The Stevie Awards Blog

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

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, Mar 02, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Winners in the 14th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, recognized as the world's top customer service awards and sales awards, were unveiled on Friday night at a gala ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada USA, attended by more than 570 executives from around the world.

The complete list of Stevie Winners by category is available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

SASCS20_newsletter

IBM, with 52 Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award wins, was the most honored organization this year, earning the top Grand Stevie Award trophy. Other Grand Stevie Award winners, in descending order, include DP DHL, HomeServe USA, Sales Partnerships, Inc, Delta Vacations, Cinch Home Services, Dell Technologies, DenizBank Financial Service Group, WNS (Holdings) Limited, and Allianz Global Assistance.

IBM won 17 Gold Stevie Awards, the most in the 2020 competition. Other winners of three or more Stevie Awards include: American Airlines, Autosoft, Inc., BlueCat Networks, Inc., BNY Mellon’s Albridge, Buildium, Bounteous, Carbonite, Inc., Chorus.ai, Clarabridge, Concentrix, ConnectiCare, Constant Contact, CoverMyMeds, Covestic, Cvent, Inc., Druva, Enterprise Fleet Management, GoDaddy, Guidebook, Inc., HCL America, Inc., Industrial Security Integrators, Intuit, John Hancock Financial Services, Korea Representative, Lexmark, Loopio, Inc., Mailchimp, Merrill Corporation, Michael Kors, Mobile Labs, MRO Corp, NCR, Nextiva, Nuance Communications, Inc., OneWest Bank, Optima Tax Relief, LLC, Pushpay, QNB Finansbank, RAIN Group, Rimini Street, SAP, SoftPro, SolarWinds, Spinnaker Support, StarHub Ltd, Sun Basket, Tani, The Audacious Agency, The Brooks Group, Tivity Health, Travelzoo, TTEC, Türkiye Vakıflar Bankası T.A.O., UPMC Health Plan, ValueSelling Associates, Veeam, Verimatrix, VIZIO, Inc., VODAFONE TURKEY, VXI Global Solutions, Wells Fargo Treasury Management, Wheels, Inc., Willis Towers Watson, and xneelo.

The presentations were broadcast live via Livestream and are available to watch online.

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

More than 2,600 nominations from organizations in 48 nations were evaluated in this year’s competition. Winners were determined by the average scores of more than 180 professionals worldwide in seven specialized judging committees. Entries were considered in 106 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; 72 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.

Entries for the 2021 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service will open this coming July. The entry kit may be requested at www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

Topics: customer service awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards

Who's Coming to the Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service on Friday?

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 @ 03:51 PM

The 14th annual edition of the Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, the world's top honors for achievement in customer service, business development, and sales, will be staged this Friday, February 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada USA.  More than 600 executives from around the world will attend for the presentation of the Grand, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and People's Choice Stevie Awards.

46281030375_408e2402f8_wFinalists in the competition were announced in mid-January, but the Gold, Silver, and Bronze placements in each category will be revealed during Friday's presentations.  The results were determined by the ratings of more than 180 professionals worldwide on seven juries.

Winners of the People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service, determined by a worldwide public vote, were announced last week.

Entries for the 2021 (15th) edition of the awards will open in July.

Request the entry kit

Here is the list of organizations that will be represented at Friday's event.

A5 Solutions
Access One Inc
Achievers
Agero
AireSpring
Aksigorta
Alliance Data
Allianz Global Assistance
American Airlines
Anexa BPO
Arch Mortgage Insurance
ARIIX
Arkansas.gov
Arzum
Ascentis
Autodesk Construction Solutions
Aweber
AWS
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe S.A.S.
Barclays
Beltone
BlueJeans Network
BMC
BNY Mellon's Albridge
Bounteous
Carbonite, Inc.
Care.com HomePay
CGS
Challenger
Chorus.ai
Cinch Home Services, Inc.
Cisco Systems
CivicPlus
Clarabridge
Cogito Corporation
Command Alkon
Compeat
Con Edison
Concentrix
Conectys
ConnectiCare
Constant Contact
Consumer Reports
Contact Lens King Inc.
CoverMyMeds
Covestic
Cricket Wireless
CyberScout
DataCore Software
Daxko
Dell Technologies
Delta Airlines
Delta Vacations
DenizBank Financial Service Group
DHL Express
DHL Express Mexico
doeLEGAL
Dorel Juvenile
Druva
Dynamic Enterprise Solutions
ECI Software Solutions
EFG Companies
Elevation Home Energy Solutions
EmblemHealth
Enterprise Fleet Management
Envoy
Etech Global Services
ExakTime
ezCater
FCM Travel Solutions
First Advantage
First American Database Solutions
Fiserv
Front
Fundbox
Further
Gainesville Health & Fitness
Grazitti Interactive
Guardian Protection Products, Inc.
Hanzo Archives
HCL Technologies
HCSS
HireVue
HomeServe USA
HUB International
IBM
Integrity Solutions
Intellis Labs
Intuit
iQor
iWave
Janek Performance Group
JDA Software
Jobber
John Hancock
Kira Systems
Kraft Heinz
Kristin Aduna
Learning Pool
Learning Tribes
Legacy.com
Lexmark
Linode
Listrak
LivePerson
Mailchimp
MarketBridge
MediaRadar, Inc.
MEDIATEL DATA SRL
Merrill Corporation
MetTel
Michael Kors
MRO Corp
MTM
Multifamily Utility Company
NCR
Nestle USA
NIC, Inc.
Oi
OmniUpdate
ON24
OneCause
Optima Tax Relief, LLC
OptumCare
Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
OxBlue Corporation
PAi
Panera Bread
Paycor
PipelineDeals
PJ Nisbet & Associates, Ltd
Purchasing Power, LLC
Purpol Marketing
Purpol Marketing Limited
Pushpay
QNB Finansbank
Quantum Workplace
RAIN Group
Rakuten
ReceptionHQ
Regalix
Revenue Storm
Ricoh USA, Inc
RxBenefits, Inc.
Sales Partnerships
SBI Cards and Payment Services Limited
SCAN Healthplan
ServiceNow
SIBME
SIMONA Boltaron
Sisense
Sitel Group
SoftPro
SolarWinds
SolarWinds MSP
Strikedeck
Sun Basket
Support Services Group
Support.com
SurePayroll
Sydney and West Painting and Rope Access Pty Ltd
Tata Consultancy Services
Teachable
Tealium
The Crypsis Group
The Western & Southern Life Insurance Company
TIAA
Tivity Health
Travelzoo
TTEC
Tyson Group
UPMC Health Plan
UserTesting
V Digital Services
Valley Forge Fabrics
ValueSelling Associates
Veeam
Vengreso
VENZA
Verimatrix
VIPKid
Visualize, Inc.
Vodafone Turkey
Vpay
VXI Global Solutions
Wells Fargo Treasury Management Client Delivery
Wheels Inc.
Willis Towers Watson
Wolters Kluwer's ELM Solutions
Wolverine Worldwide Contact Center
World Travel Holdings
xneelo
Xvoyant

Topics: customer service awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards

HCL Technologies to Sponsor Stevie® Award for Leadership in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 @ 11:01 AM

Nominations for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, considered the world’s top honors for customer service, business development, and sales professionals, will be accepted through January 9 at StevieAwards.com/Sales. Late fees will apply for nominations, but no entry fees or late fees will apply for nominations to a new category to recognize leadership in transforming consumer engagement models, sponsored by HCL Technologies.

The Leader in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models category will recognize outstanding examples of individual leadership and innovation in the field since July 1, 2018. As in all other categories in the competition, nominees may submit a written essay or case study of up to 650 words describing their ethical sales practices and achievements or a video of up to five minutes in length, illustrating the same.

Only those with a promotion code supplied by HCL Technologies may submit nominations to the category. To inquire about getting the promotion code, email mohit_si@hcl.com.

HCL_logo_resizedHCL Technologies is a next-generation global technology company that helps enterprises reimagine their businesses for the digital age. Their technology products, services, and engineering are built on four decades of innovation, with a world-renowned management philosophy, a strong culture of invention and risk-taking, and a relentless focus on customer relationships.

HCL Technologies is a long-time sponsor of two other Stevie Awards programs, The American Business Awards® and the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, but this is only the second time that the firm will sponsor the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Maggie Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards, is looking forward to having the longtime Stevie Awards sponsor present this award. “We are gratified that HCL Technologies has decided to use this Stevie Awards platform to recognize those individual executives who excel in using technology to transform how organizations delight their customers.”

Finalists in this and all other categories, based on the ratings of more than 150 professionals around the world in the judging process, will be announced on January 16. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the finalists will be revealed at a gala event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Friday, February 28.

The final entry deadline for the awards is January 9.  GET YOUR ENTRY KIT NOW!

Request the entry kit

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

HCL Technologies to Sponsor Award for Leadership in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 10:18 AM

Nominations for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, considered the world’s top honors for customer service, business development, and sales professionals, will be accepted through January 9 at StevieAwards.com/Sales. Late fees will apply for nominations, but no entry fees or late fees will apply for nominations to a new category to recognize leadership in transforming consumer engagement models, sponsored by HCL Technologies.

HCL_logo_resizedThe Leader in Transforming Consumer Engagement Models category will recognize outstanding examples of individual leadership and innovation in the field since July 1, 2018. As in all other categories in the competition, nominees may submit a written essay or case study of up to 650 words describing their ethical sales practices and achievements or a video of up to five minutes in length, illustrating the same.

Only those with a promotion code supplied by HCL Technologies may submit nominations to the category.  To inquire about getting the promotion code, email mohit_si@hcl.com.

HCL Technologies is a next-generation global technology company that helps enterprises reimagine their businesses for the digital age. Their technology products, services, and engineering are built on four decades of innovation, with a world-renowned management philosophy, a strong culture of invention and risk-taking, and a relentless focus on customer relationships. 

HCL Technologies is a long-time sponsor of two other Stevie Awards programs, The American Business Awards® and the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, but this is only the second time that the firm will sponsor the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  Maggie Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards, is looking forward to having the longtime Stevie Awards sponsor present this award. “We are gratified that HCL Technologies has decided to use this Stevie Awards platform to recognize those individual executives who excel in using technology to transform how organizations delight their customers.”

Finalists in this and all other categories, based on the ratings of more than 150 professionals around the world in the judging process, will be announced on January 16. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the finalists will be revealed at a gala event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Friday, February 28.

The final entry deadline for the awards is January 9.

Request the entry kit

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

Sales Partnerships to Sponsor Ethics in Sales Award at Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Nov 13, 2019 @ 03:37 PM

Nominations are open for honors to be presented in Las Vegas on February 28

Nominations for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, considered the world’s top honors for customer service, business development, and sales professionals, will be accepted through January 9 at StevieAwards.com/Sales. Late fees will apply for nominations, but no entry fees or late fees will apply for nominations to a new category to recognize ethical sales practices, sponsored by Sales Partnerships.

SASCS_postcard_graphic

The Sales Partnerships Award for Ethics in Sales will recognize outstanding examples of ethical sales practices since July 1, 2018. As in all other categories in the competition, nominees may submit a written essay or case study of up to 650 words describing their ethical sales practices and achievements or a video of up to five minutes in length, illustrating the same.

Sales Partnerships, Inc., which provides turnkey, outsourced selling solutions, is a sponsor of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service program for the fourth consecutive year. Founder and CEO Fred Kessler says, “The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service has grown to be the premier honor for sales professionals worldwide, and it’s proven to be an outstanding platform on which Sales Partnerships can interact with sales leaders in a wide variety of industries. When we were approached about sponsoring an award for ethics in sales, we immediately accepted. The Sales Partnerships’ Award for Ethics in Sales recognizes companies who, like us, understand that being the best performing sales force also means having an uncompromising focus on selling ethically.”

Interested in entering the 2020 Stevie Award for Sales & Customer Service?

Request the entry kit

Maggie Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards, is looking forward to having the longtime Stevie Awards sponsor present this award. “We are thrilled that Sales Partnerships has decided to recognize those not only who succeed in sales at their organization, but who do so in a particularly ethical manner. The judges are eager to read through these Ethics in Sales nominations.”

Finalists in this and all other categories, based on the ratings of more than 150 professionals around the world in the judging process, will be announced on January 16. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the finalists will be revealed at a gala event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Friday, February 28.

Complete details on the competition, including how to participate, are available at www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

Topics: customer service awards, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, sales awards, The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Entry Deadline for 14th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service Approaching

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Top Sales Awards and Customer Service Awards Deadline November 13

The Stevie Awards, organizer of the world’s premier business awards programs, is accepting entries for the 2020 (14th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Entry kits and complete details on the competition are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/Sales.

SASCS2020_entry deadline

All customer service, contact center, business development and sales departments, teams and professionals worldwide are eligible to be nominated, in addition to new products and services and solution providers used by those professionals. The 2020 awards will recognize achievements since July 1, 2018.

The entry deadline is November 13, but late entries will be accepted through January 10, 2019 with payment of a late fee. Finalists will be announced in mid-January, and the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements revealed during a gala awards banquet on February 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Interested in entering the 2020 Stevie Award for Sales & Customer Service?

Request the entry kit

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 150 sales awards, customer service awards, business development awards, new product awards and solution provider awards categories. Entrants may submit any number of nominations to any number of categories.

New categories for the 2020 competition include Sales Enablement Program of the Year, Sales Incentive Program of the Year, White Paper or Research Report of the Year, Customer Service Training Professional of the Year, Customer Service Training Team of the Year – External or Internal, Best Customer Engagement Initiative, and Customer Service Training or Coaching Program of the Year.

2020 will see the return of the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Customer Service, a popular feature of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service in which the general public may vote for their favorite providers of customer service, from among all finalist nominations in the Customer Service Department of the Year categories.

Winners of the 2019 edition of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service included 1-800-Flowers.com, Bank of America, Birevim, BNY Mellon's Albridge, ClassicCars.com, Comcast, Dell Technologies, GoDaddy, HomeServe USA, SolarWinds, Southwest Airlines, Vivint Solar, VIZIO, Inc., and Wolters Kluwer's ELM Solutions.

The 2020 competition will be judged by more than 150 professionals around the world.

Topics: customer service awards, sales awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Take Care of Your Payment Blues with BluePay

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 @ 10:31 AM

The payment environment is becoming more diverse as many vendors are able to offer different methods for payment solutions. BluePay, a provider of technology-enabled payment processing for merchants and suppliers of any size, offers fast and secure payment processing solutions to fit every business’s needs. The leading single-source payment technology from BluePay has been helping businesses for over 15 years by streamlining functions, reducing operating costs, and increasing revenue. This is why they’ve won the Gold Stevie in the Best Product or Service of the Year category, a Silver Stevie for Company of the Year, and a Bronze Stevie in the Customer Service Team of the Year category.

Pleasant Paying

Being a payments technology company means staying ahead of the curve by developing solutions for new ways to pay like Apple Pay, PayPal, and wearable technology to purchase goods and services with ease. Jennifer Seebock, Marketing Coordinator at BluePay, says their merchants grow their businesses by offering the services they need to attract new customers.

"Through point-of-sale, online, mobile, and software integration, we proudly serve over 47,000 merchants and process $14 billion in transactions annually.” BluePay is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, with offices in Chicago, Maryland, New York, and Toronto.

bluepay

Recognition

Receiving payments online can be risky business as technology advances and electronic theft becomes more complex. Seebock relays why BluePay takes this seriously and considers winning awards as a way to celebrate hard work and genuine innovation.

"Winning Stevie Awards benefits our entire organization and provides opportunities to tell the world BluePay is a great company and offers leading products and services."

She goes on to say prospects are more inclined to choose their company for payment processing knowing they are recipients of such prestigious awards. The awards provide a sense of confidence for their merchants, partners, and financial institutions.  They also increase brand awareness.

"We have a goal to increase our brand awareness through award recognition, and the Stevies were on top of our list."

Charitable Culture

BluePay believes one of their differentiators is their company culture. They recently raised funds for U.S. servicemen and women through the Wounded Warrior Project. The president of the Canadian division is doing the Race Across America (RAM) with Team True Patriot Love to raise funds for the Canadian Armed Forces. Seebock details how they donate time and efforts to important causes.

"We recently implemented a program for charitable time off and corporate donation matching to encourage our team to give more to their communities. For over eight years, we have contributed a percentage of our profits to the Chicagoland Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and have "pink" parties in October."

Frictionless Service

BluePay also engages in fun activities like Blackhawks games, Bulls games, golf outings, summer picnics, and off-site meetings to encourage creativity. With a common goal to be the leader in payments technology, all their teams work closely with "Voice of the Customer" surveys and formulate teams to address concerns or bridge the gaps in their processes to make working with BluePay frictionless.

"We’re proud to have a high-performing workforce delivering outstanding services and solutions."

_________________________________________________________________

Interested in winning a Stevie Award for Best New Product or Service? Or maybe for Customer Service?

Request the entry kit here.

Topics: customer service awards, new product awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service

A Fresh Approach to Workplace Communications

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, May 21, 2019 @ 01:06 PM

For many employees in the corporate world, checking email is the most time-consuming activity of each workday. Despite this, innovation in email has been, arguably, lacking as compared to other forms of productivity software.

That’s where the app Front comes into the picture. The company offers a tool that lets workers combine their multitude of communication platforms, from internal messaging to email, into a single interface.

“By working on the most critical tool people use to get work done, we felt we could improve things on a large scale,” says Front spokeswoman Heather MacKinnon.

front app pic

The firm, which is based in San Francisco, California, United States, believes it can help users save time by allowing them to access multiple communication channels—including social, SMS, chat, and calls—in a single app. Want quick feedback from your coworkers? By using mentions and comments instead of email, you can reach teammates instantly.

“There are very few knowledge workers who only communicate internally,” MacKinnon says. “From customers to partners, candidates to vendors, external parties have significant sway over what we work on and when.

“Yet these communications today, which largely take place via email, remain in a silo. They’re cut off from the rest of your team, as well as the other tools you use to do your job,” she says. “It’s part of the reason why email is the universal communication tool for work that is also universally hated.”

While apps geared toward internal communication are getting some buzz—the increasingly popular Slack is a prominent example—MacKinnon notes that workers largely rely on tools that have been around for a long time when they want to reach people outside their companies.

“Email hasn’t been significantly updated since Gmail introduced threading in 2004,” she adds. “Despite being the universal communication tool for work, email has only been incrementally improved over the last 15 years and has never been re-architected for the way people work as a team. Front is changing that.”

One of the ways the company is trying to revolutionize communication is by integrating other data sources, whether it’s CRM tools, such as Salesforce, or project management software, such as Asana and Trello.

All-Hands Approach to Customer Service

The roots of Front go back to Paris, France, where founders Mathilde Collin and Laurent Perrin started the business in 2013. The following year, the start-up made its way into Silicon Valley’s famed Y Combinator.

Packed into a home in the Bay Area of California, United States, the initial team of five employees lived and breathed the product for several months. It was a grueling experience, but one the company’s leadership still views as an integral part of the company’s development. The accelerator not only tested the company’s concept but exposed it to business prospects it wouldn’t have otherwise had. In just six months, Front amassed a staggering 3,000 beta testers.

This momentum hasn’t slowed. In 2016, the company was able to secure $10 million from its initial round of funding, and two years later, it gained $66 million of investments from a team led by Sequoia Capital.

Today, more than 5,000 businesses around the world use Front. MacKinnon suggests it’s not just the features of the app attracting those clients. The company also focuses on providing superior customer support in order to ensure users get the most out of their experiences.

Naturally they’re using their own tool to help do that. The team, now more than 100 strong, has shared inboxes in Front for its customer surveys, feedback emails, and support inquiries. All staff members have access to the inboxes, so they’re able to keep apprised of how users feel about the product.

MacKinnon says the company, which was recently named a StevieⓇ Awards winner for Customer Service Department of the Year, also emphasizes a “low-ego” ethos, which encourages workers to keep striving toward excellence. During its regular all-hands meeting, for example, staffers are encouraged to share their “Stumbles of the Week.”

“By encouraging employees of all levels—even our CEO and other leaders—to openly discuss their mistakes, we create a culture of humility and continuous improvement,” says MacKinnon.

Topics: customer service awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, entrepreneur awards, entrepreneur of the year

Use Fun Surveys to Gather Valuable Customer Feedback

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 12:21 PM

We all get them from time to time: emails from places we’ve shopped promising “quick” surveys in order to assess the buying experience. Most customers, however, soon learn the process is rarely as swift as advertised.

While it’s not hard to see why response rates to these survey requests tend to be abysmally low—often less than 10 percent of consumers to whom they’re sent respond—British entrepreneur Lindsay Willott is trying hard to increase that number.

Her solution is an email survey individuals can complete with just a single click. Rather than making customers navigate a series of questions about various aspects of the business encounter, she’s selling clients on the idea that simple is better.

customer thermometer

When consumers get a survey from her eight-year-old company, Customer Thermometer, they have just four options: gold (very satisfied), green (happy), yellow (mildly concerned), or red (dissatisfied).

Because of the survey’s concise nature, clients can choose any number of delivery options, including emailing the survey to subscribers or embedding the quick poll into their help desks or marketing automation apps. Companies can even place them into the email signatures of their employees, allowing businesses to track how each team member is performing.

A New Level of Response

Prior to launching Customer Thermometer, which is based in Oxford, England, United Kingdom, Willott ran a marketing agency that sent out annual customer satisfaction surveys. She says the firm never had an effective way to link that feedback to a specific customer experience, which limited the value of the response.

“Customers were leaving without warning and often for reasons that could have been fixed, had we known about them in advance,” she says.

Willott came to the realization that a dramatically stripped-down approach to surveys was not only a lot quicker but had the potential for much better response rates. Nine months pregnant with her son, she sold the agency in 2010 and began working on her new customer feedback venture.

It was a bold move—and not simply because she soon had a baby to care for. For one, Willott admits she did not have much in the way of technical experience, a significant hurdle for any software-based business. After extensive research and planning, she partnered with local developers to get her idea off the ground. Four months later, the app was ready for launch.

“Early on, we focused on the UK market. We signed up a few customers, including [the telecom firm] BT Group, which was our chance to really understand how people wanted to use the product,” says Willott.

Eventually, several foreign companies heard about the service and signed on.

“It wasn’t until four years ago we really realized the potential of the overseas market and made a concerted effort to grow our international business,” she says.

Customer Thermometer managed to amass a litany of big-name enterprises to its client list, including Dollar Shave Club, Sonos, and the job-searching website Indeed.com. In total, the company now has nearly 2,000 customers in more than 60 countries.

Companies aren’t left with troves of data for analysis, but they do get a sense of what their customers’ overall experiences are like. Some of Willott’s clients now enjoy survey response rates of 80 percent or higher—a number that is far beyond the norm in the marketing research field.

“Our vision is to create surveys that customers actually love responding to because they use such a light touch and are fun,” says Willott.

It’s not just about having a sound idea, though. Willott says her small team of eight employees also makes sure customers get a high level of service to ensure positive relationships. Recently, Willott and her team became finalists for Customer Service Department of the Year in the Computer Software category at the upcoming 13th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Interested in entering the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service?

Request the entry kit

“Our core values are caring about each other, accountability, and a genuine belief that amazing customer service feels like magic,” the executive adds.

Topics: customer service awards, new product awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service

One Canadian Firm Believes the Right Software Can Help Governments Become Smarter Shoppers

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Apr 25, 2019 @ 10:49 AM

MTC, the transit planning entity for the area around San Francisco, California, United States, is responsible for ensuring residents of the bustling California community get to work and back home again efficiently. Until recently, though, “efficient” wasn’t exactly the way to describe the agency’s process for managing vendors.

All submissions were still done on paper, making it hard for the MTC staff to score and to aggregate proposals in a timely manner. As a result, it took around two to three months to complete a typical request for proposal (RFP).

That all changed when the commission turned to the Canadian software firm Bonfire Interactive, which was founded in 2012 and specializes in streamlining the procurement process for public sector clients. By converting its antiquated process to Bonfire, MTC was able to reduce the RFP time to around thirty days while improving its reporting capabilities.

bonfire

MTC certainly isn’t the only public entity hampered by wasteful and inefficient internal processes, but the roughly ninety-employee team at Bonfire is trying to turn that around.

To hear the management team at Bonfire talk about it, the company’s mission isn’t merely about gaining market share but doing good for society in the process.

“The people behind Bonfire aren't just building purchasing software solutions; they're enabling organizations to turn the purchasing function into a powerful lever that can improve the world,” says Meghan Hennessey, the company’s marketing communications manager.

Ultimately, she believes, when public entities get more out of every dollar they spend, the public is better served.

“Increased fiscal efficiency means patients in hospitals can benefit from better equipment and receive better care. Municipal citizens can experience safer means of transportation, and schools can have proper resources for a more enriched learning landscape,” says Hennessey.

There Must Be a Better Way

Born out of an incubator in Silicon Valley, a region in San Francisco, California, United States, Bonfire, which is based in southwest Ontario, Canada, has developed an impressive client list that includes the Chicago Board of Education, the University of Massachusetts, and the city of Dallas, Texas, United States. In the process, its revenue has grown an impressive 225 percent annually.

“Through various experiences in my career, I witnessed the time, energy, and frustration that went into thousands of RFPs,” says Corry Flatt, the cofounder and CEO of Bonfire. “Every time I thought, There must be a better way, it turns out there wasn’t. Eventually, in order to address that problem, Bonfire was born.”

By initially focusing on governments, the company bucked a trend within the tech industry, which often tailors products to private businesses. According to Hennessey, however, that’s why it made sense to move in the other direction.

“There’s an entire blue ocean of opportunity when you step away from the commercial sector,” she says.

Through it all, the Bonfire management team emphasizes client satisfaction, helping the company become a Silver Stevie-winner for Customer Service Department of the Year in the Computer Software category at this year’s Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Today, the company’s software as a service (SaaS) solution handles more than $20 billion of procurement activities, and Bonfire expanded its portfolio to include private-sector users, such as the global accounting firm BDO.

In 2018, US-headquartered GTY Technology Holdings purchased Bonfire for $108 million. In an effort to provide a full cadre of services to public-sector organizations, including everything from budgeting and permitting to grants management and procurement, GTY Technology Holdings also acquired five other firms in the government technology field.

“Legally, what’s happening is an acquisition and a merger, but it’s more like they’ve assembled a team of stallions, and they’re letting them all run,” Flatt said in a statement after the deal. “For us, our employees, and our clients, it’s just a really good news story.”

The purchase will ultimately allow the firm to boost its marketing efforts to both public and commercial clients and to develop additional product capabilities, including predictive analytics. It also expects to substantially increase hiring at its offices, which are about a mile west of Toronto, Canada.

For Hennessey, the deal means the ability for organizations to make better use of their financial resources, which she reaffirms is most rewarding part.

“To paraphrase a famous quote, the smartest minds of our generation have spent the last decade figuring out how to get you to click on ads,” she says. “Today, though, that's not good enough. People want their creativity and energy poured into something that matters.”

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