Why it means so much...

LAST year I had the pleasure of accepting a Northern Star Business Award on behalf of the Thorpe Molloy team.

It had been six years since we last entered these awards and it was with trepidation we decided to participate once again.

Why the nerves?

Customer service is subjective. One person’s good experience can leave another person ambivalent.

But because our industry retains an outdated reputation for sales before service we decided to put how we differentiate ourselves to the test, and let the Northern Star judges decide how effective our customer service efforts really are.

Throughout 2016 we took a back to basics approach.

Recognising that there is always room for improvement we initiated a programme of actively listening to our customers.

We set ourselves the target of increasing responses to our online feedback questionnaires by 100% and, determined to stay connected to our clients, we aimed for 60% more meetings compared to the year before.

Entering the Northern Star awards didn’t drive our objective setting, but it did cause us to pause and review how far along we were to achieving our aims and how constructive the feedback process had been.

Respondents were very willing to share their thoughts and the feedback has driven debate and change in our business.

At the awards I was accompanied by some of the colleagues who have had to adapt to those business changes.

What struck me was their excitement as we waited for the announcement.

I’m sure they were all more nervous than me and if I’m honest, winning the award meant so much because it’s a reflection of their obvious investment in our business success.

After the announcement I was overwhelmed by the number of people who volunteered their congratulations, with even competitors sharing good wishes – and that meant a great deal too.

The atmosphere was so encouraging, reflective of the admiration we have for each other’s efforts and an appreciation of how vital it is that we support local business.

Winning the Northern Star Award for Excellence in Customer Service provided a platform for us to celebrate and communicate one of our key differentiators.

It also raised awareness of our presence and capabilities to the local business community, generated pride in my team and set customer service standards we are striving to surpass in 2017.