The Stevie Awards Blog

How Would Your Development Team Program Customer Service?

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

Most of the time, the engineers and other professionals at software firm Olark are busy manipulating code as they try to push their product forward. But once a month, those computer gurus tackle a much different task: handling customer service inquiries from their users.

The company calls it their “All Hands Support” policy, intended to keep staffers throughout the organization in tune with the needs of clients. “Everyone in our 40-person company continues to contribute to our customer service efforts in some way,” says Karl Pawlewicz, the company’s spokesman.

Customer service is, in fact, at the very core of the San Francisco-based company. Founded in 2009, it offers a live chat platform that businesses large and small can use to address the real-time needs of their buyers. Today, more than 12,000 organizations around the globe use Olark’s easy-to-implement solution in order to address customer needs.

Olark.pngBy giving all of its employees a taste of the customer service experience, they’re able to create a better product, Pawlewicz suggests. “It keeps our entire company in close contact with our customers' successes and frustrations, and ensures each department is aligned on customer priorities,” he says.

The idea originated from the early days when Olark’s four founders were living together in Palo Alto and developing the software platform. “They each took turns on customer service so they wouldn't burn out and so they could stay close to customer feedback,” according to Pawlewicz.

At a time when a lot of customer service is being automated through artificial intelligence and bots, Pawlewicz says it was important for Olark’s principals to create a solution that was simultaneously economical and person-oriented.

“We’re looking for ways to develop a hybrid approach, ensuring technology makes humans more efficient, rather than replacing them,” he notes.

Building Empathy

Creating a better customer service experience is about more than spreading the workload around ‒ it’s also about developing a culture that turns employees into advocates for the company. That can can be a challenge for a geographically-diverse organization, where many employees work from home throughout North America, South America and Europe.

To develop that cohesiveness, the company, which recently won the Gold Stevie Award in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service for Customer Service Department of the Year ‒ Computer Software, hosts in-person retreats once a year. There, the company leaders preach Olark’s core values. Among them: “assume good faith,” “practice empathy” and “help each other grow.”

But the most unconventional of the company’s axioms is “chill out.” As its website describes, Olark  wants its employees to “seek activities that recharge you and allow you to bring your best self to work.” So it’s no accident that the company has amateur musicians and even a couple of part-time farmers among its ranks.

Olark has some off-beat customs, to be sure. Its employees join in to sing Darius Rucker’s  “Wagon Wheel,” the firm’s unofficial anthem, whenever they get together. And they have secret, gift-giving gnomes to celebrate birthdays, since they’re apart for the other 51 weeks each year.

“Creating this positive environment helps our team maintain a healthy work/life balance and come to work every day refreshed and renewed,” explains Pawlewicz. (L1)

That balanced approach has paid off in the form of excellent customer service, decided by Stevie Awards judges. Pawlewicz says the honor has been a major shot in the arm for workers at the burgeoning company.

“It's a testament to the hard work that our customer service team puts in every day, and we hope it will be a compelling proof point for future candidates who consider working at Olark,” he says.

Topics: sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, Customer Service, customer service department, Buisness awards

New Product & Service Awards for HR in 2017

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 @ 08:52 AM

The Stevie® Awards is accepting entries for the second annual Stevie Awards for Great Employers, which will honor the world’s best companies to work for and the HR teams and professionals, HR achievements, new products and services, and suppliers that help to create and drive great workplaces.
Other Stevie Awards programs such as The American Business Awards and The International Business Awards offer human resources categories, but The Stevie Awards recognized the demand for specialized HR awards categories. Today we will highlight the New Product & Service Awards categories in the 2017 Stevie Awards for Great Employers. No other business awards competition offers these category varieties.

SAGE women winners 2016.jpgThe early-bird entry deadline with reduced entry fees is Wednesday, May 3.

The final entry deadline is June 5, but late entries will be accepted through July 19 with payment of a late fee. Entry details are available at


These categories recognize HR-related products and services first issued to the marketplace since the beginning of 2016.  Both brand-new and new-version products are eligible.

The information requirements for entries in these categories in the 2017 competition include:
a.  An essay of up to 625 words describing the nominated product or service: its benefits, features, functions, and sales results to date.

  1. Summarize in up to 10 bullet points (up to 150 words) the chief benefits, features, and functions of the nominated product or service.
  2. Add to your entry up to 10 webpage links and up to 10 document uploads to support your case to the judges.  These might be press articles, press releases, videos, or images, for example. 

Software | Training Programs or Media | Curated Training Platforms


F01      360 Degree Feedback Solution - New
F02      360 Degree Feedback Solution - New Version
F03      Applicant Assessment or Tracking Solution - New
F04      Applicant Assessment or Tracking Solution – New Version
F05      Attendance Tracking Solution - New
F06      Attendance Tracking Solution - New Version
F07      Benefits Management Solution - New
F08      Benefits Management Solution - New Version
F09      Compensation Management Solution - New
F10      Compensation Management Solution - New Version
F11      Course Authoring Solution - New
F12      Course Authoring Solution - New Version
F13      Employee Engagement Solution - New
F14      Employee Engagement Solution - New Version
F15      Employee Recognition Solution - New
F16      Employee Recognition Solution - New Version
F17      Employee Scheduling Solution - New
F18      Employee Scheduling Solution - New Version
F19      HR Reporting Solution - New
F20      HR Reporting Solution - New Version
F21      Human Capital Management Solution - New
F22      Human Capital Management Solution - New Version
F23      Human Resource Information System - New
F24      Human Resource Information System - New Version
F25      Human Resource Management System - New
F26      Human Resource Management System - New Version
F27      Job Board Solution - New
F28      Job Board Solution - New Version
F29      Learning Management Solution - New
F30      Learning Management Solution - New Version
F31      Onboarding Solution - New
F32      Onboarding Solution - New Version
F33      Payroll Management Solution - New
F34      Payroll Management Solution - New Version
F35      Performance Appraisal Solution - New
F36      Performance Appraisal Solution - New Version
F37      Performance Management Solution - New
F38      Performance Management Solution - New Version
F39      Self-Service HR Solution - New
F40      Self-Service HR Solution - New Version
F41      Talent Management Solution - New
F42      Talent Management Solution - New Version
F43      Time and Expense Solution - New
F44      Time and Expense Solution - New Version
F45      Workforce Management Solution - New
F46      Workforce Management Solution - New Version


May be blended, instructor-led, microlearning, video or web-based. 

F50      Brand Training
F51      Compliance Training
F52      Consumer Education Training
F53      Diversity or Sensitivity Training
F54      Interpersonal Skills Training
F55      Leadership Training
F56      Literacy Training
F57      Managerial Training
F58      New Hire Training
F59      Problem-Solving Training
F60      Product Training
F61      Professional or Legal Training
F62      Quality Training
F63      Safety Training
F64      Sales Training
F65      Skills Training
F66      Systems Training
F67      Technical Training
F68      Other


F70      Consumer
F71      Industrial/Technical
F72      Managerial/Professional
F73      Technology
F74      Other

Topics: hr awards, new product awards, best new product or service, best new product, great employers, new service awards

Winners in 2017 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards Announced

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 @ 08:31 AM

Honorees for Innovation in Business to Be Recognized in Tokyo on June 2

Winners in the fourth annual Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards, the only awards program to recognize innovation in business throughout the entire Asia-Pacific region, were announced today.  The list of Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners is available at

The Stevie Awards are considered to be the world's premier business awards, conferring recognition for achievement in the workplace over the past 15 years in programs such as The International Business Awards and The American Business Awards. 

APSA 2016 1-2.jpgThe 2017 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards have recognized organizations in 15 nations including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the U.S.A. and Vietnam. More than 700 nominations about innovative achievements in the 22-nation APAC region were considered by the judges this year.

This year’s top overall winner, with eight Gold, five Silver and 18 Bronze Stevie Award wins is Telkom Indonesia.  This is the third year in a row in which Telkom Indonesia has led the competition.  Close on their heels this year is PT PETROKIMIA GRESIK (Indonesia), with seven Gold, seven Silver and 13 Bronze Stevie wins.

Winners of multiple Gold Stevie Awards include Amobee (U.S.A.), Cisco Systems (Australia and India), (Australia), the Hong Kong Tourism Board (China), MSLGROUP (China), PRIZM (China), PT Angkasa Pura II (Indonesia), Shopping Center Management Corporation (Philippines) and TBM Co., Ltd. (Japan).

Stevie winners will be presented their awards at a gala banquet at the Hilton Hotel in Tokyo, Japan on Friday, June 2.  Tickets for the event are now on sale.

More than 50 executives around the world participated in the judging to determine the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners. 

Details about the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards and the list of Stevie Award winners are available at

“We congratulate the winners of the innovation Stevies and look forward to celebrating their achievements with them in Tokyo on June 2,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards.

Sponsors and partners of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards include PR Newswire Asia, the official news distribution partner of the awards, and the Korea Business Communicators Association.

Topics: innovation awards, Asia Awards, Asia-Pacific Business Awards, Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

Drug Tests in Bulk Tests Positive For Stellar Customer Service.

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

Drug and alcohol testing mitigates the risk of injury and property damage to help companies establish a strong safety culture. Stevie Award winner Drug Tests In Bulk (DTIB) provides instant drug testing kits for businesses ranging from correctional facilities, corporate accounts, government offices and anyone who wants to detect the use of abused substances.

The company recently won the Silver Stevie for the e-Commerce Customer Service Award - All Other Industries in the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, in addition to gaining media attention for filling an invaluable need for organizations.

Sumant Vasan, Director of Digital Marketing at Drug Tests in Bulk told us, “We have been mentioned in many notable publications, such as Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Chicago Tribune and Buzzfeed for our product selection, customer service, and marketing prowess. We are also recognized by DATIA, SAPAA, and SHRM and BBB with an A+ as an exemplary provider.”

drug tests in bulk.png

The Best and Affordable

DTIB finds the change from lab testing to instant tests to be the most profound as of late. While most lab tests can cost up to $120, instant tests can go for as little as $2-$10 per test. This opportunity helps DTIB help businesses keep a safe workplace, without causing them the difficulty of choosing a sizable investment to do so.

Knowing Your Customer

Regular "Power Hour" meetings to review customer inquiries help address any concerns in a uniform and a thoughtful manner. They also look at customizing the best products for certain industry types, to reduce customer confusion and increase trust in their customer service team.

“We also have a catered lunch every Friday, where we all get a chance to eat, laugh and get to know our fellow team members better.” Said Sumant.

Growing Up With The Company

DTIB believes they’re much more than a drug testing company.  Implementing drug testing policy, protocol, and regulations is a serious responsibility. They also design exercises that include friendly competitions, collaborative projects and focus group sessions to maintain their family oriented environment that sets them apart.

“Our team members have ‘grown up’ with the company. Many of us have gotten married, had children, and bought homes while working here.” Recalled Sumant, “The company definitely has a family feel to it, and we often do things in the community together. For example, we support local food banks, girl scouts, boy scouts, drug rehab centers, and animal shelters.”

Passing With Flying Colours

DTIB customers constantly save on service that matches expensive lab based tests, with an instant solution that delivers the results in less than 5 minutes without sacrificing the quality of the test itself. With more than 15,000 businesses and clients in the U.S., DTIB has definitely tested positive for stellar customer service.

Learn more about Drug Tests in Bulk and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, e-commerce awards

RizePoint - Brand Protection Takes a Leap Into The Future.

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 @ 11:25 AM

When a company needs protection from issues related to safety, quality assurance and loss prevention, streamlined data can make a world of difference.

RizePoint is a global leader in enterprise compliance for both internally imposed standards and externally imposed regulations. Their software builds and protects brand equity by enabling a consistent customer experience. Considered the industry standard for food service, hospitality, and retail, RizePoint mobile and cloud-based solutions serve nearly 2 million audits with 200 million questions answered annually. 

Rising to The Challenge

Rize-Point-750x350.gif2016 was a whirlwind year for RizePoint. The company rebranded themselves (formerly Steton Technology Group) and brought on a new executive team that launched two major software updates—a first for the company.

They took their motto to heart by hiring the "best and the brightest" and that strategy paid off with awards, increased revenue and low turnover rates.

Their successful transition lead them to winning the 2016 Silver Stevie Employer of the Year Award in the Computer Software category and the Silver Sales and Customer Service Award in the Business Intelligence category for 2017.

The 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service opens in June. Request your entry kit here.

“Winning the Stevie validates our efforts to create industry-leading business intelligence solutions. It helps us talk about our software to potential clients, partners, and investors.”

A Special Thanks

The compliance software industry is a growing space. RizePoint has nearly 20 years of experience in this industry but there are now more than 5 dozen startups doing some form of compliance software. Rizepoint attributes a lot of their success to Jesse Dowdle’s award-winning leadership style for paving the way for success at Rizepoint. They also thank continued partnerships with their clients in the foodservice and hospitality industry.

While RizePoint works with the world’s most recognized brands to deliver audit tools and reports, they make it their mission to give clients their full attention and address any concerns in their day-to-day operations. RizePoint believes their unique culture can be best understood by watching their introductory video exemplifying their dedication to making clients feel RizePoint is their “home away from home.”

Topics: sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, new product award, Computer Software Company of the Year, computer software awards, business intelligence awards

Many New Mobile Site and App Awards in The 2017 International Business Awards

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

The early-bird entry deadline in The 2017 International Business Awards, with discounted entry fees, for the 14th annual IBAs is today- Wednesday, April 12.

The IBAs are the world's leading business awards program. All organizations and individuals worldwide may submit nominations: large and small, for-profit and non-profit, public and private.


The entry kit contains all of the information you'll need to be able to prepare and submit entries to the 2017 awards.

IBA 2015 winners 2.jpgIf you miss the early-bird deadline, note that the final deadline is May 10, but late entries will be accepted through June 14 with payment of a late fee.

Today we will recognize a variety of new Mobile Website and App Awards categories for the 2017 competition. New categories are highlighted in red.

Information to be submitted online for entries in these categories in the 2017 competition include:

a. An essay of up to 200 words describing the mobile site or app's purpose and results to date
b. The mobile site or app itself, in the form of a demonstration video of up to three (3) minutes in length.  You must attach the video to your entry through our attachment/link uploading tool
c. Optionally, you may list creative and production credits for your site or app - a list of the people and organizations that contribute to its development

P60. Auction (new category for 2017)
P61. Business/Government
P62. Education & Reference
P63. Entertainment
P64. Events
P65. Experimental & Innovation
P66. Family & Kids (new category for 2017)
P67. Fashion & Beauty (new category for 2017)
P68. Financial Services / Banking (new category for 2017)
P69. Fitness & Recreation (new category for 2017)
P70. Food & Drink (new category for 2017)
P71. Games
P72. Guides/Ratings/Reviews
P73. Health (new category for 2017)
P74. Integrated Mobile Experience
P75. Lifestyle
P76. Magazine / Editorial (new category for 2017)
P77. Marketing
P78. Messaging (new category for 2017)
P79. Music
P80. News
P81. Productivity (new category for 2017)
P82. Professional Education
P83. Professional Services (new category for 2017)
P84. Public Service & Activism (new category for 2017)
P85. Real Estate (new category for 2017)
P86. School / University (new category for 2017)
P87. Shopping
P88. Social
P89. Sports
P90. Training
P91. Travel
P92. Utilities & Services

Topics: app awards, website awards, International business awards, mobile site awards

Signs, Smiles and Second to None Service

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 @ 10:32 AM

Providing the best customer service for homes and businesses is what Stevie Award-winner is all about. is the industry leader in a variety of indoor and outdoor custom signage options for businesses and homes. They also offer one day turnaround time on most of their products. If clients need assistance, they proclaim, “no problem!” by providing free design services and “world-class customer service.”

This is how they garnered such high customer satisfaction rates all the way to win the Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year.

Interested in entering the 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service? These are the top customer service awards, sales awards, business development awards, and new product and service awards around the world.

Request the entry kit here and it will be emailed to you in June.

No Small Parts believes each of their team members bring unique qualities to the table. Whitney Pikula (nee Matagi) is their “bubbliest” customer experience agent on the chat service. Whitney was hired as a temp while she finished school and immediately charmed everyone, leading her to land the Customer Experience position.

“She's helpful, sweet, and endearing...Her vivacious spirit is infectious. She's such an asset to our customer service team!”

Whitney has also been a professional dancer for most of her life. She danced for the University of Utah (her alma mater), the Utah Jazz basketball team and the Arizona Cardinals football team. She also traveled through China cheering on the United States Basketball team. Whitney has made it her mission to always keep clients happy and her co-workers laughing.

Smooth Strides to The Stevie Awards made the UVEF (Utah Venture Entrepreneur Forum) top 25 companies under five years old for the second year in a row, before placing sixth in the top ten.

In 2015, they were awarded "Utah's Emerging Elite," an award that honors Utah's fastest growing companies.

In 2017, they plan on applying to be on the INC 500 list.

“We pride ourselves on being on the forefront of these innovations. Who knows where the future of printing will take us.” considers the Stevie Awards a great place to share their company success.

“What a great place to showcase our amazing company. Upon learning of the Stevie Awards' tremendous reputation, we couldn't think of a better match! We became obsessed with creating the best submission out there!”

All Work and No Play...

Working hard but also playing hard is very important to Team building activities include escape rooms, games of darts, nerf gun wars and frequent pranks keep a sense of play for a company in the business of creative council for signage.

“To shake things up, we always play a game after each meeting! We've done some crazy things we aren't really proud of, including putting nylons on our head, eating donuts from a string and playing aggressive games of Spoons. We even have gold and silver medals to hand out to the weekly winners. Yeah, not competitive at all. And TOTALLY normal.”

Samantha, their resident baker, always makes snacks for meetings and birthday celebrations. Because of this, they have sage advice:

“Invest in treadmill desks.”

Topics: best customer service, customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service

Redefining the Average Call Center

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 06, 2017 @ 10:16 AM

A common thread among successful, enduring brands is always putting the customer first. Selling to existing customers is much more inexpensive than attracting new ones. Research shows that companies spend five times more to attract a new buyer than to retain a previous one.

Yet a primary mechanism for delivering customer service – a large call center operation – can be limiting. Often, these facilities are trying to lure local job seekers who have little attachment to the brand. And that becomes evident in their interactions with the customer.

Arise.pngArise Virtual Solutions is trying to fundamentally change that paradigm. The Miramar, Florida-based company provides a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to utilize a network of “micro” call centers around the country. Often, these are semi-retired adults, stay-at-home parents, or even people with disabilities who work out of their homes.

Because the talent pool isn’t confined to a small geographic area, companies can look for individuals who have a higher level of work experience or who possess specific skills, such as the ability to speak a foreign language.

It also enables organizations – whether they’re manufacturers, retailers or service providers – to recruit representatives who share their values and interests. That aspect resolves some of the high turnover issues that plague a lot of traditional call centers. It also turns those individuals into advocates for the brand.

A cycling equipment maker, for instance, is able to staff people who are avid fans of the sport. As a result, they have a clearer understanding of the questions that customers have and are able to suggest products that will fit their needs.

In the 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, Arise was recognized for its innovative solution. The company was awarded the Gold Stevie® in the Best Use of Technology in Customer Service - Business Services category.

Want to submit entries in the 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service? Request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you when it's available. 

A more flexible workforce

For firms that use the Arise platform, the advantages go beyond the talent level of the customer service workers. The technology also provides a flexibility that traditional call centers don’t offer.

Based on call volume, for example, companies can increase or decrease the number of on-duty reps in under an hour. As a result, users can turn a fixed cost into a variable cost – and save money in the process. The company calls it being “right-staffed.”

Consequently, an industry that was once dominated by large brick-and-mortar operations is undergoing a seismic transformation.  A trade group survey found that as many as 70 percent of call center managers intend to move to a cloud-based infrastructure in the near future.

As one Stevie® Award judge put it, technologies like those offered by Arise offer a “desperately needed” tool that can “accommodate a flexible workforce.”

The array of benefits has led to impressive growth for the company, which was founded in the mid-90s. Today, the Arise network includes thousands of micro call centers throughout the United States as well as in Canada and several European countries. Those individuals provide support for companies in a wide range of industries, from healthcare to retail and banking.

Arise has garnered a number of recognitions over the past few years, including accolades from the Outsourcing Institute and the International Customer Management Institute, or ICMI. Arise CEO John A. Meyer indicated the Stevie Award represents a major achievement for the organization.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the Stevie Awards and our peers,” Meyer said in a statement following the ceremony in Las Vegas.

Learn more about Arise Virtual Solutions.

Topics: best customer service, customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, customer service excellence, Customer Service

2017 German Stevie Award Winners Celebrated at Gala Banquet

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, Apr 03, 2017 @ 06:07 PM

Entry Fees Waived for 2018 German Stevie Awards; Weber Shandwick Wins the Grand Stevie Award

The third annual German Stevie Awards were celebrated at the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg on Friday, March 31. President and Founder of the Stevie Awards, Michael Gallagher, handed out the gold, silver and bronze Stevie Awards to winners from across Germany. Highly-ranking representatives from more than 50 winners received their awards on stage.

German Stevies 2017.jpgIn their third year, the German Stevie Awards have already established a leading role in Germany. They are part of the Stevie Awards programs, which are widely considered to be the world's premier business awards, conferring recognition for achievement in the workplace in programs such as The International Business Awards for more than a decade.  All organizations in Germany were eligible to submit nominations.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Grand Stevie Award to the communications agency Weber Shandwick Germany. The PR agency, headquartered in Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt has won German Stevie Awards for three consecutive years. This year they won two Gold, two Silver, and one Bronze Stevie Award. Because of these successes, Weber Shandwick earned the most points out of any other organization and recieved the Grand Stevie Award, the top honor.

Winners were selected in variety award categories, ranging from best companies of the year to best customer service and HR solutions, to new products and marketing campaigns. There were many categories for creative minds such as best videos, company-related e-books, and apps or websites. "The quality of the nominations this year was just outstanding," said Michael Gallagher. He was delighted to meet many of the winners in Hamburg at the awards gala.

At the end of the award ceremony, some exciting news about the German Stevie Awards 2018 was announced. The big surprise: This coming year, the 4th annual German Stevie Awards will not have any entry fees. "We want to give all companies the opportunity to participate in the German Stevie Awards," explains Michael Gallagher. "This is why we are completely waiving the entry fees for the 4th German Stevie Awards." The award ceremony will then take place on April 13, 2018 in Berlin. Nominations for the 2018 German Stevie Awards starts on September 6, 2017. Request your entry kit for 2018 here.

Topics: company awards, German Stevie Awards, Grand Stevie Award