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The small team that runs Northumberland's biggest single tourist attraction, Kielder Water, has beaten off nationwide opposition to win a second major award for customer service, helped by long-term training partners GNP Ltd.

The Kielder Commercial Team was a winner in the small organisation category of the Daily Telegraph/Energis Customer Service Awards 2000, the UK's largest and most prestigious awards for service excellence. The competition is open to organisations of any size and type operating in the UK.
An initial entry of almost 250 businesses was whittled down to 67 for the final judging.

The award was presented by BBC television news reader Fiona Bruce at a glittering black tie dinner in London's Royal Garden Hotel. The announcement came as a shock to Kielder site manager, Tonia Reeve, who had been nominated to collect the award in the event of victory.

"It was a complete surprise," said Tonia. "There were so many entries from all over the country we had been congratulating ourselves just for getting to the final. We never really believed our small team could go on and win."

In fact the Kielder staff are no strangers to the national award scene. Less than two years ago they won the Customer Care category in the Utility Industry Achievement Awards, which attracted 140 entries from around the country.

With only 16 full-time staff, and seasonal casuals, the Kielder contingent looks after 300,000 visitors a year to the leisure facilities based on and around Northern Europe's largest reservoir.

As well as dealing with a daily stream of visitors, the team caters for holiday-makers in the resort's 32 log cabins, business users of the Leaplish Conference Centre, and diners in the lakeside restaurant.

Part of the final judging process involved 'mystery visitors' testing the front-line services in person and on the telephone.

Leisure Business General Manager John Lackenby said: "I was confident of the Kielder's team's ability to pass any test posed by the mystery visitors, because our abiding principle is that every guest is a VIP. In this, as in so many areas, we have been helped all the way by GNP, who have been a key element in winning both awards. "

Judges praised the high standard of the Kielder entry, including a video produced by GNP showing the team in action and in training sessions.

David Williams


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