NI Company Wins Gold for Service Excellence

Northern Ireland company A F Davison Ltd are celebrating after recently becoming the first haulage company in Ireland to win a prestigious EFQM Gold Star for Service Excellence.

AF Davison_1

Representatives from the company were invited to attend a special reception at Banbridge District Council Civic Building on Tuesday 16 September where they were honoured by Council Chairman, Councillor Marie Hamilton in recognition of their of achievement.

The EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) Gold Star Excellence programme was a joint business improvement initiative between Banbridge District Council and the Centre for Competitiveness. The programme was designed to aid local companies in implementing effective international customer service practices, thereby benefitting the companies both at home and abroad.

A F Davison Ltd enrolled in the programme in early 2013 and were awarded the Gold Star in June 2014. The company was established over 40 years ago and have proven record in placing a high value on providing the best level of service possible, a fact highlighted by their motto, ‘Dedicated to Service’.

Speaking of their award, Allan Davison, Managing Director of A F Davison commented: ‘‘Here at A F Davison Ltd we pride ourselves on delivering the highest level of service. We really appreciated the support from Banbridge District Council and the Centre for Competitiveness giving us the opportunity to enrol in and complete the EFQM Gold Star Service Excellence programme. Achieving the Gold Star Award is fantastic external recognition of the work we do and the level of service we strive to achieve.  In today’s competitive market it is more important than ever to put your customers first, meeting their needs and more, and so A F Davison Ltd motto continues to be implemented and displayed with pride – Dedicated to Service”.

Minister Launches Gold Star for Customer Service Excellence

A word from the Minister at the launch of Gold Star for Customer Service Excellence Recognition Scheme on 23 June 2011.

A healthy and vibrant SME business community is vital if we are to grow the private sector, rebalance the economy and create new jobs. Northern Ireland, as a relatively small regional economy on the periphery of Europe, faces significant economic challenges.

The capability of our SME community to compete in Europe and further afield is essential if our private sector is to grow and prosper.

The ‘Gold Star’ for Customer Service Excellence Recognition scheme implemented by the Centre for Competitiveness, working with NI Chamber of Commerce and The Consumer Council, is a significant milestone in the area of business support.  The pilot programme of six companies has been particularly successful with the participants all reporting tangible and real business impact.

I welcome the opportunity to launch the Gold Star Scheme, which will help small and medium businesses develop the world-class levels of customer service that will help them to compete effectively on the global business stage.


Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Industry

Arlene Foster

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment


Airporter Wins Gold Star

This is a really good example of the work I do with clients. Airporter is a family run business based in Derry/Londonderry that runs the bus to the Belfast airports service. In September 2010 they enrolled in the Gold Star for Customer Service Excellence programme. I worked with them over a period of six months, and they were accredited Gold Star on 15th April 2011. They were presented with their Gold Star certificate on 23 June 2011 by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster MLA.

I worked along side the company at key stages in the Gold Star organisational development process, facilitating workshops, coaching staff, bringing insights and a fresh perspective on designing processes to deliver sustained and repeated world-class customer service. This was very much a ‘do it with you’ facilitation, transferring skills as we went thus ensuring  maximum impact. Here is a short mini case study setting our some of the early wins and benefits. If you prefer you can watch the short film! –

Company Name: Airporter

Address: 1 Bay Road, Culmore Road

City Derry~Londonderry       Post Code BT48 7SH    Tel 02871 269996

Contact Name Jennifer McKeever             Position Director


Company Background

Airporter is a family run transport company based in Derry/Londonderry providing a direct scheduled coach service connecting the North West with the 2 Belfast Airports. The business was established in 1996 and now carries 80,000 passengers a year and employs 20 people. Airporter has developed a reputation for being an industry leader in innovation and quality of service. In 2009 Airporter was the first coach company in Northern Ireland to introduce free WiFi on board the whole fleet and in 2010 introduced the first online reservation system for coach travel in Northern Ireland.

Why we committed to “Gold Star” Customer Service Excellence

We were looking for a system to ensure consistent delivery of service and best practice across the whole organization, a way of defining everyone’s responsibilities with regards to how we treat our customers, and ultimately, a way of promoting our customer service standards to attract more passengers.

Reaction and Impact

The reaction from staff was excellent, and the results from the first audit were startling: we could clearly see that while the management team were involved with activities which clearly addressed Customer Service excellence, we weren’t sharing nearly enough with the staff so we had many areas of what Adrian called “divergence”. We also found that while there was clearly an ethos of customer service, we had a great deal to do to clearly define what was expected by staff, management and customer. We began with customer service training (including Customer Service NVQ’s for 13 staff members) and then began to put in place tangible guidelines including a Customer Service Charter, a staff handbook and set up monthly team meetings. While we were delighted to have successfully achieved our accreditation, we are even more pleased with the process and the results at the end of it.

Expected Medium & Long Term Business Benefits

  • A more empowered staff who are better trained to deliver excellent service and to promote the company and our values.
  • A better communication channel with our customers to ensure we are developing in a way that is responsive to their needs.
  • A more comprehensive system which captures complements, complaints and comments and tracks the progress of improvements
  • A more defined brand for Airporter, which encourages our customers to leave their cars at home and use the Airporter.
  • A more structured approach to business planning which will make expansion more ambitious, more profitable and more organized
  • A better management system including new KPI’s and definition of success.
  • Ultimately, a more stream lined and profitable company making Airporter a role model for small businesses in transport and beyond.
Intention to Work Toward “Gold Star” Role Model – Yes!!!!!

Airporter - the bus to the Belfast Airports