Decide who wins our Best Customer Service award

THE Leader Business Awards are back by popular demand and today we launch the voting for the Best Customer Service Award.

This year’s awards will be held in the Belmont Hotel on February 23 where the great and the good of the local business community will gather to celebrate the success of this year’s winners.

The categories will be judged by an independant panel of experts however we are opening both the Best Customer Service and Good Food awards to the public vote.

This week we are printing a shortlist for the Best Customer Service award. The shortlist was drawn up after reader nominations.

Next week we will print the short-list for the Good Food award.

To vote for your best customer service establishment simply text DRL(space)SERVICE(space) followed by the two digit number of your choice from the list of nominees printed and send to 61500 (eg DRL SERVICE 01 then send to 61500)

Texts cost 25p plus your standard network rates.

Remember you can vote as often as you like.

Rules and terms & conditions: Texts cost 25p plus your standard network rate. Voting closes midnight Sunday 15th January 2012.

Please note if you should enter after the stated closing deadline your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged.

The winner of each category will be the nominee which receives the greatest number of votes by both text and post. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS services are provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND – 02076335000. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services.

Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these.

01 ANTLER - A BYWORD for stylish high fliers, Antler luggage has also earned its wings when it comes to keeping local customers happy. The Antler store at the Outlet Village has been shortlisted by readers in this year’s Leader Business Awards and manager Anne Chambers believes it is a worthy contender for the Customer Service award. Selling a range of high quality luggage, from lightweight two-wheeled trolley cases, to leather business bags and briefcases, Antler at the Outlet has something to suit every pocket and every type of traveller. “Customer service in this type of business is vitally important if you want to secure future sales, so we always meet and greet each customer and show products appropriate to his or her needs,” said Anne. “At Antler, we have a wide range of products and each has its own qualities and benefits, so it is important to find out customers’ requirements so we can match them up with the right luggage.” A British company with 90 years’ experience of luggage-making, Antler has consistently led the way in quality and design, whether for for the world-trip traveller, Australian back-backer or the many local families now booking their annual package holiday to the sun.

02 AVENUE ONE - AVENUE One is a stylish beauty salon nestled in the heart of Gilford. The team state that they believe they are “leading advocates of ‘beauty through health’ using a practical and holistic approach to enhance our clients’ ‘quality of life’. We always strive to achieve balance between body and mind. In idyllic surroundings with dedicated team of professionals.” The team members are made up of IBPA Ireland’s branch of cidesco, the international beauty therapy association. The team has previously picked up and been nominated for a whole host of awards including Shell Livewire Finalists 2004, IBPA Salon of the year finalists 2006, IBPA Salon Excellence 200, He-Shi Salon 2008 and Ulster Tatler most stylish salon 2011. Referring to the importance placed on customer service, care and satisfaction, Sarah said. “Our first priority is to provide you the best quality care with the utmost professional staff and finest products. We recognise that you are a unique individual so our work is modified to meet your specific needs.”

03 THE BANNVILLE HOUSE HOTEL - The Bannville House Hotel, established in 1972, has been serving the district’s food, accommodation and entertainment needs ever since. Duty Manager Brenna Cullen said the staff are delighted to have been nominated on the strength of their customer service. “At the Bannville House Hotel we pride ourselves on offering a friendly, first-class service to all our customers,” she said. “We try and strive to give people more than what they epect. “We are so pleased to have been nominated for the award. We want to thank all our loyal customers - both the ones we have now and those we hope to have in the future.”

04 THE COACH INN - THE Coach Inn has been nominated by readers for the Customer Service section of the Leader Business Awards and, having dealt with, on average, 10,000 customers per week over the Christmas period, keeping people happy is the corner stone of the local restaurant and nightclub. Operations manager Michael Johnston says simply, “Without customer service, there would be no customers, so providing high quality food and entertainment always comes with excellent personal service at the Coach. “Working in the service industry, good customer service is the corner stone of our business and we always strive to be consistent in providing it,” says Michael. “Across our various sectors, whether it is in the restaurant, public bar or restaurant, there must be consistency. “Everyone likes to be greeted politely, have their queiries answered promptly and served to a high standard, whether they are a regular face in the bar or someone new to the area who has booked a special function. “In these difficult times we are still trading well, so we must be doing something right.”

05 DONAGHY’S - CUSTOMER care doesn’t come any better than at Donaghy’s, so it will be of no surprise to our readers that the popular shoe store has been shortlisted in the Leader Business Awards for customer service. Michael Donaghy expressed his “delight” at the nomination, particularly because of the strong emphasis the family company has always placed on this aspect of the business. “We really are delighted with this news because we appreciate every single customer who comes through our doors,” said Mr Donaghy. “We want to make each person feel happy, relaxed and comfortable while browsing and shopping in our store.” Donaghy’s have introduced several initiatives to enhance the shoe-shopping experience over the years, including the presentation of a photograph and place in the shop’s ‘Hall of Fame’ for young customers being bouught their first pair of shoes, and a ‘walkie talkie’ system to speed up delivery of footwear to the shop floor from the store upstairs. “The website is also a growing part of the business and through it we have had internet sales to customers as far away as New Zealand,” said Mr Donaghy. “But whether our customers are local people, or from overseas, we pride ourselves on providing the very best standard of customer service we can offer.”

06 GOLFINO - GOLFINO prides itself on providing a customer service second to none and has loyal customers from throughout the British Isles and Republic of Ireland to prove it. Manager Gail Malcolmson said the store, which has been based at the Outlet for four-and-a-half years, is “passionate” about going the extra miles when it comes to making every customer feel special. “As the only Golfino store in Northern Ireland, we have a customer base which extends throughout Ireland and into Scotland and England,” said Gail. “Our customers have their own club card and we notify them regularly about all store promotions which they might be interested in.” In a recent Mystery Shopper report, the Golfino store received a 100 per cent approval, so it comes as little surprise that the store, which specialises in designer golfwear, has been nominated for the Leader’s business awards this year.

07 SERENITY - SERENITY Beauty Salon in Dromore has been treating customers to a first-class service for eight years and manager Deborah Crookshanks is “over the moon” to be nominated for the customer service section of the Leader Business Awards as voted by our readers. Well known in the local community, Deborah firmly believes in first impressions and making every customer feel special and welcome as soon as they walk through the door. “I am delighted this approach has been recognised by readers of the Leader in Banbridge and Dromore as we have always prided ourselves on our customer service,” said Deborah. “We like to make every person feel welcome whether they have come in for aromatherapy, reflexology, oriental acupressure treatment or hot stone treatment - or just a pick-me-up manicure. “At Serenity, we always strive to introduce something different into the treatment list on offer and we like to look make sure our clients feel we always put them first.”

08 THE WINDSOR - THE Windsor in Bridge Street, Banbridge, is synonymous with bakery excellence and has won the prestigious Bridgestone Award for 10 years. The popular local eaterie has again been nominated by readers for the customer service section of the Banbridge Leader Business Awards which seek to recognise local businesses where customers always come first. Windsor employee Amanda Adair says everyone is delighted to have been nominated by Leader readers, as customer service remains a hugely important aspect of running the business. “The Windsor has been serving local people for over 26 years and over that time we have become well known in the community and further afield,” said Amanda. “Knowing local faces and being able to have a friendly chat over the counter is extremely important and our staff can often predict the number of scones a customer will order as soon as they come through the door. “That level of service is important to people and our loyal customers are important to us. We want to provide the best service possible and we have been getting really good feedback from people who come in every day, to those who visit the Windsor for the first time.”

09 IVEAGH MOVIE STUDIOS - IVEAGH Movie Studios, another of our nominees in the Customer Service section of the Leader’s Business Awards 2012, has an exemplary track record when it comes to keeping customers happy. The 20-plus staff at the studios are hand-picked for their friendly attitude - considered a priority when it comes to enhancing the cinema-going experience of members of the public. The local four-screen studio has been attracting large numbers of cinema fans during its seven-and-a-half years in business and also boasts an extra fifth portable screen which has been used for special one-off events including American style drive-ins and an outdoor production of Mamma Mia held recently in Solitude Park. Centre manager, Giles Conlon, believes community involvement has been pivotal to the centre’s success and, with this in mind, the centre hosts several locally produced theatrical events as well as providing a platform for well known names and faces across the entertainment industry. “We also like to keep in touch with our customers via the social platform of Facebook which has proved a huge success,” said Giles. “We make a point of updating our information on a daily basis and responding promptly to all customer queries. “Facebook is becoming very important to the cinema-going public who are benefitting from our competitions - one customer won a movie pass for a year on Christmas Day which was definitely an unexpected Christmas bonus!”

10 THE OUTLET - LEADER readers have given a resounding vote of confidence to the customer service provided at the Outlet Village which has been shortlisted in this year’s Business Awards. As well as providing discounts, special promotions, bonuses and bargains for out-of-town shoppers, the Outlet has been recognised for its excellent customer service. Marketing manager, Siobhan McKeown, said she was “absolutely delighted” with the news which she said was a huge credit to the 540 Outlet employees. “This nomination is a result of all our stores and their staff working together. It is a credit to the hard work and the investment everyone here has put into customer service,” said Siobhan. “Unless the stores work together, there can be no consistent experience for customers, so everyone at the Outlet should be commended for their commitment to this vital part of the overall shopping experience.”