Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton hit the ethos of good service bang on the button. He said: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
1 Media Managers and Marshall Group of Companies
2 Anglian Water
3 Cambridge Business Travel
4 Chilford Hall Vineyard and Conference Centre and Wyboston Lakes Knowledge Centre
6 PSC (The Payroll Service Company)
7 Martin & Co
8 Conference Cambridge
9 Møller Centre
10 Abacus Hotels
The message shouldn’t really need reinforcing, regardless of which business sector you are in. And one would think that during a prolonged economic downturn, service standards would improve rather than diminish.
Sad to say, then, that more businesses have reported receiving unsatisfactory service from suppliers and peers in the last 12 months than at any time in the history of our ‘Honours.’
The cause seems fairly easy to track: Large numbers of redundancies have been made and less staff are doing more work in hundreds of local businesses. In many cases and across many sectors, quality has taken second place to getting a piece of work out of the door.
That could prove a fatal error of judgement if one applies Sam Walton’s mantra.
In the last 12 months we have sadly seen the return of the sales prevention officer – the sloppy employee with a bad phone manner or poor interpersonal skills; a ‘that’ll do’ attitude and an inability to realise that there are no road blocks whatsoever on the extra mile.
The problems caused by bad service doesn’t stop with an individual customer being disappointed and turned away for good; they tell family, friends and business associates. They might even post their angst as a blog on the worldwide web. It doesn’t take long for a hard-earned reputation to disintegrate to dust in a fiercely competitive marketplace.
Our ‘Service Providers’ rankings fete businesses that are the powers behind so many thrones in key areas of the local economy yet rarely receive the recognition their efforts deserve.
Media Managers, which features in top spot for the first time this year, is a prime example. For seven years the company has advised government and education bodies and all manner of corporate organisations on how to cost effectively leverage the power of the media.
Its media planning and buying consultancy services, and related marketing expertise, were extended from print to online with the formation of Digital Media Managers in 2008.
The highly personable, knowledgeable and livewire Alistair Wayne has built a fabulous business that knows how to listen, understand and put a focused strategy into action. They have saved clients big money and secured them targeted profile at the same time. Pure class.
Media Managers shares top spot with the evergreen Marshall Group of Companies, Cambridge’s largest industrial employer.
Marshall sets industry leading standards of service delivery across a range of sectors – aerospace, business aviation, vehicle engineering, car sales and more.
Taking a lead from exemplary group chairman, Sir Michael Marshall, everything the Marshall Group does, whether servicing your car or providing vital equipment for British Forces on the front line, comes with the same quality kitemark.
This is a company you can rely on 24/7 – and the standards are set from the very top of this superbly focused family firm.
Nothing Marshall Group does is divorced from its sense of community and what is right for staff, suppliers and end-customers. It’s a company that cares.
We’re delighted to shower similar plaudits on our second placed business Anglian Water – formerly much maligned and much misunderstood, as most utilities are.
Water is a precious commodity often taken for granted by a wasteful public. Anglian Water was named one of the top two water companies in England and Wales for the fourth year running in November. Ofwat, scored firms on the quality and security of their water supply, how they dealt with sewage, customer service and their impact on the environment: Anglian Water earned 418 points out of a maximum 438.
Anglian Water supplies the same amount of water a day as it did 20 years ago, despite having 20 per cent more customers – a fact due in part to its success in tackling leaks.
The company’s hard work has also seen customer complaints about water quality fall by almost 60 per cent over the last 10 years. Ofwat’s report also highlighted the work done by Anglian Water to solve problems in properties at risk from sewage flooding. They were singled out for praise having solved 141 more problems than they were funded for in the five years to 2010.
Anglian Water serves the driest region in the UK, with a growing population and large areas threatened by the likely effects of climate change. It’s service standards are to be cherished – rather like the commodity it delivers.
As the Cambridge technology and industrial communities become increasingly global – exporting more and also expanding physical operations into new territories – the need to get executives to different parts of the world as swiftly and cost-effectively as possible has become absolutely essential to hundreds of companies’ bottom lines.
Business travel has rightly leaped up the agendas of so many growing local companies and if they have any sense they will be talking to Cambridge Business Travel. Stuart Scott runs a superbly switched on and responsive business while founder William Burnett has an inside track knowledge of airlines, airports and their respective performances that can save local companies thousands of pounds a year as well as precious time. Make him your first call of 2011, then sit back and congratulate yourself as your staff and clients wonder at your productivity.
The leisure industry features large in our Honours. In an industry where good service should be part of the fabric, this has not always been the case.
Alimentum, the Hills Road, Cambridge restaurant, has been through hard times but has bounced back in spectacular fashion, winning a string of awards for its good food and superb ambience – a wonderful venue to entertain clients with utter confidence.
Brian Payton’s team at Wyboston Lakes Knowledge Centre earn a steady stream of plaudits from companies based there and organisations booking functions there. Allied to the excellence of the conference centre on this superb site, Wyboston Lakes has the measure of providing the backdrop and service to help companies grow or create the most productive and pleasant environment for a corporate event.
Chilford Hall Vineyard and Conference Centre is also benefiting from clued up management. Glen Mejias has a skilful and happy team at his fingertips and an upsurge in corporate business this year is a deserved reward for a high standard of service, astute marketing and an assured hand in providing the facilities and ambience companies demand for a range of events. The location is also one of the most versatile we have witnessed on our tours around Europe and beyond.
The magnificent Møller Centre at Churchill College in Cambridge; Abacus Hotels, which runs three gorgeous and uplifting establishments in Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Hunstanton; and Conference Cambridge which globally promotes the sumptuous Cambridge college venues, collectively helped put the region firmly back on the global map for events organisers.
Demonstrating that service is king regardless of the business sector in which you operate, our other high scorers in this category are Martin & Co and the Payroll Service Company (PSC).
Business Weekly receives regular tributes for Cambridge’s top lettings agency, Martin & Co. The Diggle brothers have fashioned a superb business model and landlords who don’t use this firm’s services for investment in property are missing a beat.
The management is knowledegable about every facet of the lettings market and utilises the latest technology to stay at the cutting edge of service delivery. It has been recruiting again recently – a healthy sign – and retains its position as a savvy, trend-setting Cambridge property player.
In these austere times we all want to get paid at the end of a long, hard month. And with companies increasingly recruiting internationally or sending staff to overseas offices, payroll issues can cause a massive headache.
PSC in Cambridge is the ultimate smooth operator. While keeping things simple for the client, it also generates comprehensive back-up information for constant reassurance. As an exercise in peace of mind it’s an absolute no brainer to put your payroll in the hands of PSC while you focus on building your business.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Michael Marshall, Marshall Group