. If you want to make a donation, follow the link below.


If you also have an idea how to help, please reach out to us. Those affected need all the help they can get.

On our social media and other communication channels, we will update you on the future actions we take in response to this unprecedented situation. To all the people of Türkiye and Syria, we are with you.


Awards InternationalSeptember 9, 20221min7730

Her Majesty the Queen 1926-2022

At Awards International, we mourn the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a woman deeply respected and admired not only by the British people but by so many around the world.

A true icon, whose sense of duty and steadfast commitment to her role are an example to all of us.

We send our thoughts to the Royal Family and all those who loved and admired her.


Awards InternationalSeptember 29, 20215min29240

The Gulf Sustainability Awards ’21 has ended. So let’s recap on our Awards Ceremony!

This year, for the first time in 18 months, we were able to organise both the Awards Finals and the Awards Ceremony in-person once more! More than 150 people came to Jumeirah Creekside hotel in Dubai, all in good spirits, happy that we’re face to face again!

The day started with the finalists’ presenting their initiatives to our judging panel. At our Awards Finals, there were more than 80 presentations held and the judges scored them in secret.

In the afternoon, our host and Regional Manager for the Gulf region, Aleksandar Ilic, charmed the crowd with his energetic introduction at the start of the Awards Ceremony.

Next, we heard a speech from Sam Alawiye, the CEO of our Green sponsor, GreenParking. We travelled through time by listening to his motivational speech regarding a different understanding of sustainability. As a man with outstanding results and more than 25 years of experience, he left his listeners with a greater understanding of practical sustainability.

Our next speaker was no less impressive. Renata Liuzzi, our partner from Axis Partners, took the stage and reminded everyone present of the significance of innovation. She explained that dedication and belief in our plans is crucial, motivating us with a simple message – we should always keep in mind to focus on what we WILL do and not what we might do. She then introduced her Masterclass to the audience, a practical course that uses real world examples of successful innovation. This training is based on analysing more than 200 real case studies and proven business practices.

We moved on to planting the indigenous Ghaf trees in collaboration with our media partners, Goumbook, to symbolically contribute to the restoration of the wildlife in the region. We’re always happy to land a hand to Goumbook with their Green ideas.

As the evening drew to the end, there was an outburst of emotions! Tensions were high and the the energy levels were through the roof as we announced our GSA ’21 winners. This year, we had 16 categories. To see the winners of each category, click here. We would like to thank all our finalists and remind them that being a finalist at the Awards is a victory in its own way.

To see how it was at Awards Ceremony, check out the Galery.

The overall winner of the Gulf Sustainability Awards ’21 is… Majid AL Futtaim Hotels. Massive congratulations on their hard work. Enjoy your victory, you’ve earned it!

And thus we’ve come to the very end of the Gulf Sustainability Awards ’21. There’s always a dash of sadness when good things come to an end, but just like in nature – the end of this cycle just means that another one is beginning soon!

On behalf of the Awards International Dream Team, we are proud to have had you with us on this occasion. We hope that memories from the event will bring a smile to your face, as it will certainly make us smile. Goodbye until next year!


Thomas FairbairnJune 9, 20215min20910

Last weekend, finance ministers from the G7 reached a historic deal on global tax policy. 

At a summit in Cornwall, they agreed to close loopholes that allow multinational corporations to massively reduce their tax bill. Historically, organisations have achieved this by headquartering corporations in a low-tax economy – but the new deal would require companies to pay taxes in the jurisdictions where they make their sales. 

The G7 accord also pushed for a global minimum corporation tax rate of 15%, which aims to end the “race to the bottom” that has taken hold in recent years. With such a minimum in place, it would no longer make sense to headquarter operations in places like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. 

This news is a victory for global tax reform campaigners. They have long argued that we need international co-operation to ensure that companies pay their fair share and make proper contributions to post-pandemic rebuilding. But experts are questioning whether this truly marks the end of the “zero tax” era. 

After all, this deal was only agreed upon by G7 member states. They still need to convince the G20, who are meeting in Venice next month, and after that, there remains a steep hill to climb before global consensus becomes a reality. 

If the deal goes through, what will it mean for business? Well, for most, it won’t make a difference: ordinary SMEs and even larger corporations tend to pay the appropriate level of corporation tax already. The companies hit would be the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple: companies with a global presence that can shift their profits around the world. Whether they will pay more and whether the proposed changes negatively impact consumers through higher prices remains to be seen. Nevertheless, last week’s G7 accord is a major step forward. 

One thing is certain: the business landscape is shifting, and it’s more important than ever to stay up to date on the latest developments. Book your place at the UK Business Awards to find out what the country’s top organisations are up to! And remember: there’s a discount if you book your place before June 21! 










Thomas FairbairnJanuary 15, 20216min33970

As organizations seek to ensure success, an increasing number are adopting customer experience as the cornerstone of sustainable return on their investments of time and money. With interest in customer experience on the rise, the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2021 by dramatically expanding its role as the trusted independent professional association. CXPA is committed to equipping and empowering its members with the knowledge and skills to lead organizational customer experience strategies.

CXPA is uniquely qualified to be a trusted advisor on customer experience due to its status as a consensus-based nonprofit organization. Founded in 2011 in Boston, CXPA has grown to become a worldwide community of over 40,000 CX advocates in more than 70 countries worldwide. Since 2014, it has issued the Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) credential, a vendor-agnostic professional certification that establishes a common framework for assessing CX knowledge. CXPA is led by a Board of Directors drawn from leading organizations across the globe, including 2021 Officers and newly elected Board members:

New 2021 Board Members

  • Jayalakshmi Sudarshan, CCXP, Customer Experience Leader, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, India
  • Mark Ratekin, CCXP, Global CX Principal Director, Confirmit
  • Mark Slatin, CCXP, SVP Director of Client Experience, Sandy Spring Bank
  • Roxie Strohmenger, CCXP, Vice President, Customer Experience Strategy, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group)
  • Stacey Nevel, CCXP, Voice of the Customer Director, Prudential Financial

2021 Board Officers

  • Chair: Barbie Fink, CCXP
  • Vice Chair: Nancy Porte, CCXP, Global Customer Experience VP, Verint
  • Treasurer: Tabitha Dunn, CCXP, Chief Customer Officer, Sweden
  • Immediate Past Chair: Annette Franz, CCXP, Founder/CEO, CX Journey, Inc.

“CXPA members are customer experience thought leaders who come together to support each other in sharing ideas and information that help strengthen and advance customer experience practices in every sector around the globe,” said Barbie Fink, CCXP, CXPA 2021 Chair.

Recent CXPA priorities have included adopting consensus definitions to eliminate confusion about key terms, including:

  • Customer Experience (CX) refers to the perception that customers have of an organization – one that is formed based on interactions across all touchpoints, people, and technology over time.
  • A CX professional is a catalyst who enhances an organization’s results by understanding, designing, and improving experiences across the entire customer relationship.

Additional definitions and advice for organizations seeking to utilize customer experience as a strategy can be found at

During 2020, CXPA welcomed over 10,000 new social media followers and launched new member Networks in Dubai, India, Australia, United States and Canada. It began offering the CCXP examination through online remote proctoring, and surpassed 1,000 certified individuals. After extensive member listening, its Board adopted a new mission: “We support CX professionals to share, learn, inspire, and grow throughout their entire career.”

Key 2021 initiatives include building bridges between the CX community and institutions of higher learning, developing guidance to help CX professionals develop and execute CX strategy in accord with community consensus practices, and celebrating CXPA’s 10th Anniversary, anchored by CX Day on Tuesday October 5, 2021. CXPA has also introduced new membership options to better serve the varying needs of organizations, offering both individual and team memberships from only $225 per year. More information is available at .

“As we enter 2021, I am filled with optimism and hope because of the vibrant and supportive CXPA community that is committed to ensuring customer experiences that deliver better results for companies and their customers. When customer experience professionals are empowered, good things happen,” said CXPA Chief Executive Officer Greg Melia, CAE.


About the CXPA
The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of customer experience professionals. It provides customer experience professionals with educational and networking opportunities to help them succeed, and facilitates the industry-wide advancement of the discipline of customer experience through the globally recognized Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP). For more information, visit


Thomas FairbairnOctober 28, 20203min43870

On 21st October, Awards International hosted a wonderful 4th edition of the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards!

At the event, the region’s top companies detailed their work to improve environmental and social responsibility in the Gulf – and we were delighted to hold the Awards Ceremony live in Dubai for the first time since the pandemic began. 

Click here to read the full list of 2020 winners.

Over two days, we held the Awards in a hybrid format: presentations took place online, then the next day we enjoyed a live ceremony. Massive congratulations go to Splash, who amazed the judges and walked away as the Overall Winner.

Our Regional Manager for the Middle East, Aleksandar Ilic, did a fantastic job of hosting the Awards, and was delighted with how the day went: “It was wonderful to  hold the Awards Ceremony live in Dubai again. Thank you to everyone for getting involved in such an inspiring day!”

Gathering in person for competition was really special, but this was also about affirming a shared commitment to the planet. In partnership with Goumbook, we planted a tree for every guest at the Awards – and we planted many of those trees during the ceremony itself!

Thank you to everyone – finalists, judges, sponsors and more – who helped make this event so special. It’s inspiring to know there are so many people who care about this planet, and are working hard to protect it for future generations. Thank you for doing such great work! 

We very much hope to see you at next year’s edition of the Awards – we hope you can join us for more competition, recognition and celebration! 



Thomas FairbairnSeptember 22, 20203min41950

We’re delighted to be joining with the Collaboration Network for an upcoming webinar!

Held on 24th September at 2pm, this week’s Collaboration Webinar will examine how firms can achieve excellence in complaints handling during challenging periods. We’re pleased to be working in association with the Collaboration Network for this one, as it promises to be an engaging and insightful session.

This session will be hosted by Michael Hill, Complaints Management Ambassador to the Collaboration Network and Chair of Judges at the UK Complaints Handling Awards. Michael is one of the foremost leading experts in complaints handling with nearly 30 years experience and will be setting the scene for us with his own insights.

Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International, will be providing an update on the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2021 and how firms remain keen to demonstrate excellence in customer care throughout turbulent times.

Our Guest Speaker on this webinar will be Ciaran Harkin, Managing Director at QASSS who won two awards at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020 including Silver in the category of Best Complaint Handling. Ciaran will give us an insight into how QASSS achieved this and what activities they are undertaking to help raise standards in customer support.

This will be followed by an interactive session ran by our in-house experts, Caroline Wells and Sarah Lawrence. We will debate questions, utilise breakout sessions, run a poll and get guidance on top tips for a best in class approach to complaints handling.

You can register for free here


Thomas FairbairnSeptember 22, 20202min38790

In such a transformative year, it’s essential for CX professionals to know the latest quantitative data so they can understand the scale of change in the industry. 

That’s why Awards International teamed up with Ipsos for their latest piece of research, CX Voices: 2020. It’s a wide-ranging, “state of the nation” report, shining a light on the various ways that CX professionals have responded to the pandemic. 

And we’re pleased to say that CXM will be holding a free webinar for anyone who’d like to hear about this research in-depth. This will be held from 10:30 – 11:15 (UK time) on Tuesday 6th October, as part of our CX Day celebrations. Click below to register!



The format for the webinar will be:

Introduction: Jamie Thorpe (Ipsos)  and Neil Skehel (Awards International) – 5 mins

CX Trends: Jamie Thorpe  – 15 mins

CX Voices: Katherine Shipton (Ipsos) – 20 mins

Q&A and wrap: Jamie Thorpe and Neil Skehel – 5 mins


You’ll have to come along to discover why Ispsos have referred to this report as “a tale of two halves”. It gives a nuanced picture of the challenges and opportunities faced by CX professionals during the pandemic – and is an invaluable resource for anyone in the customer experience space. 

See you on 6th October! 






Thomas FairbairnSeptember 15, 20201min31730

We’re delighted to announce that we’re partnering with Fintech Finance for the upcoming International Business Excellence Awards.

Fintech Finance showcases the most up to date news coverage, and produce engaging content throughout all areas of the financial industry. By producing unique Virtual Arenas three times a week, as well as video episodes which look at a range of topics within financial services, they bring key topics and updates into the financial arena.

With many different FS companies due to present at the Awards, it’s a perfect fit! As our Regional Manager (Middle East), Aleksandar Ilic, put it: “Fintech Finance will be an outstanding partner for the International Business Excellence Awards and we look forward to working together, spreading the word about financial excellence!”

The entry deadline for the International Business Excellence Awards is September 17th – enter now!

And if you’re interested in becoming a judge, click here!


Thomas FairbairnSeptember 9, 20202min37840

The Gulf Customer Experience Awards is going to be a very special day. After a long period of lockdown, we can’t wait to hold a live Awards Ceremony again!

But there’s more good news! We’re partnering with CXO Insight ME, the most trusted source of strategic intelligence for IT decision makers in the Middle East.

Backed by media experts of the highest order, CXO Insight ME offers incisive perspectives on current and emerging trends shaping the regional technology landscape. They deliver unmatched news coverage and in-depth analysis of the technologies and opportunities that should be on the radar of IT professionals and decision makers looking to address today’s business problems. With real-world insights into technology vendors, products and services, they help the C-suite and thought leaders make prudent IT purchase decisions.

Whether promoting a new product, creating brand awareness or generating sales pipeline, CXO Insight Middle East offers a wide array of digital advertising tools to engage with your target audience throughout the buying cycle.

Aleksandar Ilic, Awards International’s Regional Manager (Middle East) commented on the announcement, saying:

“It’s a pleasure to have CXO Insight ME as a partner for the upcoming Gulf CX Awards. As a world-class intelligence source, they help IT professionals stay ahead of the curve, and we’re big believers in the importance of technology in advancing CX. I look forward to us working together!”

There’s still time to get your early bird discount for the Gulf Customer Experience Awards: until October 22nd, you can save AED 400 on your entry!

Thomas FairbairnSeptember 9, 20202min41150

We’re delighted to announce that we’re partnering with for the upcoming Gulf Customer Experience Awards. is the only resource in the GCC region which publishes best practices, expert interviews, in-depth articles and industry reports to enhance customer experience for all types of businesses. It also offers all-in-one social media management, training programs and DIY productivity games for customer service departments.

Aleksandar Ilic, Awards International’s Regional Manager (Middle East) had this to say about the news:

“We are thrilled to have Customer Service AE as a partner for the Gulf Customer Experience Awards 2021. They are the leading publication in the region when it comes to customer service and CX and we couldn’t think of a better partner. After a year like 2020, we all have so many things to celebrate and be thankful for, and I think the categories in this edition of the Awards really reflect that.”

Speaking for, Hamza Nasir, Director of Strategic Relations, said:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Gulf CX Awards where CX professionals can celebrate their achievements, gain insights and learn about the innovation and progress made within the sector. We hope to change the way experiential training programs can shape the future of CX. We look forward to working together.”

You still have until October 22nd to get your early bird deal for the Gulf CX Awards – a saving of 400 AED!

Once again, many thanks to for teaming up! We can’t wait to see you in Dubai on February 16th for a memorable celebration of CX excellence!


Thomas FairbairnAugust 21, 20203min23420

We are pleased to announce that EME Outlook Magazine will be a Media Partner at the International Business Excellence Awards 2020.

EME Outlook is a digital and print product aimed at boardroom and hands-on decision-makers across a wide range of industries in the region.

With content compiled by our experienced production team ensuring delivery to the highest standards, they look to promote the latest in engaging news, industry trends and success stories from the length and breadth of both Europe and the Middle East.

The magazine is owned and published by Outlook Publishing, who also produce global business titles, Asia Outlook and Africa Outlook, providing a superb platform for advertisers and media partners to showcase your services and place you in the hands of the continent’s most influential people.

“We are thrilled to have EME Outlook Magazine as our Media Partner for the International Business Excellence Awards 2020,” Aleksandar Ilic, Regional Manager (Middle East) explained. “They do amazing work in highlighting the most important issues in business right now, and we look forward to this partnership as we approach the Awards in November.”

We are happy to have EME Outlook Magazine as our new partner alongisde  Customer Experience Magazine and the Cranfield School of Management.


Sponsoring the International Business Excellence Awards means aligning yourself with leaders in business innovation, and supporting the development of ethical business practice in the Gulf.

For more details on sponsoring our events, click here.

For more stories from Awards International, click here.



Thomas FairbairnAugust 21, 20203min17690

For the International Business Excellence Awards on November 3oth, we’re pleased to announce that we’re partnering with Gulf Property.

Gulf Property is among the UAE’s premier monthly business magazine that covers news primarily related to real estate, construction, tourism and related issues.

Now in their tenth year of publication, Gulf Property offers better and real value to readers. The magazine thrives on providing news and information that its readers are interested in and find real value in.

A team of experts work hard to select a series of topics and issues that are important and close to the hearts of thousands of real estate professionals and investors. People with a wealth of knowledge on real estate and construction have been engaged to provide the real time information and market intelligence report for the readers.

Today, Gulf Property commands a healthy circulation of 20,000 and is available in newspaper and magazine stands, retail outlets, airport lounges and duty-free outlets.

Aleksandar Ilic, Regional Manager (Middle East), had this to say:

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Gulf Property for the upcoming Awards. As an organisation that recognises business excellence, they’re a perfect media partner for this event. We look forward to working together as we approach the big day!


Sponsoring the International Business Excellence Awards means aligning yourself with leaders in business innovation, and supporting the development of ethical business practice in the Gulf.

For more details on sponsoring our events, click here.

For more stories from Awards International, click here.


Thomas FairbairnAugust 21, 20202min27940

We’re delighted to announce that we will be partnering with Amigos do CX for the upcoming International Customer Experience Awards.

The purpose of Amigos do CX is to bring together professionals to discuss and exchange experiences about the Customer Experience market and everything that is linked to customer happiness and success.

They have developed several initiatives: face-to-face meetings, a spreadsheet of national and international courses, a calendar of CX and CS market events, disclosure of members profiles that are seeking for a new job, market job offers, members’ articles and relevant market content. They are also the organisers of the Wow Summit, CX masterclasses, and are co-authors of a book with 33 authors from Brazil, the US and the UK. The group’s goal is to disseminate and evangelize the Customer Experience subject to accelerate market development and inspire people on the subject.

We look forward to welcoming them to the online event on November 30th: we hope you can join us too!

The entry deadline for the International Customer Experience Awards is September 4th – enter today!

Sponsoring the International Customer Experience means aligning yourself with CX leaders and supporting the development of customer experience around the world.

For more details on sponsoring our events, click here.

For more stories from Awards International, click here.


Thomas FairbairnAugust 12, 20202min164870

Picture the scene: the nominees in your category have been read out. The Chair of Judges says the immortal words “And the winner is…” then, you hear your name being read out!

The applause is loud, but sounds almost distant: you’re in shock – in a good way – and the sense of victory is washing over you. Now it’s your chance to say a few words. But what do you say?

When you’re on the stage, you’re communicating with your customers, your team, family and competitors.

To give you some inspiration, we’ve collected together 3 of our favourite acceptance speeches. We hope you enjoy them!


Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Oscars 1998

This is a great example of the sheer joy that people can feel after winning an award! They’re like two boys in a sweetshop!

Cuba Gooding Jr, Oscars 1997

At our Awards, we don’t cut off speakers with music like this!! But it’s hilarious to see Cuba getting in all of his thank-yous as the music continues to rise.

Bill Murray, Golden Globes 2004

And finally, Bill Murray shows his subversive abilities: here, he refuses to thank anyone for his award!


Entries are open for the International Customer Experience Awards until September 4th – enter now and start practicing your acceptance speech!



Thomas FairbairnAugust 12, 20202min18130

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 FairbairnAugust 12, 20203min14990

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 FairbairnJuly 23, 20203min19670

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!



Sandra RadlovackiJuly 22, 20202min17310


It’s needless to say that the pandemic has changed everything: every corner of our lives has been affected in one way or the other. The life as we see it is unlikely to return to how it was before and the new normal is to become a standard going forward.

CX professionals worldwide will agree that Customer Experience is more often than not the element, the X factor that changes business for the better. As the entire world changes direction, customers have in a way forced organisations to rapidly adjust to their needs – or suffer the consequences very soon.

The unprecedented shifts caused by the crisis have reminded businesses that CX requires constant monitoring and revision as it’s not a one-time project but an evolution. The impact of the crisis has been felt in CX significantly and left many professionals reorienting their priorities and thoughts for the future.

Ipsos (leading Global CX provider) and Awards International (home of the UK CXA) have partnered to launch the inaugural CX Census to get under the skin of CX today. As a part of the large scale survey, you will be able to access the valuable results which will provide a view of where CX might go next.

Click here to share your views on the future of CX and be among the first to see the results.


Awards InternationalJuly 10, 20202min30010

Customer Experience Professional Association (CXPA) and Awards International are pleased to announce they have become Global Partners in Advancing CX. By supporting both companies’ values and services they will work together on various campaigns that will deliver insights and knowledge for all Customer Experience practitioners and professionals.

‘’It’s a pleasure to collaborate with CXPA. We had a few campaigns together in the past, but being a Global Partner in Advancing CX will have a great value for our customers’’ said Neil Skehel, Founder and CEO of Awards International.

One of the events Awards International and CXPA will collaborate together is CXTrendTalks, a mini-conference organised by Awards International alongside the UK Customer Experience Awards. CXPA will talk about CX by sharing insights from their long-standing experience and expertise.

‘’Awards International and CXPA share a passion for advancing the discipline of Customer Experience by spotlighting success stories and encouraging continual improvement’’ – said Greg Melia, CAE, CXPA’s CEO.

Both companies have been working on improving CX in industry and commerce and through this collaboration will offer even more possibilities for enhancing your customer experience practice.

For more information and dates about future campaigns follow Awards International and CXPA on their social media profiles.

Awards International believes winning their CXA awards creates wonderful possibilities for personal and professional growth. This is something they aim to share more and more throughout the world as they grow over the next ten years.

Founded in 2011, the Customer Experience Professionals Association is the premier global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and cultivation of the Customer Experience profession.


Thomas FairbairnJuly 8, 20203min17110

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 FairbairnJuly 8, 20207min17990

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 FairbairnJuly 8, 20203min15100

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 FairbairnJune 24, 20205min35540
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 FairbairnJune 24, 20202min29710

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 FairbairnJune 24, 20203min19400

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 



Thomas FairbairnJune 10, 20208min35070

At Awards International, we’re incredibly proud of our team. They work incredibly hard to give every customer the individual attention they deserve, and help them out a great deal throughout their Awards journey. This is the case for both finalists and judges.

To give you an indication of the help we can offer, today we’re sharing interviews with two members of the team. Explaining how we can help finalists is Awards Consultant Kristina Simonovic, and discussing the judging process is our Customer Relationship Executive Vuk Vukanovic. We hope this gives you a clear picture of the attention, care and hard work we put in for our customers.



In what ways can you assist a customer on their Awards journey?

My main goal as a consultant is to focus on the work our customers have done and advise them how to best approach the awards process. The process itself is straightforward, but I am able to advise on the best material to use for their initiative, and help with choosing the right category. Guiding them through the awards journey, it is my job to provide an excellent customer experience from our side as well. This means if they need any help with writing an entry, additional material in terms of case studies or guides on how entries are scored, I am able to assist and provide them with that. My advices ranges from the technical side to specific situations that require an individual approach.

I want to make sure everyone feels worthy of the award and are proud to be participating due to their brilliant work.


What general advice can you give for somebody considering how to write their entry?

Believe in your work and focus on how best to describe your journey to the results.  Don’t be afraid to speak about the challenges along the way and how you overcame them.

Include examples, images, and most of all: make sure your initiative has some heart!


What are the main benefits of becoming a finalist?

Honestly, people are not always aware of how much time Judges spend on scoring the written entry and the live presentations, as well. Finalists get excellent feedback! Plus the competition in all of our awards is quite strong, so it makes it even more impressive when you reach the Finals. To be able to present your work in front of all your peers and hear what they are doing, as well – that’s really valuable.  We sometimes think we are doing everything right and the same as everyone else, or that we’re completely different to everyone else! However, you’d be surprised how many times you’ll hear a new idea, meet new people, or connect with someone who might add value to your business at our Awards. Finally, credibility is built on customers’ trust. And that trust is gained when they see you going above and beyond, presenting your work, being open to changes, taking on board feedback and continually striving to improve. That is what brings you business at and a good relationship with your customers. Becoming a Finalist at the awards is a first step towards that.




In what ways can you assist a potential judge on their Awards journey?

First, I would like to make a difference between previous and new judges. Previous ones are already familiar with the scoring process, the criteria for scoring entries, how to choose categories, and the benefits and format of the Awards. Previous judges usually need assistance for the new programmes that we launch and all the possibilities of cooperation. They are always keen to become a Chair Judge, Ambassador and Partner of Awards International. I can’t count how many judges from the UK or the Netherlands came in the last two years to Dubai just for the Awards Finals, or how many people from the Gulf region and all around the world came to Wembley or Amsterdam. As previously mentioned, people judging for the first time with us want to know more about the whole process – and we can help with that. We also have marketing campaign, ‘’We connect people”, which also proves how we are putting people from all around the world in touch.


What qualities are you looking for in a judge?

There are criteria for being a Judge and it’s very important to understand that not everyone can be part of it. There’s no registration form on the website, but we have an Apply to Judge button, as around 30% of our Judges are Inbound. After our acceptance panel approves the profile, we can send the registration form. The criteria for being a judge are professional experience, length of tenure, education and recommendations from our previous customers.


What are the main benefits of becoming a judge?

It’s all about sharing, learning and meeting new people. We have the most innovative entries at our awards and it’s a two-way street: as a judge, you will definitely learn something new, which you can implement into your organization after the Awards. Also, there are a lot of marketing opportunities, where we will share your participation with our global network. You’ll also have the opportunity to contribute to our Customer Experience Magazine.


We make every effort to ensure you have the information and support necessary for a great Awards experience, whether you’re a finalist or a judge. Whether it’s helping you choose a category, letting you know about all the different opportunities at the event or answering any questions you might have, we’re here for you.



Enter the UK Customer Experience Awards

Book your place at the UK Business Awards

To find out more about judging, contact



Thomas FairbairnJune 10, 20203min36210

It’s not long now until the UK Business Awards, which will be held entirely online on 9th July.

There’ll be finalists presentations, networking opportunities and, of course, the Awards Ceremony itself.

But this year, we’re introducing something new. A series of talks called FASTHELP will be running in parallel with the finalists presentations. There will be 12 of them in total throughout the day, and they promise to give you some extraordinary insights.

We’re living in extraordinary times, and these presentations are a reflection of that. The focus of the talks will be responses to COVID-19, and how each of the businesses can offer a solution of a kind: whether that’s digitalising your experience more, retargeting your efforts, or other pieces of useful advice.


Book your place at the UK Business Awards 2020


Here are the speakers we currently have confirmed:

Michelle Ansell from Douglas Jackson

Marina Sykes from Octopus Energy

Homayoun Dayani-Fard from YWH

Gemma Smith from Strata

Mark Wright from Make More Noise

Fleur Hicks from onefourzero

Helen Pettifer from Helen Pettifer Training

Dr Paul Phillips from Weston College

Jutta Stienen from GUURU

Rossa Malone/Darren Bayney from BT Group & LogmeIn

Peter Milligan from New Generation Leaders 

Basia Szumska-Hare from Capita 
We can’t wait to hear what perspectives all these speakers are going to share. FASTHELP is going to play its part in making this year’s UK Business Awards the most memorable yet. We hope you can join us!


Thomas FairbairnJune 10, 20205min15140


Over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about business awards. In the past 6 years, we’ve used this knowledge to refine your Awards experience so it aligns perfectly with your goals and business strategy. This year, we’re proud to present our best experience yet. Let’s take a look at how.

Get your early bird booking discount for the UK Business Awards 


1. Having the chance to present live (online!)

This is such a valuable exercise. Firstly, because of the competitive element. Unlike at other Awards, finalists will present one after the other on the day of the Finals. This creates a real sense of competition at the event and makes it considerably more exciting. But it’s also a great exercise for your team. It’s likely that you spend a lot of time talking about your initiative internally, or to clients. This, however, is a chance to write and present for a different audience – one that require you to explain your work from first principles – and many of our customers find this process extremely beneficial. It requires them to look at their work from a different angle, and doing so gives them a newfound appreciation for what they’ve done.


2. You can watch other people present

If a finalist chooses to have an Open Presentation – and in our experience, most do – that means other guests at the Awards can watch. You can see the other finalists in your category, or go to a different category. Like you, these finalists will be giving insightful and frank overviews of their work, and this is extremely valuable for you to witness.


3. Networking opportunities 

These Awards will be held entirely online, but you’ll still have many opportunities to connect with other guests, and we’ll be setting up dedicated networking channels for this. People have reconnected with old colleagues, learned from each other’s expertise and even picked up new business at our Awards! With so many representatives from different sectors of the economy, it’s an outstanding chance to make some new connections.


4. FASTHELP presentations

This is a new feature for the UK Business Awards 2020 (for more information, click here.) We’ve always viewed our Awards as more than just a competition, but an educational experience as well. So we’re building on that idea and including 12 presentations throughout the day on how various companies can help your business in this challenging time. These will be running parallel to the finalists presentations, so you’ll have the chance to see some top business influencers giving their take on COVID-19, and how best to respond. We’re very excited about this new feature, particularly after a similar concept was very successful at our South East Europe Customer Experience Awards.


5. Fairness and Integrity

Even with all the other elements, an Awards experience isn’t truly great unless fairness and integrity are at its heart. We do this by ensuring all our judges are independent, having dedicated judging panels for each category that ensure every entry gets the scrutiny it deserves, and sending detailed feedback reports to every finalist. We’ve also set up a Judge Club where our judges can make suggestions to improve the process even more. Ultimately, this is what sets our Awards apart: no one else goes to the lengths we do to ensure the Awards are judged in a fair and transparent way.



With finalists presentations, FASTHELP talks, chances to meet and connect, and – of course – the Awards ceremony itself, the UK Business Awards on 9th July is going to be an extraordinary day. Book your tickets now!




Thomas FairbairnMay 13, 20203min76600

Delivering a great presentation is a key part of success at our Awards. It counts for 50% of your score (your written entry provides the other half), so you need to think of ways to impress the judges.

Of course, there is no substitute for having done a great initiative as a business; your results will speak for themselves. But you also need to think about how to engage the judges with your presentation style.

In that spirit, we want to share three memorable presentations with you, examples of great public speaking that will give you the inspiration to deliver a winning pitch at our upcoming Awards. 


1. Steve Jobs announcing the first iPhone


The world has never looked back from this presentation; this was the day the smartphone was well and truly born. In a crisp, engaging style, Jobs explains why his product is going to be a computing revolution. Some of the tech might seem a little behind now, but remember, this was 2007! At the time, we’d never seen anything like it.


2. Life After “Death by Powerpoint”

A great example of how to use humour to build engagement, Don McMillan also shows the pitfalls of relying too much on a Powerpoint presentation through – ironically enough – his own Powerpoint presentation.

3. Slaying Dragons


This is a great example of how to deal with tough questions in a calm, unflappable manner. Remember: your prepared presentation is only part of your time before the judges; you’ll also be expected to spend up to 15 minutes answering questions, so you’ll need to be able to think on your feet.

Entries for the UK Business Awards are closing on 15th May – enter now! 


Emilija VacevMay 4, 20209min17400

We met the QASSS Ltd team earlier in the year at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020. Their enthusiasm, will to thrive and learn at the same time left an impact on us as well as the Judges, as they took home two awards.

It’s no surprise to hear that QASS have been leading the way in supporting businesses in this time, providing them with all the necessary information regarding the current situation. Having started this year with two awards, they are now using their platform to help others and improve themselves as well. This whole process has made them stronger, proving that we need to stay connected and united in order to prevail.

QASSS Ltd specializes in alternative dispute resolution, working with companies where complaints have hit ‘deadlock’ and are then passed to QASSS to resolve and avoid the need for referral to an Ombudsman or court proceedings. QASSS specializes in the home improvement sector, with a heritage in consumer protection, being responsible for the following consumer protection schemes: Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS), the HIES Consumer Code and the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Scheme (HICS). The company employs 28 people and is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).


Ciarán Harking, managing director of the QASSS ltd spoke about their experience at the awards, how to help businesses at this uncertain time and their plans for the future.

‘Given it was our first UK Complaint Handling Awards experience, we found the whole experience to be brilliant. For us as a small company to be recognized alongside household names was not only a massive boost to everyone in the team, but it was also evidence that what we were doing was positive and making a difference for consumers and businesses alike.’


The UK Complaint Handling Awards was their first awards ceremony and it had a huge impact on the team.


‘They were very excited, and although it was our first awards ceremony, the competitive side kicked in and everyone wants to come back and win gold! So everyone was really happy, but most definitely have a hunger for more success.’


Our events are all about networking. We organise networking sessions to help our attendees meet fellow professionals and hopefully find new business opportunities.


‘Clearly, we have befriended the man behind the heroes and villains series in Don Hales. We have connected with a number of our judges, and as a result of the awards have started to follow a number of companies in attendance, such as Capita Remediation Services.’


The crisis that hit all of us a few months ago has had an enormous impact on business. The QASSS team is doing their best to meet their customer needs.


‘We felt it was important that we continued to operate as normally as we could, so that both businesses and consumers had an information point. Keeping them updated on how the pandemic was affecting the industry and what their options were. We have been providing specific information around government initiatives, cyber security and more recently, what companies should be thinking about in a post-lockdown world. We have also offered a free service to consumers where we will find them alternative home improvement companies to complete any work in their home, where their original trader has temporarily closed, leaving them in a position where their home is either unsafe or insecure. We recently invested in video capture technology which allows us to virtually inspect issues that consumers may have, and feed this information to companies such as insurers, finance lenders or contractors, who can then plan work accordingly based on the level of vulnerability within someone’s home.’


Maintaining a business is challenging at this time and people should have something to look forward to, now more than ever. Not losing a positive mindset is crucial but sometimes hard.


‘Every threat presents an opportunity and there is so much for businesses to learn from these challenging times. For our colleagues, it’s about looking forward to a much more digital, data driven, post lockdown world, where we can take on more business and produce even better results. The key to getting there is maintaining our consistent approach in being a trusted business support partner. Although it’s difficult now, we know there is an exciting future for us. For businesses we work with, the main focus now is cashflow. By now they will have stripped out a lot of cost, that upon reflection they really didn’t need in the first place. As a result, when they get through this difficult period, they are likely to have a lower cost base than what they did before. They will likely be much more digital and have a better focus on their people processes. They have had an opportunity to complete a lot of those housekeeping tasks they keep putting off, and finally, they almost have a chance to start again. They can reflect on life before the lockdown and what wasn’t working. They can then reflect on what successful measures they had to bring in during the lockdown, and bring those forwards.’


And, of course, we wanted to know their plans and what we can expect from QASSS Ltd in future.


‘Well if you remember at the awards we talked about our ADR Superheroes challenging industry dispute resolution times, and hitting new records for the industry. We believe we can go even faster, and we believe we can do so by introducing the latest cutting edge, digital technology.  So our clients will be seeing a lot more automation, media and of course data! All of this, in turn, should create even better customer experiences for those using our services.’


The next episode of the Winsight Webinar series is with QASSS Ltd – you can register here.

If you have a story to tell – CONTACT US! We would be more than happy to hear what you have to say and to share it with the rest of the Awards International world.


Thomas FairbairnApril 29, 20206min27550

Necessity is the mother of all invention, as they say. This year’s UK Digital Experience Awards will recognise those who’ve responded to the current situation with innovation and creativity. We’re looking forward to hosting the Awards online on 16th July, and we hope you can join us!

As excitement for the Awards continues to grow, we want to share the World Economic Forums top 10 trends that are emerging in the coronavirus pandemic. If you’ve been adopting any of these practices successfully, you’d be a fantastic candidate for our Awards!


1. Online Shopping

E-commerce was already growing massively before the virus; it’s now a permanent feature of our daily lives. After some initial delays, the logistics of extremely widespread online shopping are being figured out.

Relevant DXA categories: Best App, Best Website, Online User Experience


2. Digital Payment Methods

Although it may seem stupid that people have been microwaving their banknotes, this does reveal something broader: an aversion to physical cash in the age of coronavirus. Offering frictionless digital payments is something that’s only going to grow in importance in the post-corona world.

Relevant DXA categories: Digital Change and Transformation


3. Remote Working

Remote work certainly presents challenges (the World Economic Forum lists information security, labour laws and work life balances as potential problems) but companies that can overcome these might actually see permanent improvements in staff productivity.

Relevant DXA categories: Digital Team 


4. Remote Learning

We’re offering an expanded series of CX Masterclasses to help our customers learn during this time. If you’re offering outstanding training, webinars, or other forms of remote learning, this makes you an ideal candidate for the Awards.

Relevant DXA categories: Best Website, Online User Experience


5. Telehealth

This change has been a long time coming. To ease the pressure on health services and avoid exposure, the NHS and private healthcare providers have been substantially increasing their online presence.

Relevant DXA categories: Online User Experience


6. Online Entertainment

Pubs and clubs might be closed, but we’ve seen extraordinary innovation in this area. The pub quiz has enjoyed a renaissance, and we’ve even seen the emergence of some virtual pubs! More traditional online experiences, such as online multiplayer video games, have also seen large increases in traffic.

Relevant DXA categories: Online User Experience


7. Supply Chain Innovation

Adapting to social distancing regulations, logistics firms are finally moving away from paper-based work towards more digital solutions. Companies that have done well in this area deserve all the recognition they can get!

Relevant DXA categories: Digital Change and Transformation


8. 3D Printing

As this technology becomes cheaper, we’re going to see greater localisation of supply chains. This is an incredibly exciting development; the use of advanced technologies is something we want to celebrate at the Awards!

Relevant DXA categories: Best Use of Emerging Technology 


9. Robotics and Drones

Whether it’s disinfecting products, walking dogs or delivering items, companies will be looking for more automated solutions in the future.

Relevant DXA categories: Best Use of Emerging Technology 


10. 5G

Forget the idiots that are attacking telecoms engineers; 5G is going to be huge. As the World Economic Forum points out, it is the one trend that will truly enable all the other 9 to succeed long-term. If your firm is involved in the rollout of 5G technology, you deserve recognition for your efforts!

Relevant DXA categories: Best Use of Emerging Technology 


Read the full set of categories for the UK Digital Experience Awards.

We’re also offering an early bird discount until May 22nd – get yours today! 

For more digital stories from Awards International, click here.




Thomas FairbairnApril 23, 20204min21580

The UK Customer Experience Awards is, of course, a chance to win. To have a proper competition with your fellow CX professionals and get recognition for your achievements. But it’s not just about that. This is your opportunity to learn what it means to have a truly outstanding customer experience.

Based on over a decade of awards experience, we’ve gathered together the top 3 ways that your CX performance can receive a boost from attending our Awards.



1. Open Presentations

Many of our finalists allow guests to watch their presentations. This improves the overall transparency of the event and also makes it an inspiring educational opportunity. Seeing the best and brightest from the world of CX offering a frank view of their successes – and areas for improvement – is something our customers really value about the Awards.

In order to score well, finalists need to show the core business benefits of what they’ve been achieving in CX. This is much more than what you’d get at a conference! It’s frank, detailed and pitched at an expert level.


2. Detailed Feedback Reports

At many Awards, finalists have no idea why they won. We think this is a real missed opportunity. If you’re going to put yourself out there before an expert panel, it’s a shame not to get their insights on your work.

That’s why our judges write detailed feedback reports, for both the written entry and live presentations. You’ll also receive your scores for each of the scoring criteria, the average score in your category, and the highest score. If you won, this gives you a sense of how well you’re doing. If not, you can know where you need to improve.

Having different judging panels for each category allows the judges to give each entry the attention it deserves. In fact, the judges will spend a combined total of 7.5 hours assessing your entry.


3. Networking Opportunities

With so many top companies in attendance – last year, we had around 1000 guests – this is your chance to connect with the best. When you’re not watching open presentations or delivering your own, you can head to one of our dedicated networking areas and meet with the other finalists and judges.

This might lead to a fruitful business partnership, or simply that you get some great advice for a CX issue you’ve been facing. In any case, you’re not going to find this range and depth of CX expertise anywhere else.


Until May 8th, we’re happy to offer a £100 entry discount – get yours today! 

The Awards will be held on October 15th at Wembley Stadium. 




Thomas FairbairnApril 15, 20203min18430

We’ve seen some extraordinary examples of digital excellence over the past few weeks.

In recent years, there’s been an increasing shift towards flexible and remote working; now, that process has been sped up. Although many things will return to normal in the coming months, several changes will be here to stay – and greater amounts of remote, digital work will be one of them.

For many companies, UX and CX are even more synonymous than they once were. Companies that once blended online and real-world experiences are now forced to make their website and apps the entirety of the experience. Necessity, they say, is the mother of all invention – and we’re seeing countless examples of companies innovating in these times and becoming true digital natives.

We want to honour these achievements, which is why the UK Digital Experience Awards will be extra special this year. Held entirely online on 16th July, the UK’s top companies will be explaining how they’ve achieved outstanding digital results.

Whether you’re looking to enter or simply hoping to learn from the best, it’s time to get involved! Although the lockdown is likely to end within the next few weeks, people have become much more accustomed to conducting their whole business and personal lives online, so standards are rising as a result. In such a fast-moving environment, it’s more important than ever to know how you’re performing relative to others.

Our customers always learn from their awards experience: every finalist receives a detailed feedback report, and finalists and guests have the chance to watch open presentations at the Awards. And with networking taking place throughout the day, it’s a fantastic chance to learn from each other about creating great digital experiences.

If you’ve been doing great work in this space, recognition is also more important than ever. Your customers deserve to know if you’re one of the country’s top digital performers, and it’s a fantastic morale boost for your staff as well. Plus, if you enter before May 22nd, you can get an early bird discount! 

This is the perfect time to see how far you’ve come, and learn how to take your digital experience to the highest possible level. It’s never been more important.


Thomas FairbairnApril 15, 20204min17100

This lockdown has certainly had its challenges, and the global struggle against COVID-19 continues apace. We salute all the key workers who are doing their utmost to keep the economy moving and the people of this country safe.

At times, one can feel inundated by grisly daily figures and dire predictions from certain commentators. Whilst it’s essential to take the threat of coronavirus seriously, it’s also vital to remind ourselves of the goodness and kindness that surrounds us every day. And to laugh!

In that spirit, we’re sharing a couple of stories of truly winning attitudes – and one that will get you roaring with laughter.


1. Hold on to that feeling

At New York’s Presbyterian Queens Hospital, they blast out 80’s classic “Don’t Stop Believin” whenever a COVID-19 patient is discharged. This is for the patient, to lift their spirits after a tough stay in the hospital, but it’s also for the hospital staff. It reminds them that people can recover, do recover and that hope very much remains.

It’s also a reminder of the power of music to inspire. If Journey is just what you need right now, take a listen below.


2. Over £5m raised by 99 year-old war veteran

Captain Tom Moore, a veteran of the second world war, has captured the hearts of the nation. He is aiming to complete 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, and is raising money for the NHS. At the time of writing, donations had topped £5 million – you can donate to his NHS Charities Together fundraiser here. 

In Tom’s own words:

It just shows that people have such high regard for matters of our National Health Service and it’s really amazing that people have paid so much money. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?


3. And finally, the boss who led a Zoom meeting – as a potato!

The past few weeks have brought about some classic videoconferencing stories, but in our opinion, this is the best of the bunch. The title says it all – have a look at the image below!



If you’ve displayed a winning attitude in these times, we’d love to hear from you. Share your story at the UK Business Awards and the UK Digital Experience Awards. Now is the time for recognition! 



Thomas FairbairnApril 15, 20203min16630

Adaptability, flexibility and creativity are some of the things we recognise at our Awards. So it only makes sense that we show those same qualities at a time like this. If we’re celebrating the successes of organisations who’ve responded innovatively to the present situation, we should be innovative too!

That’s why we’ve taken the decision to make three of our upcoming awards – The UK Business Awards, UK Digital Experience Awards and South East Europe Customer Experience Awards – fully online from start to finish.

The essential structure of the Awards will stay the same: finalists will present their initiatives in the morning, network with other guests, and enjoy the Awards ceremony in the afternoon.

But we’re also bringing you a few new features. At the UK Business Awards, we’re launching FastHelp. Companies will give three-minute pitches on how they can assist your business in the current climate, with the emphasis on ‘help’ more than ‘sales’.

For the UK Digital Experience Awards, there will be FutureofDigital presentations running in parallel with the finalists presentations, and for our South East Europe Customer Experience Awards, we’re launching the very first of our CXTrendTalks. These will make the Awards much more than just a competition, but an unrivalled chance to learn about the industries and topics that matter most to you.

These changes haven’t come out of nowhere: in fact, we’ve been developing our bespoke Awards Manager software for years now. This allows you to write, edit and submit your entries on one online platform, and it gives us a firm foundation to take the rest of the awards experience online.

People up and down the country have become videoconferencing experts over the last few weeks, united by the fact that present restrictions shouldn’t limit our human contact. This applies on a business level as much as an individual one: the need to share your story, learn from the expertise of others and celebrate your team’s success is as vital as ever. We hope you can join us online!


Enter the UK Business Awards

Enter the UK Digital Experience Awards

For more Awards International stories, click here.


Thomas FairbairnApril 1, 20203min16150

In partnership with world-renowned CX specialist Ian Golding, we have an exciting announcement to make.

Ian will be running a series of Online Masterclasses, giving you CX tips of the highest quality, all from the comfort of your own home!

The two-day course will cover all the core CX competencies:

  • CX Strategy
  • Brand proposition
  • The role of employees in delivering the strategy
  • Customer journey mapping
  • CX measurement (VOC, VOE and VOP)
  • CX improvement
  • CX culture

For those taking the CCXP exam, there is the option of staying another day for an Exam Preparation Workshop, where you will receive advice on exam technique and any problem areas you might have.

Ian is offering Online Masterclasses in three different time zones: BST, PST and EDT. These classes take place on different days, so find out which one is best for you.

The next class will be for the UK timezone, and will be taking place on 6th and 7th April. Book your place now!

For those in the Benelux region, CCXP experts Marleen van Wijk and Gayana Helder will be sharing their CX knowledge. They are running two online courses, the first of which is on 14th and 15th May, with a further class held in June. These classes will be held in the Dutch language – find out more!

We’re also looking forward to launching Online Masterclasses in the Gulf and Singapore time zones – so watch this space.

If you’re currently working from home full-time, this is the perfect opportunity to sharpen your CX knowledge before returning to the office. We hope you can join us!


Thomas FairbairnApril 1, 20205min20780

With so many people now working from home full-time, new routines are emerging. And although there have been serious economic issues, many companies are displaying great ingenuity in their Employee Experience responses. This technology has been with us for a while – and it’s now being put to the test on its largest ever scale.

Today, we want to do something fun: a multiple choice quiz about your work-from-home habits. Each question covers a key aspect of home working: some of the options are sensible, and some not so much! Check your answers at the end to see if you’re a work-from-home winner.


Work Station

Having the right space in your home for working is essential – but where do you base yourself?

A – My bed is my most comfortable piece of furniture, so of course I work there. 

B – I set myself up on a good-sized table away from my bedroom and sit on a chair that provides good back support. 

C – I sit at my custom-made 18th century writing desk and polish it regularly with beeswax 



When working from home, you’re your own canteen. What kind of meals do you prepare?

A – Nothing too fancy. Yesterday I had a potato sandwich. 

B – A rich variety of healthy meals with plenty of green vegetables. 

C – Roast pheasant and brandy.



This is essential to physical and mental wellbeing. How do you stay active?

A – Does looking for the TV remote count as exercise?

B – I do a run, cycle or home workout several days a week, and make sure to take regular walks as well.

C – Ultramarathons every other day.


Conference Calls

Staying in touch with your teammates and communicating well is critical, but do you approach a call?

A – As long as the small square in shot looks good, that’s all the matters really.

B – As if I was in the office, prepped and ready a few minutes before the call begins.

C – My office is normally too informal; conference calls are a great chance for me to put on my tuxedo!



Without the same structure as an office job, it’s important to keep some work-life balance. How do you relax at the end of a day?

A – Playing Call of Duty: Warzone until the early hours of the morning.

B – Catching up with friends and family, cooking, reading, watching a box set.

C – Reading Proust’s “À la recherche du temps perdu” in the original French.



What do my answers say about me?

Mostly A’s – you’re probably not giving yourself the structure to thrive as a home worker. It’s important to keep your routine and set some standards for yourself.

Mostly B’s – you’re getting the balance right. You’re staying active, working effectively, keeping in touch with friends and giving yourself the best chance of success!

Mostly C’s – you might be overdoing it a bit. 


We’d love to hear how you’re getting on working from home. If you’ve got any EX stories to share, email and we’d be delighted to feature them on the website.



Thomas FairbairnMarch 19, 20203min43551

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 FairbairnMarch 19, 20202min17410

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

More CX stories from Awards International 



Thomas FairbairnMarch 19, 20203min45771

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 FairbairnMarch 4, 20203min16210

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 FairbairnFebruary 21, 20201min16690

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 FairbairnFebruary 18, 20207min17570

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. What is a toxic workplace? This is a great example.

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 FairbairnFebruary 18, 20207min38590

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 FairbairnFebruary 14, 20203min26620

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 FairbairnFebruary 4, 20203min22010

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

Click here for more Awards International stories


Thomas FairbairnFebruary 4, 20203min18710

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. 



Marijana VitasJanuary 22, 20203min23190

We are pleased to announce that Goumbook will be a Partner at the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards 2020.

Since 2010, Goumbook has been the leading social enterprise promoting sustainable living and green practices in the UAE and beyond. Goumbook seeks to unite environmental experts, organizations, businesses and consumers in order to create a new global community focused on sustainability and environmental responsibility.

“We are thrilled to have Goumbook as our Partner for the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards 2020. Goumbook aims to guide and inspire businesses on their path towards greener and more sustainable practices and so do we,” Aleksandar Ilic, Regional Manager Middle East, explained. “This partnership includes the promotion and creation of (a) greener event which will be more sustainable than ever.”

Founder and Managing Director of Goumbook, Tatiana Antonelli Abella (pictured left), has over a decade of experience providing sustainable solutions, designing initiatives, and creating campaigns for businesses, educational institutions, and exhibitions, such as environmental hands-on experiences including tree and seed planting.

Considered one of the UAE’s top environmental influencers, she is a regular media commentator and a seasoned speaker at conferences through her role as a green business leader.

“I am so encouraged by the number of companies now implementing sustainability in their core practices, it’s very inspiring,” she said.

We are happy to have Goumbook as our new partner next to Customer Experience Magazine and the Cranfield School of Management.

We look forward to seeing Goumbook at the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards on 9th June 2020.

Now in its fourth edition, the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards enables businesses across the Gulf to compete for the ultimate accolade in the world of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This year, the Awards return with a streamlined set of 12 categories that cover the range of inspiring initiatives deserving recognition. So whether you’re a large corporation, a dynamic young start-up or an established SME, we want to hear how you’re implementing outstanding sustainability and CSR initiatives.

Sign up your green initiative until 5th March – enter today!

Sponsoring the Gulf Sustainability and CSR Awards means aligning yourself with leaders in sustainability and CSR innovation, and supporting the development of ethical business practice in the Gulf.

For more details on sponsoring our events, click here.

For more stories from Awards International, click here.



Thomas FairbairnJanuary 22, 20202min17080

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.


Enter the UK Employee Experience Awards


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 FairbairnJanuary 22, 20202min20090

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 FairbairnJanuary 22, 20203min18390

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




Thomas FairbairnJanuary 8, 20205min27950

Customer Experience Magazine, our sister publication, has put together a comprehensive list of CX stars and influencers. It makes for fascinating reading.

We want to let you know who came top in our rankings – these are the ones to watch in 2020!


5. Clare Muscutt


Entrepreneur Clare Muscutt is recognised as a leading millennial voice in CX, and founded her own consultancy firm, CMXperience, from her kitchen in Hackney, London.

Now a global influencer, public speaker, and soon-to-be author, Clare is aiming to bring the CX skills honed at brands including Sainsbury’s, M&S, British Airways, and Premier Inn to a whole new audience in 2020.






4. Naeem Arif

Alongside running successful national flooring firm United Carpets Group, CCXP Naeem Arif has founded his own consultancy firm, NA Consulting Ltd, and has penned a whopping six books, including the hugely influential Customer First.

Birmingham-based Naeem has an unrivalled knack for business leadership and a dedication to customer centricity that is making waves in the UK.







We’re currently accepting submissions for the UK Employee Experience Awards – enter now! 


3. Adrian Swinscoe

The author of books including How to Wow, Scottish-born Adrian Swinscoe is an influential consultant, speaker, and coach, who says his driving passion is “helping create, develop, and grow businesses that take care of their customers in the best way possible, and create the great teams that are required to do that.”

A man of many talents, Adrian’s new Punk CX book is a radical departure from the often-dry tomes found on business shelves.






2. Ian Golding

No stranger to CXM readers, nor anyone with even a passing interest in Customer Experience, Ian Golding is among the UK’s foremost CX experts, whose thoughts on customer centricity are sought the world over.

Along with imparting his wisdom through CX Masterclasses and in-house training, he has penned one of the most influential books in the industry to-date, Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience.







1. James Dodkins

Topping the charts for CX influencers is the man known to many as the ‘Customer Experience Rockstar’, James brings his passion for CX to a global audience through his energetic speaking engagements.

As his image implies, James has corralled the energy and enthusiasm from his days in a rock band, and turned it towards the world of Customer Experience

From writing CX books, and even launching his own line of Rockstar CX-inspired clothing, James is bringing customer centricity into an entirely new era. Among his latest projects is presenting the This Week in CX show, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.





Congratulations to all the influencers who made the list – your dedication to CX is what keeps the industry moving forward. We look forward to seeing what new ideas these influencers share in 2020!


For more customer experience stories, click here

To enter the UK Employee Experience Awards, click here




Thomas FairbairnJanuary 8, 20203min33350

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 FairbairnJanuary 8, 20204min21790

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 FairbairnDecember 10, 20193min23740

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 FairbairnDecember 10, 20194min20900

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

And if you’re looking to associate your brand with CX excellence, sponsorship is the way to go! Contact 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 FairbairnDecember 10, 20194min21600

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 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 FairbairnNovember 27, 20192min24720

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 FairbairnNovember 20, 20197min22820

 Last November, finalists from 31 different countries gathered in Amsterdam to compete for the International Customer Experience Awards. 

In the run-up to the event, 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 19th November 2020 – enter now!

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


Thomas FairbairnNovember 19, 20195min21070

In the build-up to last year’s International Customer Experience Awards, 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 19th November – enter now!

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnNovember 11, 20193min26470

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


Thomas FairbairnNovember 6, 20193min39530

To some, ‘complaint’ is a dirty word. It’s the acknowledgement that something has not gone perfectly with your product or service. Some organisations think this isn’t a cause for publicity.

But at Awards International, we think differently. In fact, it’s a mark of maturity for companies to acknowledge their complaints – and seek recognition for their accomplishments in this area. Customers know companies aren’t perfect. They can respond negatively to an opaque organisation that presents itself as infallible.

Besides, top companies acknowledge that a good complaint handling strategy is a key pillar of the customer experience. To become known as a truly customer-centric organisation, you need to own the entirety of the customer experience – and that includes your ability to handle complaints.

We’re proud to organise the UK’s only awards programme dedicated to complaint handling. On 5th March 2020, we’ll be welcoming hundreds of CX professionals to a full-day event. Throughout the day, finalists will present in front of independent judging panels, then in the evening there’ll be a glamorous dinner and awards ceremony.


Click here to enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020


Once an organisation realises their complaint strategy is a cause for celebration, new opportunities will arise. By attending the Awards, you’ll be able to network with some of the UK’s top complaint handlers, meeting fascinating people and potentially picking up new business. You can also attend open presentations, where companies will be bringing their initiatives to life and explaining how they successfully handled complaints.

In today’s business world, consumers expect authenticity and integrity from their brands. Entering the UK Complaint Handling Awards is the best way to show that you care about, and act on, customer feedback.

So own your complaint handling success, and enter the Awards today!


To enter the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020, click here

For more Awards International stories on customer experience, click here







Thomas FairbairnNovember 5, 201910min27140

Last week, I caught up with Steve Elvins, Senior Director Global Digital Engagement at Thermo Fisher Scientific. 

He assessed entries and presentations in the Customer Centric Culture category at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards, and we discussed what it means to judge with Awards International.


How did you find out about judging with Awards International?

I actually got contacted by Lisa via Linkedin, seeing if I was interested in being a judge. I’ve been asked to do a few things in the past for Awards International and other companies, and I always made an excuse not to do it! But it came at a good time and I decided to get involved.


What did you make of the two-step judging process?

It was good. Once you get into it, it’s fine. The written piece can be a challenge but the presentation helps to put more detail around it so you get a real sense of the company and the people in it. Initially, when you’re doing the written version, you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing and scoring in the right way. I did a lot of reworking, going back over my scores and making sure I was comfortable. After that, it was good to follow up with the presentation, to get more insight, be able to ask questions. It’s sometimes difficult to write something like that in a way that captures the imagination, so to be able to learn about the initiative in a presentation really helps. 

On the panel, I met some really good contacts who I’m now connecting with. From a judging perspective, I met a diverse range of people within the field that I was able to discuss ideas and thoughts with, so that was certainly a positive experience on the day.


What did you learn about customer experience? 

It was really interesting to see the diverse nature of creating those customer experiences. There were very diverse organisations, from automotive repairs to a company that provides baby clothes. They were very different businesses, but all trying to look after the customer in a different way. I think my takeaway was appreciating the ability to really put the customer at the core. A lot of companies talk about that, but the ones that were really successful were able to make a real shift in the organisation, with the leadership pushing it and backing it throughout the organisation to make real change. 

Ultimately, Solus won our category (and overall) because they did exactly that. I think in a bigger organisation, that sponsorship, drive and buy-in from the organisation that change has to happen was a takeaway for me.

Another interesting thing was looking at Mum & You, and considering how that company would face challenges as it grew. So being able to have that one-to-one contact with their customers, creating a community, was really interesting. Some of us who sit in big organisations can sometimes struggle with how we get our arms around the customer, so it was interesting to see how a small company was starting to get into that bigger side and how they were going to handle that.

Another takeaway that I had very strongly was from CODE Students, who quite clearly had put the student experience at the heart of what they were doing, and they talked having psychologists available for students. There was another company that also had an on-site psychologist for their employees: not just people talking about mental health, but actually seeing mental health become part of everyday occurrence for employees in order to better serve customers. That was quite a powerful thing I picked up from a number of the submissions. 


Did you enjoy the fact that the Awards are cross-sector?

100%. It was a real upside to see how other companies and industries were tackling a challenge that we’re all facing – adapting to customer requirements and making sure that we’re differentiating ourselves in that way.

Seeing how other companies from different sectors – but also of different sizes – are handling that was really interesting. 


Register your interest for the UK Customer Experience Awards 2020 today!


Solus, winner of Steve’s category and Overall Winner at the UK Customer Experience Awards


What feedback do you have for the presenters?

A couple of things: bring in all the stakeholders who experienced change within the organisation – as many as you can. Solus brought in the engineers to be part of the presentation. We asked them some questions at the end, and they were able to back up what the leadership team were saying. 

It wasn’t just a leader saying ‘look at how great we are!’ The engineers, the people that bought in to what they were trying to do, were all in the room. I think that showed an organisation that bought into the vision of what they were trying to achieve. Using your stakeholders in the right way is very powerful. 

I also think that companies should focus on what the outcomes were. There was obvious passion from everyone, the businesses were clearly doing well, but in some of the written submissions, and even in some of the presentations, you didn’t get a sense of what they meant for the business. Ultimately, most of those businesses had to create a healthy bottom line in order to exist and reinvest, but we didn’t always get a sense of the benefits they were telling us about. For the smaller businesses, who may not be so focused on that every day, or maybe it’s just not such a big part of what they do, I think they could think about it a little more.


What was your overall impression of the judging experience?

Overall, it was fantastic. If you love customer experience, if you’re in that industry and you’re passionate about it, hearing from other people working in that industry and the progress they’ve made is very inspiring. Hearing people talk about the businesses they obviously love (some of them were family-owned) was really inspiring.

Learning about all the different inputs and different techniques that people were using – such as more scientific customer journey mapping or customer sessions – was very interesting as well, because I could see how people are technically collecting their data and then using that data to be more customer-centric. 

Also, it was great to meet the judging panel and have the opportunity to talk all day with those individuals who I’ve now connected with. That gives you more connections into that market, into other people who are passionate about the same thing. 

I would highly recommend it. I got a lot out of it personally and professionally from listening to and judging these submissions, it’s something I’d be more than happy to do again.


Entries for the UK Customer Experience Awards open officially on 14th February 2020, but you can register your interest now!

To read more Awards International stories about customer experience, click here


Thomas FairbairnOctober 22, 20196min21750

The UK Business Awards are coming up on 8th November, and we can hardly contain the excitement! Known unofficially as ‘the Dons’ in honour of our chairman Don Hales, it’s going to be a fantastic event.

If you’re already attending as a finalist, judge or sponsor, we can’t wait to see you there! And if you haven’t yet made plans to attend, there’s still time to book your ticket. The Awards are a fantastic educational and networking opportunity: with over half the presentations open to spectators, you can see first-hand how top companies are taking their companies forward.

Today, we’re sharing some feedback from customers in previous years, so you know what makes this event so very special.


To book your seat at the UK Business Awards, click here


What I really found useful was watching other companies’ presentations from a variety of sectors. You go and listen to someone from another industry and you think ‘oh that’s a really good idea, I will try that!’

–  Leanne Farr, Sales Director at Solar Plants



The UK Business Awards are definitely different from other awards we’ve entered, especially the judging process that went on during the day. I really liked the fact that you could have an open door presentation so that you can go and hear about other award entrants as well. That openness and finding out what other people are doing is unique, hearing about other companies’ stories and successes – it was more like a working experience. I haven’t come across that in any other awards that we’ve entered and I especially enjoyed that part of it.


– Lauren Milton, Salon Co-ordinator at Elan Hair Design



This was a fantastic opportunity to hear up close and personal from others about what they’re doing to make a real difference to their businesses, their customers and their employees. 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.

– Ian Ashby, Customer Service Transformation Leader at ServiceNow


Combining the best elements of awards programmes and conferences, this year’s UK Business Awards is a major event – whether you’re directly entering or not. Don’t miss out on the chance to meet some fascinating, influential people and the opportunity to learn more about taking your business forward. Get your ticket today!


To book your seat at the UK Business Awards, click here

For more Awards International business stories, click here


Thomas FairbairnOctober 22, 201911min27630

Judging Interview: Debbie Ashton



Debbie Ashton (left) is a Founder and SVP for Strategic Customer Experience at FinancialForce, and was a judge at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards. We caught up to discuss her judging experience. 




Was this your first time judging?

Yes, it was my first time. I was judging in the Team of the Year category. 


For those who haven’t judged before, could you give a brief rundown of what the job entails?

Once you’ve agreed to do the judging, you can choose your top 3 categories that you’d like to judge, and then there’s an internal selection process to decide which one you get allocated. After that, we received a package of pdfs that include the submissions from different organisations that have put their names forwards. I quite liked this: we got all the information via email from Awards International with login information to the portal. On the portal, you could find all the relevant paperwork, you could view it all online or download the pdfs. 

I liked the flexibility of the process. I travel a lot, so I actually downloaded the entry forms onto my laptop when I did a trip out to the US. I read them on the plane and did the scoring, then when I got where I was going, I could just put in all the scores to the portal. 

We were also invited to a webinar to get additional information about the judging process. If you missed it (like I did) you could watch a tutorial. So there was tons of information to help you successfully judge the categories. 

On the day of judging, there were live presentations, held at Wembley Stadium. Each organisation would come in and deliver their presentation live. You get to ask questions and interact, then you do another scoring. The judging process consolidates the scoring from the live presentations with the scores from the paper submissions and comes up with the winners.


What did you like about this two-step process?

I liked seeing the live presentations and being able to interact with people, but it was interesting to read the submissions and get an understanding of what people had done and how successful they’d been at creating change programmes in their organisation to improve customer experience. What I liked was that when you read them, some of them really stood out in terms of diligence and accomplishments – that really came across. 

When those companies came in to do the live presentations, you could relate to it. You might already have had some questions in your mind that you wanted to ask. It’s good to have some balance. 

It created a sense of competition but also a bit of pressure, which you wouldn’t get if you were just writing a paper submission. I think that created a bit of an edge which was really exciting on the day. 


To find out more about how to judge, please contact Lisa Bailey at


What is your feedback on the standard of entries?

My colleague judged at the Awards last year, and she said that the submissions had significantly improved over the previous year, and there were a lot more people participating in the judging this year. I thought that was a good sign of how this is growing as a subject. 

In terms of improving the quality of entries, the people that scored highly were people that very specifically answered the questions in a reasonable amount of detail. They gave the context, defined the strategy, the success criteria, the targets, and explained the programme and results. What was particularly meaningful was when an organisation demonstrated that they had directly impacted the company’s revenue, and directly impacted the NPS. Those are really meaningful metrics, so it was great to see it directly laid out like that, it was great.

When they presented, the people who got the best scores were the ones that took on board all the criteria, answered against them, and were very specific with their evidence. One of the finalists explained that they had lost business as a result of poor customer experience the year before they implemented their improvement programme. As they implemented their changes, they actually picked up a client they had lost, which had a significant impact on their revenue stream. 


There’s no conferring between judges during the scoring process. What did you make of this? 

We took that very seriously. We were covering up our answers as we wrote them and we didn’t actually talk about it until everything was submitted. We had a great chair of judges who made the rules of engagement clear at the beginning. 

In that one day, we had a great team feeling and great camaraderie, and I think that’s definitely the right thing to do and something that should remain as part of the Awards. 


What do you feel you learned about customer experience?

I found it really thought-provoking and inspiring to see what other organisations have achieved in customer experience. Some organisations were tracking their NPS score on a much more frequent basis than we do and analysing how their programme impacted the NPS score, and I felt that was an area where we [Financialforce] could improve. 

I came away from the event thinking we should implement a new change programme specifically focusing on the customer experience, what we’re seeing in terms of trends. Listening to the stories on the day of the Awards really reminded me how critically important CX is to the success of your organisation, and how to have to stay laser-focused on understanding what impacts the experience, and what you can do to improve it. I’ll be kicking that off in the next fiscal year for us. 

Some of the features that Finalists were discussing were also really cool, such as Zen Desk. I also want to implement more surveys of customers, especially at the point when customers decide to keep using our service or go somewhere else. 


What did you make of the networking opportunities throughout the day?

I connected with all of the judges on LinkedIn. I also contacted the winner of our category [from GAME] to tell her how inspired I was. At the dinner table, there were some really fantastic people, and I connected with them on LinkedIn. One of the women sitting to my left messaged me the next day saying it was one of the funnest nights she’d had in ages. We had a really good table, and I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat for the ceremony! 


What did you make of the ceremony? 

It was really cool! You got to see the scale of the event. It was a nice meal with good service. It was well-organised, there was a good stage and good audio. It’s great to see all those nerves released at the end of the day. 


What are the main benefits of judging?

To be inspired by hearing other organisations and the benefits they delivered to customers – that’s number one. Having a day away from the normal working environment, doing something different allows for some great reflective time. Giving your brain that space allows you to be inspired and to have some different ideas about things that contextually relate to what you do. The final benefit is meeting new people and building up your network, which I really enjoyed. 



To find out more about how to judge, please contact Lisa Bailey at

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here

To book your seats for the UK Business Awards, click here.





Thomas FairbairnOctober 11, 20193min33660

Yesterday at Wembley Stadium, we enjoyed our biggest and best UK Customer Experience Awards yet!

Click here to see the full list of winners.

Special congratulations must go to Solus Accident and Repair Centres. They took home the Overall Winner prize, which is awarded to the entry with the highest overall score.

Winners Announced: UK Customer Experience Awards
Overall Winner Solus Accident and Repair Centres

With 852 guests (including 145 judges) in attendance, it was an extraordinary celebration of the advances made in customer experience over the past year, and the standard of competition was exceptionally high. 

Throughout the day, Finalists presented their initiatives in front of the judging panels. Many of these presentations were open to spectators, so our guests made the most of the opportunity to learn how other companies developed outstanding CX strategies. 

There was a dedicated networking area where guests from all sectors of the economy shared ideas about how to further improve the customer experience, forging new business connections as they did so. 

And then in the evening, all our guests enjoyed a glamorous awards ceremony. Ian Golding, world expert in customer experience, did a great job of hosting the event: there were lots of awards to give out, and he did a great job of keeping the audience engaged throughout. 

After the winners in each category had been announced, it was time for our special musical guest – Heather Small. Her set was incredibly uplifting and got everybody moving! After that, the DJ took over and provided the soundtrack to the dancefloor until 1AM.

Once again, thank you to everyone for making this event so special, and we hope to see you again next year!


We have a range of upcoming awards programmes all over the world. To view the full calendar of Awards International events, click here


Thomas FairbairnOctober 8, 20195min25080

DVJ Insights

In partnership with Marketing Week, DVJ Insights have published a fascinating report into the nature of brand growth.

They conducted a survey of brands that have seen their revenue grow (high-performing brands) and once that haven’t (low-performing brands). These companies have varying attitudes on several important issues – and perhaps this explains their differing fortunes.

Let’s take a look at what they had to say on a range of marketing issues.


1. “Sales activation will become more important over the coming year.”

High-performers: 17% agree

Low-performers: 27% agree

The answer here reveals something interesting: top organisations take a more holistic view of marketing. To them. it’s as much about building and growing brand awareness as it is about getting people to buy here and now. Laying the foundations for long-term growth, high-performers attach relatively less importance to more traditional marketing. Indeed, 60% of winning brands believed a combination of sales activation and brand building was integral to success, compared to 49% of low-performing brands.


2. “We focus on lead generation and conversion.”

High-performers: 68% agree 

Low-performers: 53% agree

Balancing short-term and long-term marketing priorities, top marketers still focus on lead generation and conversion. Specsavers’ marketing chief Shaun Briggs sums up the issue: “Without leads we’ve nothing to convert, and without conversion I’m wasting leads. Nail both and I’m delivering optimum short-term results. Of course, if I’m ignoring the longer term when doing this, future leads are likely to be harder and more expensive to acquire.”


3. “Our innovation budget has been cut.”

High-performers: 7% agree

Low-performers: 22% agree

Both high- and low-performers agree that their budget isn’t enough to fully support innovation (73% and 71% respectively), but lower-performers are feeling the pinch especially.


4. “We view marketing as an investment.”

High-performers: 47% agree

Low-performers: 13% agree

This is particularly interesting; this issue contained the biggest difference in opinion across the entire survey. If your firm views marketing as costly and inefficient, you have to ask yourself: is this a false economy? Indeed, it seems like this problem will perpetuate itself: 22% of low-performing brands expect their marketing budget to rise, compared with 50% of high-performers. Without the resources to outwit their competition, low-performers could get left further behind.


DVJ Insights


5. “We work with lots of partners.”

High-performers: work with 6.1 agencies on average per year

Low-performers: work with 3.3 agencies on average per year 

Willingness to seek out niche expertise is key to success, with successful companies using almost twice as many agencies as their struggling competitors.



This report suggests that companies with a dynamic, flexible approach to marketing are more likely to have commercial success. High-performing companies value marketing that develops their brand as well as generating and converting leads. And they’re more willing to use outside help to achieve their goals.

Marketers everywhere: take heed of this report, and use it to your advantage!


To book your ticket for the UK Business Awards, click here

For more Awards International stories, click here.


Thomas FairbairnOctober 8, 20193min20620

Last week, we attended the OSX Summit & Expo at the Excel Centre in London. Representing the Customer Experience Magazine, we were there to find contributors to the magazine and customers for our various awards programmes, as well as learning about the latest innovations in customer experience.

At first, it felt like walking into a science fiction movie: there were two robots roving around the conference, taking photos and conducting surveys.


Once we got used to our android neighbours, we started on the main business: meeting, greeting and listening to keynote speeches.

My highlight from the speaking agenda was Mitchell Platt of Growth Tribe, who gave us a whistle-stop tour of the most empowering tools in growth marketing. There were many new techniques to appreciate here, and ones that we’ll certainly be using in the future!

There were several contact centre companies in attendance, which meant that we made some great connections for the upcoming UK Complaint Handling Awards. It was also a chance to generate some interest for next year’s Digital Experience and Customer Experience Awards.

From a judging perspective, we met some very interesting professionals who would make excellent additions to our panels of independent judges. Their passion and expertise in customer experience was truly evident, and I’m sure they can bring a lot of talent to our awards programmes in years to come.

This was also a useful opportunity to make connections from the South East Europe region, particularly business associations from Hungary. As we launch the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards next year, increasing the size of our network is incredibly valuable.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience. It was great to meet other professionals, hear about emerging trends in outsourcing and get the word out about our awards!


To read more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here

For tickets to this Thursday’s UK Customer Experience Awards, click here


Thomas FairbairnOctober 7, 20196min29400

At its heart, customer experience is about decency and respect towards others, and we can’t wait to celebrate these qualities on October 10th at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

A lot of this amazing work happens on a small scale: in a shop, restaurant or place of business. And since these CX angels deserve proper recognition, we want to share three stories of outstanding customer service on here.

So if you want to be able to say “I know a really cool CX practitioner but you’ve probably never heard of them”, you’re in the right place! Welcome to the Customer Experience Underground.


The Stove Salesman

Customer Experience Underground - Stove

I was in an appliance store shopping for a new stove, and was looking at a stove that was priced at $1300. While talking to the salesperson he took me to the back of the store and showed me a stove that looked almost exactly the same but was $600. He explained that it was last year’s model and on clearance. While we were talking about the particulars of delivery and such, I asked if he gets commissions on sales and learned that they only get paid a commission on sales that total $1000 or more.

This means that the salesman basically saved me $700 while simultaneously ruling himself out of a commission.

That was when I decided I needed a new television, entertainment centre, and tablet.

In case you didn’t guess, the writer here decided to spend well over $1000 to make sure the salesman got rewarded for his honest efforts. Moral of the story: customers appreciate frankness and can actually buy much more when they don’t feel like they’re being sold to!


The Restaurant Manager

Customer Experience Underground

Six of us went out to dinner before a movie. For some reason, our order wasn’t placed so we missed our show time for the movie. The manager was making his rounds checking on the tables, so we let him know what happened. He gave the whole table a free meal and said if we brought in our receipt from the movies, he would pay for that as well. We weren’t looking for a free meal, and things like this happen – really, we just wanted him to know so it didn’t happen again. We went to the later show and did not bring our receipts back from the movie – but I make sure to tell people about how quickly and fantastically we were responded to.

You can tell how mortified this restaurant manager was – and how much he was willing to do to make the situation better. The customer didn’t want a refund on their cinema ticket; they just wanted their food, and to let the restaurant know about the mistake! The generosity of the manager in the face of this error has made the writer more likely to come back in the future.


How do you like them apples?

Customer Experience Underground

I used to go to a farm every year to get Gravenstein apples. One year I bought two boxes of apples, but forgot to put one of them in the car. I only realised it when I got home. I had paid in cash, so I couldn’t even call the place and ask for a refund on the apples I didn’t take, and I wasn’t going to go back to get them (it’s about fifty miles each way). I wrote it off in my mind as money lost to a mistake.

The next year, my friend and I went back to the farm. As soon as I stepped in the door, the woman behind the counter said, “You left a box of apples here last year!” She let me fill a box with apples and take them. This is someone who saw me only once a year. I was really astonished that she remembered.

You don’t remember this much about your customers without caring about them deeply! Great CX is all about nurturing long-term relationships with customers, and little details like this make all the difference.



This Thursday, we’ll be hearing CX stories from the UK’s top companies at the UK Customer Experience Awards. 

You can book your ticket to attend here

For more Awards International stories on customer experience, click here



Thomas FairbairnSeptember 18, 20193min49000

The UK Customer Experience Awards will be a magnificent occasion. On 10th October, we’ll be welcoming the UK’s top CX professionals to Wembley Stadium for a celebration of customer experience achievements over the past year.

Presentations will be taking place throughout the day in the VIP boxes that ring around the historic stadium. Then in the evening, the Great Hall will be the venue for the awards ceremony, where the winners will be announced and Heather Small will provide the musical entertainment.

The venue is so iconic, and has so much history, that we want to share the other best moments in the stadium’s past.


1. Queen, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Live Aid 1985

A strong contender for the UK’s unofficial national anthem, Queen gave one of the best performances of all time during the Live Aid concert in 1985. Are there better bands? Perhaps a few… But has there ever been a better opening to a show than this rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody? I’m not so sure!


2. FA Cup Final, 1953

I don’t know much about football but I hear it’s popular! And footballing geeks amongst you will know that the 1953 final was one for the ages. Blackpool were 3-1 down against Bolton, before an inspiring hat-trick from Stanley Matthews led Blackpool to a famous victory.


3. England vs. West Germany, World Cup Final 1966

We thought 2018 might be a repeat of England’s World Cup victory more than 50 years ago. It wasn’t to be. And that might be because England’s only triumph came when playing on home soil. The Russian linesman. Geoff Hurst. The rest, as they say, is history.



Wembley has seen no shortage of winning over the years, which is why it’s the perfect venue for the UK Customer Experience Awards. To learn from the best and get inspired, it’s the place to be.

The Awards will be held on October 10th. To book your seats, click here.

For more Awards International stories, click here.



Rodney LawsSeptember 18, 20199min25730


It’s all but impossible to find any element of business that hasn’t been changed by the rapid pace of technological development, and employee experience is no exception. While the effects haven’t permeated every field (most construction workers haven’t had their roles made significantly easier, for instance), they’ve massively impacted classic office-based jobs, making the typical workday easier and more enjoyable.

Given the importance of employee experience for productivity and staff retention, it’s no surprise that businesses have welcomed this improvement. After all, when employees are happy, it benefits all parties involved. So how exactly is technology enhancing employee experience throughout the world? Let’s run through 8 ways you should know about:


It’s improving the recruitment process

A great employee experience starts with the recruitment process, because when a company hires someone who isn’t a great fit in general, that employee will likely never have a great experience, regardless of how hard everyone tries to make it work. Thankfully, technology has massively improved the recruitment world in numerous ways.

Using big data, companies can review much broader pools of candidates, and even source them through non-traditional channels such as social media platforms. And through the use of smart interview scheduling and even onboarding tools, the best candidates can be given great experiences throughout the final recruitment stages and into their first working days and weeks.


It’s making office life easier

It used to be that a busy office was something to simply be endured, but technology has changed that. Picture the average office worker in a forward-thinking company today: instead of listening to the drone of their colleagues, they can wear noise-cancelling headphones to allow them to focus (and even use a company-provided Spotify account to listen to music). And then there are the conditions — an IoT-enhanced office can have regulated temperatures.


It’s allowing flexible remote working

While office life is getting easier, of course, it’s also getting less common. Remote working has steadily gone from a nice (but impractical) concept to a conventional reality. The truth is that most employees really don’t need to work from company offices, and can be just as productive (if not more productive) while working from home — all while doing away with commuting. The same is true of adhering to the 9-to-5 schedule. Using cloud software solutions, employees can race through their workloads no matter where they’re based.


It’s bolstering communication

Isolated office-based employees and remote working in general wouldn’t be viable if it weren’t for the ease of modern communication. Communication is key, and with tools like Slack and Skype, colleagues can stay in close communication from anywhere and at any time — and then there are project collaboration tools (like Invision) that make it easier to pool expertise on specific tasks.


It’s allowing custom automation

The working world is full of repetitive tasks that soak up time: data entry, regular updates, inventory checks, etc. What’s great about software across the board is that it’s getting quite sophisticated with allowing ad-hoc automation sequences, and it’s saving massive amounts of time: Shopify businesses alone have saved over 9.2 million hours of productivity through process automation, and there’s plenty of progress yet to be made.


It’s supporting HR departments

Human resources is as vital a department as ever, but there’s so much to factor in that HR professionals can struggle with getting everything done manually. Using dedicated HR suites, they can not only get their jobs done more easily (enhancing their employee experiences), but they can also free up more time to help out other employees, enhancing their experiences.


It’s enhancing training programs

Staying static in one position isn’t something a good employee will accept in the long run. They’ll want to grow, develop, change, and have fresh opportunities to do new things. To keep them happy, and to enhance their workplace value, employers must invest in training. The problem with training programs, though, is that they can be somewhat generic.

The solution? Tech-enhanced training that offers new opportunities and smarter courses. Employees can engage with training materials on mobile devices at their leisure, customize their experiences to get the best results, and seamlessly share their progress with others.


It’s gamifying performance tracking

What motivates you to work hard? Is it a sense of dedication to your company? A commitment to being the best you can be? Or is it a desire to outperform your colleagues and show your dominance? It isn’t a trick question, because each answer is viable. Whatever drives you, though, technology is making it easier to challenge yourself.

Digital analytics can easily show you how you’re getting on relative to your colleagues, or relative to yourself in previous months. They can even show you your value to the company if configured for that purpose. You can then be driven by your eagerness to play that competitive game — to battle towards your selected targets on your own terms.


With every fresh technological innovation, the options for creating better employee experiences expand. Any company that wants to retain its best employees needs to be aware of all the benefits we’ve looked at, and take advantage accordingly.

To read more articles from Rodney Laws, click here

Fore more Awards International stories on employee experience, click here


Thomas FairbairnSeptember 18, 20192min22180

OSX Summit & Expo

On 1st and 2nd November, Awards International will be attending the OSX Summit & Expo. Held at London’s Excel Centre and spanning five zones, it will be an extraordinary opportunity to learn and connect.

The different zones are:

  • Customer Experience
  • IT Design & Development
  • Business Process Services
  • Digital Disruption
  • International

OSX Summit & Expo - Networking

We will be representing our sister organisation, Customer Experience Magazine. As always, we’re on the lookout for contributions from inspiring CX professionals looking to share their insights with our wide audience. But we’re also keen to fly the flag for our various awards programmes, demonstrating the power of recognition and the value of winning.

This is a chance to learn from other companies about how they’re enhancing the customer experience – whether through empowering their employees, adopting disruptive new technologies or making the most of international talent.

And with multiple keynotes and breakout sessions throughout the two days, we’ll be able to discover more about thriving in the modern business climate.

We will be exhibiting at Stand 13 on 1st and 2nd October. Book your ticket to visit today! 

To read about our experiences at the B2B Marketing Expo, click here


Thomas FairbairnSeptember 4, 20195min37260

IBM Employee Experience Index How do you quantify the employee experience? That’s what the boffins at IBM have been considering, and the results are fascinating.

You can view the whole text of their Employee Experience Index here.

As we prepare to launch the UK Employee Experience Awards 2020, we want to share the key findings of the report with you. Here’s what we made of it.


It’s really not about table football

Of course, workplace environment matters, but companies should not think that providing flashy perks, pinball machines and artisan coffees constitutes a fulfilling employee experience. In fact, those perks can be used to disguise an unhealthy work culture or other defects in the employee experience.

For IBM, there are five key dimensions to EX:

  • Belonging
  • Purpose
  • Achievement
  • Happiness
  • Vigour

Combining these dimensions to create the Index, IBM shared some interesting results.

Better EX means better, longer-lasting work

IBM conducted a survey of 23,000 employees in 45 countries to see how these factors contributed to a better experience. They also present compelling evidence that higher scores in these five dimensions leads to better work performance, higher discretionary effort, and greater levels of retention. When you look at the results of those with the top 25% highest EX index scores, and compare them with the bottom 25%, you can see the difference in performance.

  • 96% of positive EX workers had good work performance, compared to 73% of those with negative EX.
  • 96% of contented workers put in more discretionary effort, compared with just 55% who had negative EX.
  • 21% of positive EX workers intend to leave their place of work, compared to 44% of those with negative EX.

Feedback, environment and meaningful work also crucial

IBM Employee Experience Index - collaboration In some management philosophies, a notion persists that it’s counter-productive to give employees positive feedback. The evidence does not support this. In fact, just 40% of workers without consistent feedback report a positive employee experience. For those whose managers take the time and effort to give specific, actionable feedback, the EX score jumps to 83%.

Good relationships with colleagues are also crucial. When employees say their coworkers help them out when needed, 77% report a more positive employee experience, compared to 35% working in environments where help is not forthcoming. So it looks like cutthroat work environments don’t bring out the best in your employees!

The work itself must also be meaningful, ensuring ‘that employees’ skills and talents are being fully utilised and there is greater alignment to shared, core values.’ This is especially significant – just 29% of employees who aren’t sure how their work connects with organisational values report a positive experience.

What does this mean for businesses?

This report was very clear in its findings. Almost every factor made a significant difference to those in the top and bottom quartiles, sometimes as much as 50%.  This large variation can be explained by the fact that some companies are involving their employees in decision-making, giving them quality feedback and creating an environment in which workers help each other.

This isn’t just a question of personal and professional fulfilment: better EX policies make a substantial difference to work performance and cut down the costs on recruitment. Put simply, good EX makes better business sense.


For more Employee Experience stories, click here

Entries for the UK Employee Experience Awards 2020 will open shortly. In the meantime, book your seats the UK Customer Experience Awards and UK Business Awards








Thomas FairbairnSeptember 3, 20192min61420

Worksmart sponsor We are pleased to announce that Worksmart will be a Silver Sponsor at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020.

“Worksmart have built their reputation by supporting the UK’s leading financial service businesses through the challenges of regulatory compliance,” Julie Pardy, Director of Regulation and Market Engagement, explained. “From Training & Competence to Quality Assurance, SM&CR to Complaints Management, we enable smarter business responses.”

Commenting on news of the announcement, Pardy said:

We’re delighted to be a sponsor at the UK Complaint Handling Awards as it promotes best practice in complaint handling. Our complaints product, Caresmart, helps companies resolve complaints compliantly and in a way which ensures the best possible chance of retaining the relationship with the customer for the future. As such, sponsoring these awards is the right thing to do.

They join a list of sponsors that includes the Customer Experience Magazine, Professor Malcolm McDonald, the Cranfield School of Management, and our charity partner Barnardo’s.

We look forward to seeing Worksmart at the UK Complaint Handling Awards on 5th March 2020.

You have until Friday 18th October to save £100 with the early bird deal – enter today! 

For more details on sponsoring our events, click here


Thomas FairbairnSeptember 3, 20197min44720

Awards Presentation - Customer Experience Awards

Picture the scene: you’ve crafted a compelling written entry. You’ve outlined your initiative well. But everything is still to play for – half your scores will come from your presentation on the day of the Awards Finals.

You’re looking for that winning edge, a way of differentiating yourself from your competition.

At Awards International, a great presentation comes down to two things. At its core, there needs to be a compelling business case; your initiative must have been successful. No amount of flashy presentation skills will be able to hide that from the judging panel.

But it also needs to be memorable and well-articulated.

We’ve seen some great presentations over the years. And we want to share what we’ve learned.


Don’t clutter the slides with text

Things have definitely got better over the years, but some presentations are still guilty of text clutter. Worst of all, we occasionally see presenters reading off the PowerPoint! That is a complete turn-off: it means you’re turning away from the judging panel, and you’re not telling them anything they can’t already read for themselves. Remember: the human brain can process images much faster than text, so using well-selected images can help create a much quicker impression than a paragraph of text.

The slides are there to supplement your presentation. Include the essential points of your initiative, as well as the most important pieces of evidence that substantiate your claims. This leaves room for your presentation to elaborate, providing the fine-tuned analysis that really brings your initiative to life.


Practice it. Then do it again.

Awards Presentation - Practice Your Story The most iconic presentations of modern times – think Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch in 2007 – were rehearsed over several weeks until the speaker could deliver it flawlessly without notes. You don’t necessarily have to do this, though it will benefit your presentation if you do.

Just because you’ve written the text of your speech, that doesn’t mean you’ve finished. You want to have enough confidence in your material to look up from your notes and make eye contact with the judges. That way, your enthusiasm will be much more evident.

Like anything, practice makes perfect.

Tell a story

We are hard-wired to respond to stories. Not only are they more enjoyable than pure information – they make things more memorable too.

Your business has launched an initiative; that means you have a story to tell. You have to locate the initiative in your own company story, and explain how it took your organisation where you wanted to go.

A story doesn’t have to feature romance or revenge to be effective – it just needs to set the scene, develop, then resolve. If you describe your company initiative as a journey, you’re taking the judges on that journey with you. And they’ll remember a lot more of the details when it comes to scoring your presentation.


Address all the criteria, but avoid a plodding approach

Awards Presentation - Address the Criteria It’s essential that you cover all the aspects of the Scoring of Entries document.

That’s what the judges will be using to assess you, so you must give each section proper consideration. There’s nothing wrong with structuring your presentation around each of these criteria: beginning with Business Strategy, moving on to Goals and Objectives, and so on. But your presentation should be greater than the sum of its parts. It shouldn’t just address each criterion, then move on with no attempt to link. The judges, understandably, will view this approach as somewhat pedestrian, and your scores may suffer as a result.

Linking between sections, showing how one leads to another on your company journey, is going to be much more memorable in their minds.


Seek out expert advice

At Awards International, we want every organisation to have the chance to succeed. That’s why, for many years, we’ve been teaming up with Donna O’Toole from August Awards Consultancy. She’s helped hundreds of businesses to realise their potential and get the recognition they deserve, and she’ll be hosting a variety of webinars over the next month. They are:

5th September: How to Create a World Class Awards Presentation (Customer Experience Awards) 

17th September: How to Write a World Class Awards Entry (UK Complaint Handling Awards)

1st October: How to Create a World Class Awards Presentation (UK Business Awards)

We hope you can join these webinars and learn from the very best!


To view Open Presentations and share best practice, book your tickets for the UK Customer Experience Awards and UK Business Awards.

For more Awards International advice, here’s our article on Awards Entry Mistakes.





Thomas FairbairnAugust 21, 20193min22850

On 21st November, we’re holding the second International Customer Experience Awards (ICXA), and we’ve just confirmed our venue!

The event will be held at the Novotel Amsterdam City Hotel in – you guessed it! – Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is the perfect location to host these Awards. It is famous worldwide for its history of trade, and for its Amsterdam Zuid business district, where the ICXA will be held.

The location could not be better – for all our international guests, it’s a 15-minute journey from Schipol International Airport, and a five-minute walk from Amsterdam RAI station. From downtown Amsterdam, it’s just 20 minutes on the Metro.

Located a stone’s throw from the Amstelpark, it has outstanding conferencing facilities, ideally suited to our unique requirements. We have booked 17 meeting rooms and have also booked the capacious ballroom, which can seat up to 500 people for the Awards ceremony and gala dinner in the evening.


Celebrating International Customer Experience

This year, we’re welcoming representatives from 67 companies to the ICXA – a 30% increase on last year.

Our guest can expect to enjoy:

  • A full-day event: Finalists present their initiatives throughout the day, then enjoy a three-course dinner and Awards ceremony in the evening.
  • Open presentations: many companies allow others to sit in on their presentations, meaning you can see how top companies are approaching customer experience.
  • Networking opportunities with CX professionals from all over the world.
  • The fairest Awards: every Finalist receives a detailed feedback report after the event, containing their scores and how they compared to others in their category.

Sponsorship Opportunities

We’re still accepting offers to sponsor the Awards. This is the perfect way to raise your organisation’s profile on a global scale, while associating your brand with outstanding achievements in customer experience. To find out more about the various ways you can get involved, please contact Aleksandar Ilic on 02032860544 or email

We’re really looking forward to November, and we can’t wait to see you there!

To book your table at the International Customer Experience Awards, click here

For more customer experience stories from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnAugust 21, 20194min19240

Stakeholder CapitalismAt Awards International, we’ve always believed in the importance of customer and employee experience. That’s why we organise the UK’s biggest Customer Experience Awards and the Employee Experience Awards.

We believe this approach to business benefits everyone, providing customers with better service, employees with better jobs, and ultimately leading to better commercial results.

So we were pleased to see the announcement from America’s top CEOs, the Business Roundtable, that companies should aim for more than just pleasing their shareholders.

Leaders from some of the biggest US companies, including Amazon, Apple, Walmart and IBM, signed a statement committing themselves to this approach. In this year’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, they outlined their vision:


While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders. We commit to:

  • Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
  • Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
  • Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
  • Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.

Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.

A better way

Stakeholder Capitalism - UK Customer Experience Awards

This announcement is a recognition of the changes in business culture over the past decade. As JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon put it, ‘major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.’

At Awards International, we welcome these changes, but it’s nothing we haven’t been saying for the last ten years! We’re glad that the world’s biggest companies have finally caught on.




To book your table for the UK Customer Experience Awards, click here

For more stories on customer, digital and employee experience, click here




Thomas FairbairnAugust 21, 20192min23860

At Awards International, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a visit from Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday morning.


Jeremy Corbyn Awards International
Awards International CEO Neil Skehel with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn


Visiting our offices at Stevenage’s Business and Technology Centre (btc), the Labour leader came to discuss a range of issues: public investment in SMEs, a ‘green industrial revolution’ and his party’s position on Brexit.

He took questions from a range of business leaders, including our very own Neil Skehel. In particular, Corbyn stressed his commitment to creating 400,000 new jobs in the fight against climate change, increased funding for early-years education and a public bank to fund startups.

It was good to see an MP visiting us and putting the summer recess to good use – rather than chillaxing in Tuscany!





Jeremy Corbyn Awards International


Corbyn was joined by the Leader of the Stevenage Council, Sharon Taylor, and Jill Borchereds, Labour’s candidate for the Stevenage constituency.

We would welcome a visit from the sitting Conservative MP, Stephen McPartland, to hear his side of the story! Who knows, maybe Boris Johnson will show up one day…

We are currently accepting entries for the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020 – enter now

For more news, insight and analysis, check out our other articles





Thomas FairbairnAugust 7, 20196min24690

At Awards International, the integrity and transparency of our judging process is extremely important. It’s why the Independent Awards Standards Council has consistently accredited us with the Gold Standard Awards Trust Mark.

We believe that Finalists want a fair competition, in which the strength of their initiative – not the depth of their pockets – determines the winner.

So let’s take a look at the top 4 reasons that customers can have confidence in our judging process.


1. Our judges are independent

To assess the written entries and presentations, we rely on teams of independent professionals from a diverse range of business backgrounds. They are not employed by Awards International, and have no association with the day-to-day running of the company.

It’s scandalous to think that, at other awards, the judges sometimes work for the company organising the awards! What’s to stop them favouring a bigger client? Commercial pressures will inevitably lead to conflicts of interest, which is why we keep both worlds apart.

Our judges have always been independent, and they always will be.




2. They assess each entry thoroughly

Entrants want to have confidence that judges take the time to read their entry. But the structure of other awards programmes makes this much more difficult.

Let’s take the Engage Awards as an example. They have 21 judges assessing entries over 20 categories. Let’s say they receive 500 entries, and each one takes half an hour to read and score.

That’s 250 hours of judging. Each. Do these judges take the time to assess each entry with the thoroughness it deserves?

This is why Awards International events have a different judging panel for each category. On average, 5 judges will assess 6 entries. Assuming they spend half an hour, each judge has 3 hours to score the written entries – far more manageable for someone with a full-time job.

Presentations on the day of the Awards also count for 50% of the final score. Each presentation is 40 minutes in total – 15 minutes for the presentation, 15 minutes for questions and 10 minutes for scoring. So the overall time a judge spends on an entry is more than an hour.



3. The judges don’t confer

In those 10 minutes of scoring, judges don’t discuss the presentations with each other – they simply write down the scores for each criterion.

The same goes for the written entries – the judges assess these without conferring.

We do things this way because we value our judges for their individual business expertise. In a team environment, particularly a team of 5 or 6, it’s quite common for someone to dominate the conversation and skew the judging outcome towards their preferences. We’d much rather get each judge’s score, then compile the scores separately.

In fact, the chair of each judging panel doesn’t know the winner of the category until a minute before they announce it on stage!



4. The process is transparent

Our judging decisions don’t take place behind closed doors. Most of our presentations are open to other Finalists and attendees, enabling them to learn from the latest and greatest ideas in their field of interest. This also keeps the process honest and accountable.

Because we want every entrant to have the chance to do well, the judging criteria for all our Awards are available online.

And since it’s frustrating not to know why you won or lost, every Finalist receives a personalised feedback report after the Awards. It contains their scores, as well as how they compared to others in their category.


To be fair…

We keep everything above board – we owe it to our customers.

The background of our judges and the nature of the judging process are independent.

And we keep the ratio of judges to entrants sensible, so that every entry is assessed thoroughly.

Fairness is integral to what we do. Enter our Awards and you’ll see for yourself!



We’re currently accepting bookings for the UK Customer Experience Awards and UK Business Awards

The UK Complaint Handling Awards 2020 is also open for entries – enter now

And for more news, comment and insight, check out the Awards International website




Thomas FairbairnAugust 6, 20195min46380

We’re delighted to announce the full list of companies that will be speaking at this year’s Winning With Complaint Handling Conference. 

These six companies all won at the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2019, and they’ll be bringing their award-winning expertise to this event. Each company will speak for 15 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of questions. 

Book your ticket now!

Here’s what lies in store.




Companies Announced: Capita The outsourcing and professional services firm won in the Customer Relations and Remediation category at this year’s Awards, and their presentation will discuss the use of cutting-edge analytics to find swift, effective solutions to remediation problems.



Three UK 


Winners of Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year, Three UK will discuss the importance of ‘complaint handling heroes who work consistently to raise standards and provide outstanding customer service.’ 

Focusing on how their people-centric culture is helping them become the UK’s best-loved brand by 2022, Three UK’s presentation is not to be missed. 





One of the world’s largest banks, HSBC won this year in the Product & Service Improvement Category. They will focus on fixing the root causes of complaints, and how this preventative approach helped them reduce complaints by 70%.



United Utilities


As managers of the water and wastewater networks in North West England, United Utilities impressed the judges in the Most Improved Complaint Handling – Customer Centric category. 

The presentation will give insights into their Service Recovery team, whose proactive attitude, quick response and willingness to learn help United Utilities turn their complaint handling strategy around. 



Vitality Health


The medical insurer was the Gold Winner in the Complaint Management Process (B2C) category. 

They will discuss how they incorporated customer feedback into improved complaint handling, and how they transformed their organisational culture to be more customer centric.






As Gold Winners in Customer Insight Strategy, Firstsource will share their technological expertise and discuss their partnership with NOW TV. In particular, they will focus on the innovative speech and text analytics they used to gain more precise customer insights. 




Each of these companies brings something unique to the conference; together, they give a comprehensive picture of dealing with customer complaints in 2019. 

At the conference, you can also look forward to:

  • A fully interactive experience – vote on conversation topics and put questions to the panellists using the Slido app.
  • Ample opportunities for networking throughout the day, with four short breaks and one longer break for brunch.
  • Attendees from a variety of economic sectors.

This promises to be a very special event. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Winning With Complaint Handling Conference is on 25th September. Book your tickets here

For more customer service stories from Awards International, click here



Thomas FairbairnAugust 6, 20195min49510

For CX professionals, customer experience transformation can be a real challenge. Changing culture on such a large scale can be like steering an enormous ocean liner, and even the best-made plans take time to implement.

That’s why it’s so important to remind yourself of success stories – companies that prioritised the customer experience and achieved great business results.

This is our top 3.


Customer Experience Transformation 1 – Microsoft

Customer Experience Transformation - MicrosoftBack in the 90s, it seemed nothing could stop Microsoft taking over the world. But as the new millennium dawned, the tech giant seemed to be losing ground. For more than a decade, its stock price didn’t rise beyond its 1999 peak.

Then, in 2014, Satya Nadella became CEO. His priority was to establish Microsoft as a trusted partner in B2B cloud networking systems. And it was a success – by focusing on customer relationships rather than being some faceless corporation, Microsoft earned the trust of the business community. This year, Microsoft stock reached an all-time high.

If one of the world’s largest companies can re-orientate its business model towards customer-centricity, anything is possible!



Customer Experience Transformation 2 – Paymentsense

Customer Experience Transformation - PaymentsensePaymentsense is a card processing company seeking to disrupt the payments market. Realising that CX was where they could out-compete their rivals, they enacted policies that delivered from a customer perspective.

One was 24/7 contact centres. The modern UK economy doesn’t shut down at 5pm, so call centres shouldn’t either. And for non-banking clients, they guarantee setup in three days or less.

Integrating the customer strategy into the overall growth strategy took around 18 months – and the process is ongoing. But the results speak for themselves – customer growth was 19%, revenue grew 18% and profits rose 11%.

These impressive achievements meant recognition for Paymentsense at last year’s UK Customer Experience Awards, when they won in the Transforming the Customer Experience category.


Book your seats at the UK Customer Experience Awards today!


Customer Experience Transformation 3 – Timberland

Customer Experience Transformation - TimberlandThe fashion retailer wanted to create a more personalised experience for their customers, and they achieved this transformation using near-field communication technology.

Although this technology can be used for ecommerce, Timberland opted to do something different – use it for product information. Shoppers receive a tablet in-store, which they can press against products to bring up key details on a clothing item. As customers browse the store, personalisation software on the tablet means the customer receives more targeted recommendations.

Staff members in clothing stores can be helpful, but a sizeable number of customers want to shop without being disturbed. This app is perfect for them – it gives them all the information they need whilst allowing them to browse in peace. And if they do want to speak to a member of staff, that’s still possible.

Amongst other policies, this CX transformation has led to impressive business results – Timberland’s share price is more than double its 2014 level.



Each of these stories can teach us something about customer experience. In a B2B environment, it’s all about establishing strong customer relationships through dedication to their commercial needs. You have to understand customer priorities and work to them – not the other way around. And you need to deliver a personalised experience that gives each customer the specific information and assistance they need.

We’re still taking bookings for the UK Customer Experience Awards. Join the UK’s biggest celebration of CX today! 

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


Awards InternationalJuly 18, 20195min42400

Price Factor E-Commerce - Homo Oeconomicus In the world of sales and marketing, cost often represents the bottom line. Businesses of all sizes are all trying to cut in-house expenditures in the hopes that their return on investment will be higher. Although this might appear to make perfect sense from a purely financial point of view, let us always remember that you get what you pay for. This is even more relevant when discussing e-commerce platforms. How can you balance cost-effective solutions with an application that will produce viable long-term results? What if your enterprise is on a budget? Will you be able to encounter more fiscally reasonable alternatives to Magento Enterprise and similar third-party hosts? Each of these questions deserves to be briefly placed into the digital spotlight so that you can possess the knowledge to make an informed decision.

Why price is no longer the bottom line: long-term return on investment

Some business owners will focus entirely on the up-front costs associated with an e-commerce provider. This tends to be a slight mistake, as they fail to take into account the long-term ROI that can be expected. In many instances, any initial financial outlay will be dramatically offset by profits that may result in the future.

However, it is just as important to balance the price of a package with its innate sense of functionality. This is even more relevant when we consider the fact that software as a service (SaaS) has taken the online business community by storm. Here are a handful of questions which should always be asked before committing to any type of contract:

  • What type of uptime can you expect from the provider?
  • Can this software be integrated into your legacy systems?
  • Are you provided with a user-friendly edge or will you be required to learn a great deal of complicated coding?

This last question is particularly relevant, as some providers such as Magento have been engineered for developers as opposed to the average business owner or digital marketing specialist.


Obtaining a clear perspective

Price Factor E-Commerce - The Scales of Justice You should also place a great deal of effort into obtaining an objective perspective with regards to the service provider in question. Do not rely solely upon their claims (never forget that they are trying to sell a product). Scour the online community for reviews. Take a look at any testimonials that the e-commerce solution may offer. Has the firm received a fair amount of negative feedback and if so, does it appear to be justified? Making a sound decision should always take into account what others have had to say about their personal experiences.

It should now be abundantly clear that cost is not the only factor to address when choosing the best e-commerce provider for your business. Although you will still have to meet certain budgetary constraints, moderately priced packages tend to deliver the most sustainable results. So, be sure to compare and contrast the largest names in the industry so that you can make the appropriate decision.


For more business stories from Awards International, click here


Thomas FairbairnJuly 15, 20198min52580

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 FairbairnJuly 11, 20198min101890

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 FairbairnJuly 10, 20193min41310

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







Thomas FairbairnMay 16, 20196min19020

Yesterday was the biggest and most successful UK Employee Experience Awards to date!

There was a buoyant mood in the air as business professionals came together to present their initiatives and celebrate the advances made in employee experience this year, and the standard of entries was exceptionally high.


Special mention goes to The Holly Private Hospital, who won gold awards in four categories and the Overall Winner prize for the highest-scoring individual entry. Octopus Energy and Brighterkind also performed strongly, winning two golds each. 

To see the full list of winners, click here.

The event itself stressed the importance of employee experience across sectors. With awards going to organisations ranging from dating apps to government agencies, it was a real chance to attain meaningful new EX perspectives. 

Thanks to the generosity of everyone in attendance, we also smashed our EXA charity raffle record by raising £3600 for Barnardo’s.

Hosted by Clare McDonnell, who praised the finalists for increasing employee-centrism in business, we enjoyed a keynote speech from Ben Whitter (a.k.a Mr Employee Experience) and surprise musical entertainment from The Three Waiters.

All in all, it was a fantastic event.

We look forward to seeing you there next year!



Thomas FairbairnMay 3, 20197min40980

How to Write a Good Survey Question: Top TipsBad surveys are dangerous. If you ask the wrong things, or ask them the wrong way, you’ll get a distorted data set that gives an inaccurate impression of your customers.

On the other hand, if you can enthuse your customers and get them to participate in short, targeted, well-constructed surveys, you’ll build up a formidable knowledge of your customer base and tailor your strategy to serve them better.

But how do you craft that perfect question?




1. Start with the easy questions

You need to put the customer at ease. A couple of simple introductory questions means the customer will relax and be more inclined to answer more complex questions.


2. Less is more

Survey fatigue is real. Always remember that your survey isn’t the only one your customer answers. Many do want to help – but they haven’t got all day. Since their time is precious, don’t waste it with unnecessary questions – keep refining your list of questions until only relevant, actionable ones remain. 

The last thing you want is ‘straightlining‘ – when customers are so fed up with a survey that they give the same answer to everything. It’s much better to have 5 genuine answers than 25 rushed and inaccurate ones.


3. Don’t use ambiguous phrasing

Let’s say I ask: Do you think your car is a pleasant drive?

There’s a couple of things wrong here. In this context, you can interpret the word ‘think’ in a couple of ways – some will think it’s asking for their opinion, whereas others might suppose you’re asking whether they think or know.

‘Pleasant drive’ is also ambiguous – is it referring to the car being good to drive, or the act of driving in the car?

You could improve this question by saying: Is your car pleasant to drive?


4. Don’t you agree that leading questions are terrible?

How to Write a Good Survey Question: Come again?


Ambiguity is normally accidental; leading questions can be too, but they’re also the consequence of unconscious bias. If you don’t stay alert to the dangers of leading questions, you might skew your survey by framing everything so the company looks good . It might massage the ego, but it won’t enable you to help your customers.



5. Read the question out loud

When you read things back in your head, clunky phrasing isn’t always clear. It’s a good idea to read your questions out loud and make sure they sound natural. You want questions that ask the right thing in the right way, and lead to accurate answers from your customers.


6. Put each question in its proper context

You can’t expect your customers to know as much about your business as you do. If there’s important information they need in order to answer, give them that context.

You also need to think about the flow of your survey – structuring it around the touchpoints of your customer journey is often a good approach – so that each question leads on naturally from the last.


7. Test the survey and refine your questions

Your team will have fantastic ideas, but you need to get an outside perspective on it.

A focus group can advise you on phrasing, context, bias, and anything else that’s preventing the answers from being reliable. You can use this feedback to refine your survey strategy going forward.

It’s also worth including an optional box on your surveys when they actually go live, asking your customers for any suggestions.


8. Let customers know how you’re using the survey information

What would you rather hear?

Do you have 5 minutes to answer some questions about our products?


Can you spare 5 minutes to help improve our products with your valuable feedback?

That makes a customer more inclined – if they believe engaging with the survey will improve their own customer experience. Within the survey itself, you can give more precise indications about how the feedback will be used.


How to write a good survey question: overall advice

Ultimately, you’re looking to capture an accurate impression of your customers’ opinions. This means using neutral, natural language that elicits honest, useful answers.

Check yourself for unconscious biases, and ask for outside perspectives on this as well.

It can be a tricky balancing act, but as long as you’re clear what you want to understand, and your questions help you with that purpose, you can get really accurate feedback that allows for continuous improvements in customer experience.


Has your company done a fantastic job with surveys in the past year? If so,  enter the UK Customer Experience Awards today!





Thomas FairbairnApril 30, 201910min32370

There’s been a great deal of focus on customer experience in recent years, and rightly so. Smart CX strategies are helping to transform businesses and unlock their true potential.

As the science of customer experience continues to grow in sophistication, companies of all shapes and sizes have been reevaluating their strategies.

This isn’t just about priorities or values: it’s about the systems that ensure your business delivers an outstanding experience for your customer at every stage of their journey.

However, it’s absolutely vital to remember that customer experience does not exist in isolation, as some offshoot of HR. In fact, it’s about bringing all aspects of the business together to re-orientate their efforts around what is good for the customer.

For that reason, employee experience is absolutely integral to customer experience.

Head out of the Cubicle

Employee and User Experience - get out of your cubicle!

Unfortunately, a lot of employees still approach their work in a compartmentalised fashion: I must do this task and make the number go in the right direction.

They don’t always see the bigger picture, and that’s not their fault. Most of the time, they’ve been trained to focus on a specific metric, and they consider their job to be hitting those targets.

Once a company decides to move towards customer-centricity, however, one thing becomes clear: your employees are your greatest asset, and the key to realising any CX strategy.

This is just common sense: staff that are motivated, empowered and happy with their jobs can become your brand ambassadors.

On the other hand, if you treat your employees like numbers, don’t be surprised when they act like robots.

The Evidence

Empowering your staff and creating great employee experience sounds good in theory, but what is the evidence backing up the link between CX and EX?

A Gallup poll offers a striking statistic: companies with highly engaged employees outperform competitors by 147%

And research from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that productivity in organisations with connected employees tends to improve by 20-25%.

Summing up the research on this issue, Richard Mosley says the EX/CX link is ‘further reinforced by the numerous studies that have identified a strong correlation between satisfied employees, satisfied customers and positive business results, generally referred to as the service profit chain.’


Who Does it Best?

Employee and Customer Experience - the Godfather

Some businesses have understood this principle for a long time, and they’ve spent years enabling their employees to make decisions for the benefit of the customer.

Richard Branson was an early adherent. He famously said: ‘if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’

But who else delivers outstanding customer experience as a result of a contented, proactive workforce?

Let’s take a look.




This Finnish company produces mobile video games, and generates over $2 billion in sales a year despite having just over 200 employees.

The secret to this success, according to CEO Ilkka Paananen, is allowing each team a great deal of autonomy, thereby developing their own decision-making skills. Paananen says his goal is ‘ to be the world’s least powerful CEO. What I mean by this is that the fewer decisions I make, the more the teams are making. In a dream scenario that means the team is making all the decisions.’



A global leader in CRM and other software, Salesforce have created a loyal and passionate workplace culture.

Jody Kohner, Senior Vice President of Employee Marketing and Engagement, has shared some pearls of wisdom about how employee experience is great for business.

Beyond the product or service on offer, Kohner is convinced that customers ‘didn’t really care what else was out there; they wanted the energy of our people brought to their company.’

When it comes to Salesforce’s success, Kohner says: ‘we don’t take it for granted. We write it down, we prioritise it, measure it and hold ourselves accountable for it. We’ve found if everyone is aligned, we have 30,000 champions of this culture and it fuels itself.’



Customer and User Experience - Bidfood

One of the UK’s leading foodservice providers, Bidfood were the Overall Winners at last year’s UK Employee Experience Awards.

The first main reason for this was their ability to spread values through the organisation effectively. Bidfood streamlined their in-house values into the catchy expression – Care, Share, Dare – which they integrated into all training materials. This enabled them to spread these empowering ideas through the company.

As part of this, employees were encouraged to share their ideas with management, with over 10% of the workforce taking part. Every suggestion was taken forward in some way, and Bidfood have said this helped them stay ahead of their five-year financial plan.




Two Sides of the Same Coin

What do these businesses have in common?

They all realise that there’s no inherent tension between treating employees well and getting fantastic business results. In fact, your employees are the ones who will help you reach those goals. 

All these companies have clear sets of values which employees are acutely aware of, and enhance their decision making by having engaged staff members who believe in the business and want to share ideas to improve it. In short, they treat employee and customer experience as two sides of the same coin.

In the current business climate, customer experience is the best differentiation between brands; people are most likely to remember how an interaction with a business made them feel, and decide about repeat business based on that.

To succeed, you need people on the front-line who make your customers feel great. And the employees that can do this are the ones that feel valued, motivated and whose companies respect and act on their ideas.


If you have an inspiring customer or employee experience initiative that deserves recognition, enter the UK Customer Experience Awards now!


Thomas FairbairnApril 9, 20199min46610

This is the first in our series of articles about International Customer Experience. 

The International Customer Experience Awards will be held in Amsterdam on 21st November – enter now!


As John Travolta says of other cultures at the beginning of Pulp Fiction: ‘It’s the little differences.’

Customer Experience Worldwide - All around the globe

This quote is a great way of summing up cultural disparity. You see, we tend to think that human cultures are more distinct than they actually are. But when it comes to the most fundamental things, we’re actually pretty similar. Most people just want a good life for themselves and their families.

On top of those fundamentals, however, are a whole range of acquired practices and shared principles we call ‘culture’.

We often take these eccentricities for granted when we’re surrounded by people from our own society – it’s only when we travel abroad or meet people from other countries that we realise how many of our practices are learned rather than innate.

International Customer Experience professionals need to be aware of these differences as well as the similarities. As globalisation continues apace and multinationals keep expanding into new markets, you may need to tailor your CX approach to the precise cultural needs of any given country.

This series of articles aims to shine a light on how ideas of customer service vary across the world. And so we begin with the example of the Netherlands, the birthplace of modern capitalism and home of the International Customer Experience Awards.


The Netherlands: Culture as History

To understand a country’s culture, you have to know its history. Where else do you think traditions come from?

It’s impossible to sum up the nuances of a nation’s history in a short blog post, so what follows are some very general statements about how the history of the Netherlands has impacted its culture.

The religious conflicts of the Reformation profoundly shaped the identity of the modern Netherlands. Though many Dutch people aren’t religious today, the legacy of Protestantism – and in particular Calvinism – looms large over the national psyche. Some of the traits typically associated with Calvinism are moderation, honesty and individual responsibility.

As one of the first modern republics, achieving independence by throwing off the autocracy of the Spanish Crown, the Dutch have a long history of egalitarianism. They tend to believe that success and social status comes from dedication and talent rather than birthright. As such, it’s considered pompous to advertise your credentials when you speak to someone.

There is also a reputation for ‘bluntness’ or ‘directness’ in the Dutch culture –  but I think that’s slightly misplaced. The root motivation is not to be blunt or rude. In fact, the main motivation is to avoid waste – another aspect of Calvinist thought that has diffused throughout the culture of the Netherlands. Being polite just to avoid mentioning the truth is considered wasteful – and the Dutch would much rather just get to the point and get on with business. This desire not to waste time also means minimal levels of small talk in meetings.

Dutch CX – Contradicting a Client

As we’ve seen, self-sufficiency and egalitarianism are important elements of Dutch culture. But what does this mean for customer experience?

Well –  let’s look at an example of how the British and Dutch might treat an encounter with a client differently.


Client: Did you know that Apple is actually bigger than the US Government?

Vendor: Really? How interesting (internally - this is false)


Client: Did you know that Apple is actually bigger than the US Government?

Vendor: That is incorrect. Apple is one of the largest companies in the world but it's nowhere near as big as the US Government. 

The main point is this: contradicting a client is generally more acceptable in the Netherlands than it is in the UK.

This stems from their egalitarian culture. Whereas businesses in the Anglosphere tend to put clients on a pedestal, avoiding offending them at all costs, the Dutch perceive it differently. To them, it’s a negotiation between equals, so the usual rules of social interaction apply – and that includes contradiction.

The crucial difference is that a Dutch client would probably not consider it rude to be contradicted in this way.


Customer Experience Worldwide - Dutch Canal

Dutch CX – Personalisation

A major study of Dutch customer experience by KPMG revealed another aspect of the service culture – personalisation.

This perhaps relates to a cultural trait like self-sufficiency. The Dutch, broadly speaking, like to be the masters of their own private worlds. They respect the differences of others, but in return, they expect to be respected as an individual.

So when they’re interacting with a business, the Dutch would like to see the message tailored to them as much as possible – as it’s a reflection of their individuality within a pluralistic society.

International Customer Experience – Conclusion

Businesses from the Anglosphere should bear these differences in mind when doing business in the Netherlands, and foreign customers living in the Netherlands should know what to expect!

So much of our understanding of other cultures is shaped by the language we use. It’s fairly common for the English to describe the Dutch as ‘blunt’, but how many people in the Netherlands would use that description for themselves? After all, one man’s ‘blunt’ is another’s ‘honest’.

What matters for CX professionals is knowing the intricacies of a cultural system well, and working effectively within that.


We’d love to hear back from any Dutch professionals about this article. Are there any other aspects of Dutch CX culture you want to share with us?

And if you’d like to enter the International Customer Experience Awards, you can do so here.