We are delighted to be finalists in the Customer Care category for the Suffolk Business Awards 2019! Did we go on to win at the glitzy award ceremony on 4 July? Keep reading to find out!
After the buzz and excitement of getting whittled down to the final four from over 100 entries, we’ve decided to share our secret. This blog explains how Best of Suffolk became a finalist by doing just one thing…
The Customer Care Award Application
When we started to write the application, our team of 12 got together in one of our weekly ‘huddles’ where we normally share best practice. We devoted a huddle to the customer care award application, breaking into teams across every department. We drew up a comprehensive list of customer-driven initiatives both newly introduced and that we do as standard. A flip chart containing eight pages of customer-orientated ‘gold’ later and it was clear that we place customer care at the centre of our thinking, and that this was the award for us.
The Customer Journey
“So what did the flipchart brainstorming huddle come up with?” we hear you cry! Well, a Best of Suffolk customer has a journey that interacts with almost every member of staff and across several stages of their ‘transaction’. So in our application we took the judges on our customers’ journey; from discovering Best of Suffolk to making an enquiry or booking, their arrival, service during their stay (the good and the handling of rare service problems) and finally finishing with what happens when they return home.
One thing is clear for our customers; the journey starts with understanding that Best of Suffolk represents consistent quality of both product and service from day one.
Our Core Values
So, not a standard application, perhaps. But one which we knew was right for us. We’ve recently been doing some work on what we consider to be Best of Suffolk’s core values. After another team exercise (as always with us – teamwork really does make the dream work!) where we identified three words that sum up what Best of Suffolk is all about. Innovative, Ambitious and Fun. These three values are at the core of all we do, so we had to make sure our application was all three!
The Nitty Gritty
Our whopping eight page application covered every aspect of customer care for a Best of Suffolk guest. Highlights including a 24 hour on call service, the public review service Feefo (which publishes customer reviews unedited) and our dedicated customer service team comprising Rebecca, Nicky and Leah.
Did we cover what happens when things don’t go to plan? Of course! With over 400 properties there are bound to be boilers that stop working, doors that jam and light bulbs that go – just think about your own home. What matters is how we manage these situations, and how we ensure the guest is happy. As a result, our application covered the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Judges Visit
Very excitingly, we got a call in early May from the lovely events team at Archant letting us know the amazingly good news – that we have made it into the top six entries for one of the most competitive categories, Customer Care. We were beyond delighted! What an achievement! And we knew if nothing else, we should be proud of that recognition alone. The call was also informing us of the impending ‘judges visit’, whereby two judges will visit our office, meet the team and discuss the application.
On the day of the visit, Best of Suffolk just did what we always do; we opened our doors and invited the judges in for a cup of coffee (our kettle is always on!). Jonathan Denby of Greater Anglia, and the category sponsor, and Lisa Foster, Magazine and Subscriptions Director at Archant asked us to bring the application to life by asking questions about what we do and why. This came naturally as customer care is always at the centre of our thinking, so no huge preparations were needed.
Making the top four
A tension-building three weeks later and we found out the amazing news…FINALISTS! Best of Suffolk had made it to the finalist stage. And we couldn’t be happier! What a recognition! Dinner jackets and ball gowns are being dusted off for the awards ceremony on 4 July, with the wonderful comedian Tom Allen, a face of Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo, acting as host.
So…what was the ONE thing we did to secure that top four finalists place?
Well, we’ve already told you! It wasn’t about making bold or dramatic changes to stand out from the crowd and impress the judges, it was merely taking the time to put down on paper what we do as standard thanks to our customer-centric approach.
And did you win the Customer Care category at the Suffolk Business Awards?
One word…No. Up against stiff competition from IPRS Health, Kingsfleet Wealth, and The Hearing Centre which are three wonderfully customer-centric companies. Do we mind? Of course we do! But this ambitious and innovative company will most certainly be applying again next year after such a wonderful recognition.