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Town Centre’s Customer Heroes Honoured at Awards Ceremony

Published on: 12 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2023

Guildford town centre’s customer stars have been honoured at a celebratory evening at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Now in its ninth year, the Experience Guildford Customer Service Awards, sponsored by St Edward (Berkeley Group) have gone from strength to strength, with nearly 1,100 residents and visitors to the town voting for their customer service heroes.

Ryan Novell of Cafe Nero presents Will Gill and team at Coffee Culture with the Coffee Shops award.

Hosted by Nick Wyschna of the Guildford Fringe Theatre Company, many of the awards were presented by last year’s category winners, and the evening also featured musical entertainment from Rosy Carr and other members of The Guildford Fringe Ensemble.

Experience Guildford (the town’s business improvement district) says nominations for each of the award categories were announced in July, and since then each shortlisted business has been visited by a secret shopper to be finally crowned king or queen of their category.

Rob Packham of St Edward) presents Kevin Rossiter of Timpsons with the Professional Services award.

The 2023 winners are…

Best Customer Service – Pubs, Bars and Clubs – The Fallen Angel.

Best Customer Service – Coffee Shops – Coffee Culture.

Best Customer Service – Restaurants National – Giggling Squid.

Best Customer Service – Restaurants Independent – Gordo’s.

Best Customer Service – Food on the Go – Kokoro (North Street).

Best Customer Service – Health & Fitness – Food For Thought.

Best Customer Service – Hair & Beauty – Sanrizz.

Best Customer Service – Leisure and Lifestyle – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Best Customer Service – Service Providers – Guildford Library.

Best Customer Service – Professional Services – Timpsons.

Best Customer Service – Retail National small – Lush.

Best Customer Service – Retail National large – Anthropologie.

Best Customer Service – Retail independent – Essential.

The awards also include a Shining Star category, designed to offer managers of individual stores or businesses the opportunity to reward their staff members whom they feel should be recognised for their outstanding contribution to the business.

The chief executive of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters (centre), presents Libby Britt, the general manager of the Britannia pub, with the Shining Star Award.

The Shining Star Award 2023 went to Libby Britt, general manager at the Britannia pub.

Libby said: “Winning this award means everything to me. It shows that what I’m doing is the right thing, and having my assistant manager and the team nominate me means the world.

“This award is so important as it shows you have been recognised for the job that you do. It’s not always an easy job, but when you have those positives, when you make someone’s day, it’s all worth it.”

The chief executive of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters, said: “Yet again I am blown away by the incredible businesses of our town, and the incredible support that they all offer each other when it comes to the Customer Service Awards.

“With each year that passes, the calibre of entrants and the response from visitors and residents is just outstanding.

“It’s great to also see these awards now firmly on the business and networking calendar of the year, an evening that the whole town looks forward to in terms of celebrating the very best of Guildford.

“Great customer service is so important to our local economy and the success of our town, but its impact can only be felt when the whole town gets behind the ethos of delivering it.

“Over the last 10 years, our businesses have nailed this, and the result, a thriving town centre that continues to draw in residents, visitors, and new businesses to the area.

“Thank you to all the businesses who got behind the awards again this year and to everyone who took the time to vote.”

Further comments from the award winners and other representatives on the night include:

The Mayor of Guildford, Masuk Miah, presents the Food on the Go award to Kokoro.

The Mayor of Guildford, Masuk Miah, who presented the Food on the Go category award, said: “These awards are great for Guildford, and Experience Guildford has done a fantastic job in encouraging businesses to get involved, and inspiring other new businesses in the area.

The head of land at St Edward (Berkeley Group) Robert Packham, commented: “There are so many synergies with Experience Guildford, the hard work of the businesses of the town and what we are seeking to achieve on our North Street redevelopment.

“We all want to continue making Guildford an amazing place to live and it is so important to keep investing in the town to make sure it doesn’t fall behind.”

Will Gill, the owner of Coffee Culture, who scooped its seventh award in the Coffee Shops category said: “When it comes to great customer service, you can’t just think it’s a job, it’s got to be a love and a passion.

“That’s the ethos we always try to bring to our staff – a love and a passion not just for the product and the shop, but for our customers as well. We have so many loyal and regular customers, which makes this business feel far more than a job, it’s a community.”

Lavinia Sandoz of Olivo restaurant presents Johana Zamora and team from Gordos restaurant with the Restaurant Independent award.

The operations manager and director of Gordo’s, Johana Zamora, first time winner of the Restaurant Independent category, said: “We’ve been operating in Guildford for just one year, and to win this award makes us all feel so happy.

“Since opening, we’re still operating with the same team members, and every single person in the business is special – we’re like a family.

“We really try to be ourselves in the restaurant, and aim to treat everybody as we would like to be treated ourselves.”

Rachel Humphreys of the Star pubs presents Nick Wyschna and Fallen Angel Bar team with the Pubs, Bars & Clubs award.

The managing director of Fallen Angel Bar, Nick Wyschna, who won the Pubs, Bars & Clubs category, said: “It’s amazing to win, we really weren’t expecting it, especially as we’ve only been open for just over a year!

“Our team is just exceptional, truly second to none! They’re predominantly actors and performers, so their level of customer service is so high because they just love being in front of people.

“These awards from Experience Guildford are so important, and I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of recognising someone for their achievements. They say ‘thank you and well done’ to all the businesses operating here, and showcase how great Guildford is.”

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre won the Leisure & Lifetime award.

The director of marketing and customer experience at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Sally Anne Lowe, who won the Leisure & Lifestyle category, said: “We’ve got a great team here and it’s lovely that our customers have recognised that.

“From our box office and front-of-house teams to our wonderful volunteers – of which there are about 100 who regularly help us put every show and event on – the award is a real testament to all concerned working together as a team.

“From the theatre’s point of view, we bring tonnes of customers to Guildford every week, around 130k in a good year, and they don’t just come to the theatre, they also come into the town and eat, shop or just generally enjoy the facilities here.

“Raising the customer service level across the board is not just good for individual businesses, it’s great for businesses across Guildford as a whole.”

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Responses to Town Centre’s Customer Heroes Honoured at Awards Ceremony

  1. Keith Parkins Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    These worthless awards are an embarrassment, sponsored by a developer determined to trash Guildford.

    How large the bung?

    There are far better businesses worth supporting in Guildford. One could be forgiven for thinking a parody.

    Coffee Culture a greasy spoon cafe serving poor quality coffee. Not a coffee shop. Great if like having smoke blown in one’s face. For coffee, Krema.

    Ivonne Arnaud Theatre not only a board member, chair of the board. It is the norm not to be eligible if part of an organisation handing out the awards. Yvonne Arnoud Theatre also hosted the award. A nice little earner. How much did they receive for hosting the award?

    Last year, around 200 people, free drinks all night. How much did it cost? Ms Masters refused to say when asked.

    Money flowed in from the developer, passed through Experience Guildford (who I dare say took their cut), then out to board member Ivonne Arnaud.

    Last year Bear Garden won. They were perpetual award winners. Strange when not open Saturday and Sunday, the two busiest shopping days in Guildford. They too are or were board members.

    The Fallen Angel, award winner, host of thecevening. Another board member.

    #ThisIsGuildford #Guildford

  2. Keith Parkins Reply

    September 13, 2023 at 11:58 pm

    Ms Masters claims a vibrant town centre.

    Does she not notice the large number of empty retail units, homeless people living in the shop doorways?

    Does she not ask her Town Rangers, who fly post the windows of the empty retail units?

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