• Smiles Cost Nothing

    This week saw the 2011 WOW! Awards gala final. There were small businesses competing with international organisations in an effort to have their customer service excellence recognised by the biggest not for profit customer service organisation - The WOW! Awards.

    The WOW! Awards have been going since x and work with companies such as Cadburys, Scottish Power, Richer Sounds and smaller businesses such as Mayburys Chemist in South Wales. The idea idea is that organisations purchase a licence and customers are given the opportunity to thank employees for the service that they are given. The process has proved to be hugely popular with some amazing stories of people going out of their way to help customers and deliver a top quality service.

    Policing has been involved in the WOW! Awards since Merseyside Police joined in 2007. Since then Durham, West Yorkshire, Dyfed Powys, Green Bay (Wisconsin) and Peabody (Illinois) have joined with a further three UK forces asking for further information. The ideal situation in respect of policing seems to be to build the process into a community policing or citizen focus strategy that is aimed at increasing levels of satisfaction and confidence. The process seems to work in policing for two reasons. First the police like the fact that the awards are independent. In other words the police force cannot interfere with the recognition being given to specific officers or teams. Second, they enjoy the opportunity to discuss their day to day work with senior officers as they at presented with their certificates.

    The gala awards have been dominated by police forces over the last two years and this year was no exception. Green Bay won the international award and Durham Police, who were nominated in three categories, were highly commended by the judges. Over 250 people attended the event and witnessed the level of customer care given to the public by the police. This number will increase greatly once the video of the event hits the Internet and comments from the #wowgala Twitter feed start to worm their way through the social media network.

    Of course there are sceptics who see the WOW! Awards as a luxury item that cannot be afforded in these austere times. However, this issue is answered by one Chief Constable who asked what we do with the people who are left post austerity? They need to be motivated to continue to deliver the highest possible service. The issue seems to be that police officers of all ranks, roles, PCSOs and police staff deserve recognition for those times that they go out of their way to ensure customer service excellence or the delivery of a consistently high standard of service excellence.

    However, if you are still not convinced that the WOW! Awards can play an important role in community policing, satisfaction and confidence, then I challenge you to watch the short film attached to this link and not feel moved by the stories from the guy whose grandson committed suicide in his house or the lady talking about how a police officer recovered money stolen from a disabled man. The officer may say that 'they were just doing their job'. Indeed they were, but someone just wanted to be able to say 'thanks.'

    I wonder how proud the Chief Officers and people of Green Bay and Durham are that their force has received national recognition for their customer service? Finally - I think that the comment from one lady is perhaps the best moment of all - 'smiles cost nothing.'

    The video can be viewed here: - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYPloEXCE9g&feature=feedu

    Further information on the not for profit WOW! Awards is avialable here http://www.thewowawards.co.uk/

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