We were blown away to win the EDP Business “Customer Excellence” Award in 2021, especially in a category with some exceptionally strong competition and tough judging criteria.
As a result, we were asked to join their webinar on Thu 7th July, to talk about why we got involved with the Awards, our experience of applying, and what benefit it has provided to the business as a result.
For anyone interested, we wanted to share this follow up blog which just gives a bit more info and context on these questions, and to hopefully help you with your awards entry journey and application.
So firstly, this wasn’t our first time applying. Back in 2015, when we were 2 years old, we entered the running’s for the Small Business Award. We were very lucky to be shortlisted after going through the interview process with the inspiring (and slightly daunting) Minnie Moll & Simon Watson, and had a fab evening at the ceremony, but we didn’t win that time. What we did learn was lots from the process and met some brilliant people and forged some lasting relationships. The process made us take some time out to really assess the strengths and development areas for our young business. Time for reflection doesn’t come especially easily (well time in general really!!), so that in itself was invaluable, and we identified areas we could improve to make the business better and better. It was a journey and it still is – I think it is for every organization. SO, if you’ve applied before, without doubt, apply again.
We started the process in 2021 reasonably early. We selected Customer Excellence as our category for several reasons. Not least because it is an area we excel in (obvs!!), but also we really wanted to challenge (some) people’s perceptions of recruiters. We wanted the opportunity to celebrate our teams approach, their exceptional hard work and dedication to supporting candidates and businesses. It’s [a lot] harder to be a recruiter who puts service first, but it’s a darn sight more rewarding, and that is what drives our people – adding value to the process. The Business Awards is an awesome opportunity to get your message out there within the local business community – a fantastic platform.
We learnt from our previous foray, that making time to nail your entry pays off. We started our application process early. We gathered evidence to support our statements. We involved the whole team – they came up with some fresh new perspectives and thoughts which we could incorporate. We identified some stand out moments, and homed in on our differentiators and strengths, and identified how best to talk about them. We were PREPARED.
We put together our application using all those different elements to strengthen it, and then we got multiple people to review it and to challenge it – and we tweaked it. We wanted it to be robust – bullet-proof!! Most of all, it came from the heart. From all our hearts as a team. Service isn’t something that comes from 1 person – it has to be a shared vision – a belief – a desire to deliver as a team.
We made it through to the judging, so that was very exciting! Next step was a virtual call with the judges who probed, explored, challenged and dissected our entry (in a good way!). We were ready for them – we knew that application inside and out and we knew the justification, the pressure points, the examples and MORE. We were prepped and we were ready to handle whatever was thrown at us!!
On the night, we genuinely thought another of the entrants would win. We were up for having a good night and celebrating with them, seeing some friendly faces, meeting some new faces. So, when our names were called, we were SHOCKED. Delighted but shocked. Totally unprepared. Totally in awe of Kanya King. Maybe a few wines down (def didn’t expect to have to make an acceptance speech – whooooops!), but that made it all the more raw, genuine and authentic.
In the wake of the win (post morning after sore heads – it’s a good celebration opportunity), the response, support and opportunities we received were way above our expectations. So many people reached out with their congrats. The award entry and win has absolutely opened opportunities for us as a business. From current client being proud to work with a recruiter who generally has everyone’s best interests at heart, to a huge number of candidate referrals, inbound business coming through from like-minded organizations, the coverage in the press, the opportunity to contribute regularly to features in the EDP, even our recruitment peers reaching out and making referrals to us!
Not only that, but our team felt (and feel) recognized / validated for all of the hard work they do. It can be a tough gig, especially when there are STILL recruiters out there who shortchange clients with a mediocre service (Oh this is a WHOLE other conversation, but I’ll stay off my soap box today 😉). Our amazing team hold themselves to account on service - they WANT to continue to exceed expectations, they WANT to continue to innovate, to improve and they push us to facilitate that in the business. This is interwoven into the R13 DNA – in our values and our ethics – it bleeds through everything we do and we stand for. This process helped us to solidify our brand message.
And in turn, it has formed part of OUR recruitment strategy. We attract people who WANT to do recruitment differently to some of our competitors. Our team has grown with new recruits who also put service at the forefront and value that experience they deliver. People who want to be part of that story and that success.
So – would we recommend getting involved and entering the awards? If you couldn’t guess, we would say 100% YES. A great opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonderful Norfolk business community, promote your strengths, have fun with your team and make new connections.