The Stevie Awards Blog

Moving to the Cloud Is Imperative for Customer Experience Success

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 03:04 PM

Customer experience (CX) has undergone a huge transformation over the last few years, and that’s largely because technology has led to rapid advances in the way consumers are engaged and served. CXOne, a platform created by NICE inContact, enables brands to adopt new innovations and improve overall operations.

Virtual chatbots, artificial intelligence, cloud-based contact centers, and data-driven personalizations are no longer novelties. Businesses are working overtime to make their processes agile enough to serve customers’ demands for multichannel, real-time service. Does this mean the beginning of the end of legacy customer service systems?

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NICE_inContact_logo“It’s no secret that customer satisfaction leads to customer advocacy and loyalty,” says Heather Hughes, senior corporate communications manager of Stevie-winner NICE inContact, a customer experience company based in Sandy, Utah, United States. “As companies strive to provide excellent CX, we’re seeing advanced technology play a big role in the experience.”

Moving CX to the Cloud: Need and Adoption

Not so long ago, customers needing to resolve issues could only call up business call centers and wait to be assigned to representatives. Today, customers reach out to businesses via a variety of channels, including, but not limited to, social media, voice calls, e-mails, chat, SMS, and video. They’re not happy waiting around either. According to a 2018 Hubspot study, 90 percent of consumers rated an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have customer service queries.

Supporting this multichannel, real-time customer experience demand calls for the quick implementation and seamless integration of new technologies, strategies, and processes into organizations’ existing customer service systems. This entails significant ongoing expenditure and is hardly sustainable, which is why businesses find the alternative of migrating contact centers and their entire CX management to the cloud way more palatable.

According to the State of Customer Experience study, by West Corporation, 39 percent of call centers they surveyed had already migrated to the cloud (as of 2017), and another 53 percent were planning to do so within the next three years (by 2020).

“The speed at which organizations need to perform and to transform continues to accelerate. The ability to adjust course in real time to best serve internal and external audiences is paramount, and it’s best enabled with open cloud platforms,” says Hughes.

CX platforms like CXOne from NICE inContact enable brands to adopt new innovations (e.g., AI and embedded analytics), to deploy service changes quickly, and to consolidate routing and reporting across global operations.

Marrying Technological Innovations and the Human Touch

When businesses think of moving CX to the cloud, investing in virtual chatbots, or personalizing customer interactions, the assumption is the need for human interaction then decreases drastically. That, however, is not true. Technology is simply a suite of tools, and it can’t replace the value and impact of the human touch.

For instance, a January 2019 Forrester study revealed 63 percent of customers are OK with getting service from a chatbot, provided they have the choice to move the conversation to a human if required.

“We believe one-on-one customer interactions have a real and lasting impact on people’s lives,” says Hughes. “It’s a belief that inspires us to relentlessly innovate in the cloud and to find smarter ways to transform one-on-one experiences in order to help contact centers achieve their goals.”

This approach toward customer experience makes CXone from NICE inContact a global leader in cloud contact center software, and it led to a Silver Stevie® win in Product Management & New Products Awards in the Cloud Platform category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® in 2019.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, Customer Service, artificial intelligence

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine Named as Media Partner for 2020 Middle East Stevie® Awards and Stevie Awards for Great Employers

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 10:13 AM

The Stevie Awards, organizer of the world’s premier business awards programs, has announced that HR Revolution Middle East Magazine will serve as a media partner for the 2020 Middle East Stevie Awards and the Stevie Awards for Great Employers.

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HR Revolution Middle East Magazine is described as an honest reflection of the Middle Eastern business environment through its use of clear case studies, articles, and interviews professionally served to readers around the world. The organization’s mission is to improve and have a powerful impact on human resources processes in the Middle East by providing the proper resources. HR Revolution will be covering all aspects of both Stevie Awards ceremonies in 2020.

The first annual Middle East Stevie Awards gala event will be held on Saturday, March 21st at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. The Stevie Awards for Great Employers will be presented on September 17th at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Both award ceremonies will recognize workplace achievements since July 1, 2018.

The Middle East Stevie Awards, sponsored by the Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, are an international business awards competition open to all organizations in 17 nations in the Middle East and North Africa. The focus of the awards is on recognizing innovation in all its forms.  

The Stevie Awards for Great Employers are an international business awards competition open to all organizations worldwide. The awards recognize the world's best companies to work for, and the HR teams, professionals, achievements, new products, and suppliers that help to create and drive great places to work.

About HR Revolution Middle East Magazine:
Among the global ethical awakenings in our recent century, and among the glorious creative and business erections, the magnitude of the Human Resources aspect has proven to be greatly valuable. As the recent Middle East being a parlor of inspirations to the open-minded observers and thinkers of our planet, we – a group of Egyptian enthusiasts – decided to have the honor to start the HR Revolution Middle East Magazine. The magazine is an honest reflection of the Middle Eastern business environment empowered by clear case studies, articles and interviews professionally served to worldwide readers of researchers and learners.

Request an entry kit for the
2021 Middle East Stevie Awards.

Request the entry kit

Tags: Stevie Awards for Great Employers, Middle East Stevie Awards

Capabilities & Shortfalls of Today’s Automation

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 22, 2020 @ 02:38 PM

Professionals in IT operations often resolve issues by automating scripting or coding.

Why use automation?

Throughout the past two decades, technological innovations and information delivery systems have spurred unprecedented growth. The continued evolution of tech, as well as human ingenuity, present organizations across the retail, manufacturing, telecom, banking, and financial services sectors with an array of ever-expanding scenarios and challenges. As just a few examples, being connected continues to become cheaper, and device ownership is skyrocketing.

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Data volumes are soaring, and billions of new connected data sources are anticipated within a few years. We are quickly approaching exabyte volumes and are surging toward zettabytes, and the growth of mobile connectivity continues to surpass fixed lines. Security is, as always, a major issue, along with regulatory complexity.

These automations, however, often only work within a monolithic and extremely predictive environment. If one thing changes in that environment, it typically results in the automation failing within the system. Once this happens, an IT professional must begin the troubleshooting process, which might take anywhere from five to thirty minutes to complete. This increases a company’s internal costs and bogs down IT resources.

Are Humans and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Destined to Work Together?

IT has revolutionized businesses across global industries. The way IT operates in most enterprises, however, is still very people-centric, which means the industry is prime for robotic or runbook automation initiatives. Having a fairly straightforward goal of achieving direct cost savings, these automations can reduce the manual effort spent on repetitive activities.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is great for a predictive environment, but it’s not necessarily designed for an ever-changing landscape. It lacks, therefore, the agility to successfully handle many scenarios. To see better results, the automation efforts need to be cognitive and intelligent.

While script-based automation yields quick, small wins, most organizations soon realize the accelerating pace of business-related changes, the increasing complexity of technology and operations, and rising technology-based operational risks far outmatch traditional automation capabilities. There is a critical need, therefore, for an intelligent system that can keep up with technology churn, understand business processes, and be customized to an industry domain and business model.

Many companies praise automation like it’s already the backbone of their business platforms, but human intervention within that automation is still largely necessary. Companies like Digitate try to be aware of this (currently) inescapable reality by working with top brands in virtually every industry. By continuing to improve their product capabilities, service delivery, and customer support, they can build a community of dedicated users who are excited about sharing their stories with them.

DigitateDigitate™ leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to manage IT and business operations. Their product, ignio™, enables better decision-making and ultimately solves IT operations challenges.

Other companies that also leverage machine learning and AI to manage IT and business operations are still working on developing an overarching process that can understand system needs across dynamic situations from different sectors. This is a daunting task, though, and something no one has been able to achieve—yet.

Digitate recently won a Silver Stevie® Award in the Software Defined Infrastructure category at the 2019 International Business Awards®.

Interested in entering The International Business Awards this year? They open for entries on February 4, 2020. 

REQUEST ENTRY KIT

Tags: it awards, information technology awards, International Awards, top business awards, automation

Finalists Announced in 14th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 11:15 AM

Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Winners to Be Announced in Las Vegas on February 28

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Finalists in the 14th Annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, an international competition recognizing excellence in disciplines that are crucial to business success, were announced today.

A diverse group of organizations and individuals around the world are among those recognized in the customer service awards, contact center awards, business development awards, and sales awards categories.

Organizations with five or more Finalist nominations include Achievers, Toronto, ON Canada; Allianz Global Assistance, Richmond, VA USA; Bounteous, Chicago, IL USA; Carbonite, Inc., Boston, MA USA; Cinch Home Services, Inc., Boca Raton, FL USA; Clarabridge, Reston, VA USA; Concentrix, Fremont, CA USA; CoverMyMeds, Columbus, OH USA; Cvent Inc, McLean, VA USA; Dell Technologies, worldwide; Delta Vacations, Minot, ND USA; DenizBank Financial Service Group, Istanbul, Turkey; DHL Express Vietnam, Hanoi; DHL Express, Johannesburg, South Africa; Druva, Sunnyvale, CA USA; GoDaddy, Scottsdale, AZ USA; HomeServe USA, Norwalk, CT USA; IBM, worldwide; John Hancock Financial Services, Boston, MA USA; Mailchimp, Atlanta, GA USA; NCR Corporation, Atlanta, GA USA; RAIN Group, Boston, MA USA; Sales Partnerships, Inc., Broomfield, CO USA; Spinnaker Support, Greenwood Village, CO USA; Sun Basket, San Jose, CA USA; TTEC, Englewood, CO USA; UPMC Health Plan, Pittsburgh, PA USA; VXI Global Solutions, Los Angeles, CA USA; Wells Fargo Treasury Management Client Delivery, San Francisco, CA USA; and WNS (Holdings) Limited, Mumbai, India.

Visit http://www.StevieAwards.com/Sales for a full list of Finalists by category.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists will be revealed during a gala banquet on Friday, February 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tickets are now on sale.

The awards are presented by the Stevie Awards, which organizes eight of the world’s leading business awards shows, including the prestigious International Business Awards® and American Business Awards®, and the Women|Future Conference.

More than 2,600 nominations from organizations of all sizes, in virtually every industry, in 48 nations were evaluated in this year’s competition. Finalists were determined by the average scores of more than 180 professionals worldwide in seven specialized judging committees. Entries were considered in more than 90 categories for customer service and contact center achievements, including Contact Center of the Year, Award for Innovation in Customer Service, and Customer Service Department of the Year; more than 60 categories for sales and business development achievements, ranging from Senior Sales Executive of the Year to Sales Training or Business Development Executive of the Year to Sales Department of the Year; and categories to recognize new products and services and solution providers.

Beginning today through February 14, the general public may vote for their favorite providers of customer service in the People’s Choice Stevie® Awards for Favorite Customer Service. Voting is open at http://peopleschoice.stevieawards.com. Winners of the People’s Choice Stevie Awards in multiple industries will be determined in mid-February and honored at the awards gala in Las Vegas on February 28.

Request an entry kit for the
2021 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Request the entry kit

Tags: Sales & Customer Service, 2020 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

How to Retain Your Best Employees Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Companies that consistently rank high on the lists of best places to work often have great work cultures, deep-rooted values, and fantastic employee benefits. They go above and beyond state and federally-mandated benefits and offer their employees generous retirement plans, flexible work hours, tuition reimbursements, ample parental leave, and many other tangible and intangible perks. These companies attract and retain the best talent because they truly care for their employees’ well-being.

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What Do Employees Really Want?

While the long list of benefits top companies provide are great, they might not be feasible for most smaller businesses. In these scenarios, companies should identify the “good-to-have” benefits and then investigate what their employees really need and what issues weigh heaviest on their minds.

According to the PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 2019, financial matters cause employees the most stress—more than all other life stressors (health concerns, relationships, job issues, and more) combined. A staggering 30 percent lie awake at night worrying about money, and 23 percent are less productive at work because of financial worries, according to a US employee benefit trends study.

Also, even though the numbers have improved slightly since last year, almost 40 percent of US households still don’t have enough savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense (Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households).

Investing in employees’ financial health, therefore, is one of the best ways companies can show they care.

Offer Innovative and Affordable Financial Benefits

With the amount of financial stress they are under, one would think employees would opt for pay raises over perks. Surprisingly, though, almost 80 percent of employees chose perks over pay raises in an employee confidence survey by Glassdoor.

Employer-matching 401K, health insurance, financial planning, and student loan repayment are all excellent financial benefits, but corporations (or even small businesses) can also implement several innovative and unique financial benefits alongside these more traditional options.

One good example is Gusto, a human resources management platform based in San Francisco, California, United States, which allows employees to access the money they’ve already earned for emergencies, without having to wait until payday.

cookie_jar_logo-1Another example of an innovative yet affordable financial benefit is Stevie-winner Cookie Jar by SafetyNet, a financial services company based in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Cookie Jar combines the simplicity of kitchen-table finances with the sophistication of an employer-matched benefits program by rounding employees’ checking account transactions and credit card purchases to the nearest dollar and then saving the spare change in special accounts. These savings can be automatically matched by the employer, and they can be accessed by the employee whenever an emergency arises.

“Cookie Jar is designed for average workers who need to save but don’t feel they have the financial flexibility to do so,” says Vreni Pigorsch, senior media strategist at Cookie Jar. “A salary and a retirement plan are no longer enough to sustain employees, and employers are taking note. Instead, pet insurances; liquid savings programs, such as Cookie Jar; and other accessible financial tools are being incorporated into employee benefit plans. Employees become happier and more focused at work, and employers are able to attract and to retain great talent by setting their benefit structure apart from their competition.”

Cookie Jar won a Silver Stevie® Award in Product Management & New Product Awards in the Financial Services category at the 2019 American Business Awards.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, product management, financial awards

Master Agents: The Telecom Players You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 08, 2020 @ 12:35 PM

Without their customers even realizing it, many businesses utilize master agents. A master agent works by using the services of a large number of expert partners, such as IT consultants, systems integrators, and technology service providers. All these entities work under one umbrella to provide seamless service to their clients.

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Technology Distribution Services

Telecommunications systems are vital to the world of business. As the cloud continues to drive convergence, organizations strive to upgrade their outdated systems and to add fresh ones. Master agents are organizations that perform the back-office duties for their subagents. As such, they take care of tasks like order tracking, commission tracking, and troubleshooting. The benefits of using a master agent are the ability to build partnerships, to offer a range of future-proof solutions, and to safeguard clients with clear and knowledgeable advice.

Ideal Tech Solutions

Keeping current with technology can be a tall order, and the benefit of having an umbrella company that’s committed to helping organizations access telecommunications, cable, and cybersecurity vendors can be invaluable. A master agent matches an organization to the ideal solutions that can help grow that business, and it also offers end-to-end support for companies. The joy of using specialists like this is that they take the time to listen to their clients and then match them with the technologies most appropriate for the development of their companies.

A Strong Team

The telecom industry is continuously evolving in order to keep up with developing technology. Growth opportunities are enormous, and master agent technology specialists are well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities. Currently, only 14 percent of technology businesses take advantage of master agents, but by continually developing and updating the services they offer, there is room to increase that number and to help companies keep ahead of the tech curve.

The president of TBI, Inc., Geoff Shepstone, feels the purpose of a master agent is to ensure it consistently provides value to its clients and partners.

TBI_Inc_logo-1“Provide value or perish,” says Shepstone. “We remain the largest privately held master agent in the country due to the fact that every single business unit within TBI provides free value-adds to our partner community.”

When considering partnering with a master agent, it’s essential to employ a company whose ethos matches your own. It should also have a positive organizational culture and motivated employees who enjoy frequent opportunities for continued professional development, keep relationships active, and keep creative business ideas flowing. A top-quality technology business ensures staff members can network with colleagues from all departments and organizational levels as this promotes a constant flow of knowledge and information. This helps build a strong team and provides excellent support to both customers and partners.

Responsiveness and the ability to keep their customers and partners looped in as the technology industry develops helped TBI, Inc. win a Gold Stevie® Award for Marketing Department of the Year and a Bronze Stevie® for Marketer of the Year at The 2019 American Business Awards®.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, Marketing, telecommunications

Call for Speakers and Topics Issued for Third-Annual Women|Future Conference

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Mon, Jan 06, 2020 @ 09:59 AM

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of the world’s premier business awards programs, has issued a call for speakers and topics for its third-annual Women|Future Conference.

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This two-day event for professional women to connect and hear about business and career topics will be presented in conjunction with the 17th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business on November 12-13, 2019, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The Stevie Awards is offering $99 registration for the conference through January 17 at https://stevieawards.regfox.com/2020-womenfuture-conference. Registration fees are 100% refundable through early October 2020. The fee will rise to $299 on January 18.

REGISTER NOW

Speaker and topic proposals may be submitted at https://www.womenfutureconference.com/speaker-topic-proposals. The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 1. Questions about the conference, presentation opportunities, and sponsorship options may be directed to Ruslana Milikhiker, Conference & Event Manager, at Ruslana@StevieAwards.com

In addition to our call for speakers, we are also seeking young (less than three years) women-owned businesses to showcase at the 2020 event. If you are interested in showcasing your business before an audience of potential customers, investors, and the press, at no cost, click here and tell us about your organization, its products and/or services, and the date you began business.

The mission of the conference is to help women understand and prepare for the changes that will affect their businesses, their industries, their careers, and their lives. Speakers and topics may address impending change in areas such as artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship, career management, diversity and inclusion, and the future of work, for example. The conference will also feature case studies from finalists in the 2020 Stevie Awards for Women in Business about how they are achieving success and preparing for the future.

Last year’s conference speakers included Sheryl Connelly of Ford Motor Company, Gail Becker of CAULIPOWER, Shimona Chadha of HCL Technologies, Ashley Brundage of PNC, and Alex Coren of Wambi, among others. Click here to check out the highlights from the 2019 conference.

Following the conference is the Stevie Awards for Women in Business gala on November 13, where Stevie nominees will be awarded in categories such as Entrepreneur of the Year, Startup of the Year, Women Helping Women and Women-Run Workplace of the Year, in Equal Pay, and Achievement in Developing and Promoting Women.

 

Tags: the stevie awards for women in business, Women Future Conference, Women Future Conference 2020

Meet the 2020 Silver and Bronze Stevie® Medals

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Jan 03, 2020 @ 07:00 AM

We're pleased to share with you the first photographs of the 2020 Silver and Bronze Stevie® Award medals.

Silver_Bronze_SA20_ver.3The new medals will be conferred first at the 14th Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service event in Las Vegas on February 28.

In addition to the Sales & Customer Service Awards (final entry deadline January 9) Silver and Bronze Stevie medals are presented in the following competitions:

Silver_SA20_ver.2In all Stevie Awards competitions, the highest-scoring qualifying entry in a category receives a Gold Stevie Award trophy.  Other qualifying entries receive Silver or Bronze medals, depending on their score.  Learn more about our judging and award process.  

The Silver and Bronzes feature new designs for 2020.  But the medal boxes are new as well.  The boxes themselves are polished silver and copper metal, with impresses of the Stevie Award trophy.

Bronze_SA20_ver.1You can't win one of these beauties if you don't first participate in a Stevie Awards competition, so...

Get a Stevies Entry Kit

 

Tags: medals, business awards, stevie awards, Awards

3 Reasons Why You Won't Win Any Business Awards in 2020

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Jan 02, 2020 @ 10:26 AM

It's that time of year when most companies are firming up their PR and marketing budgets and plans for 2020.  Many organizations are budgeting and planning to enter any number of business awards competitions in the new year, because they know that awards are cost-effective tools for a variety of purposes, with brand building and employee relations chief among them.

ABA_trophy_displayBut here are the three reasons why you and your organization won't win a single award in 2020 - plus the #1 reason it won't matter a whit even if you do.

1. You Don't Enter

On occasion when we suggest to someone that they should nominate their organization in one of the Stevie® Awards competitions, their response is: We don't believe in nominating ourselves for awards.  We plan to do such great work that awards will just be given to us.

Really? we want to reply. Which award are you hoping will make a beeline to your door?  A Nobel Prize? A MacArthur Genius Award?  Get real. 

Hope is not a strategy. If you don't believe that winning awards can help to burnish your organization's reputation, provide a low-cost reward to your employees for their good work, and provide one more incentive to your executives and workers to excel, we could persuade you otherwise, but at least that's your opinion.  But if you do believe that winning awards can offer these benefits, why on earth wouldn't you plan to pursue them?

Sure, it can take hours to prepare entries, and entry fees for a few awards programs can run to several thousand dollars, but the work and the cost are minor compared to the benefits of winning - and leveraging - a prestigious award.

2. You Aren't Smart About Picking Your Competitions

While we think our Stevie Awards competitions are the best there are, we acknowledge there are many awards programs worthy of your attention around the world for corporate awards, PR awards, marketing awards, IT awards, web awards, HR awards, and so on.  Picking those that are right for you and your organization is important.  And picking the categories within those competitions is also key.

When someone calls the Stevie Awards to inquire about whether their organization might be a fit for one of our competitions, we ask them two questions: one, what do you want to be recognized for?  And two, is it important to you in which category you might be honored?  Their answer to the first question is important, because that will tell us which competition, and which category(s), will be a fit for them.  The answer to the second question is also pivotal, because that will tell us whether we should recommend only the most popular (i.e. "prestigious") categories or can recommend secondary categories to them as well.

3. You Don't Tell Your Story Well

It's our experience that most organizations aren't very good at formally summarizing and articulating their achievements in an engaging way.  Storytelling is a vital part of corporate - and career - success.

When someone says to us, I'm not sure we're ready to enter the Stevie Awards, I don't know that we've achieved enough yet, we ask them to give us their elevator speech, their one-minute summary of what they do and what they've achieved.  Without fail their elevator speech is captivating.  It seems that most people have honed their ability to put into a few words the essence of their organization's capabilities and achievements.  But few people can translate that pride and excitement into a longer document that's well written, well structured, and supported with examples, work samples, and the like. 

Until the day when we can transmit our thoughts to one another via telepathy, the written word will continue to be the way to communicate data-intensive information.  So if you can't write well, you don't stand much chance of winning many if any awards.  If you don't write well, hire or contract with someone who does to write your awards entries for you.

Even if you do enter the right categories in the right competitions, and prepare and write your entries extremely well, and win a raft of prestigious awards, they won't mean a thing if you don't translate those wins into meaningful tools, by

* Publicizing your wins to the media and stakeholders
* Congratulating and celebrating your employees for their recognition
* Using the resources provided by awards organizers, such as winners' logos, to create a long-term association between your products and your brand and their mark of excellence. 

Our suggestion?  Get the new year off to a good start by getting and reviewing the entry kits for the Stevie Awards competitions, and consider nominating your organization's achievements in one or more of them.

Get a Stevies Entry Kit

 

Tags: business awards

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