A station supervisor who drove stranded tourists ten miles through fog to their hotel on his day off has won Northern Rail’s first customer service award.
Gair Urwin from Alnmouth for Alnwick Station in Northumberland was crowned ‘Northern Star of the Year’ in a gala awards ceremony in Leeds.
The judges, including representatives from independent rail passenger watchdog Passenger Focus and Northern’s trade unions, praised Gair for: “…embodying everything that a Northern Star should be. He consistently goes out of his way to help Northern’s customers. His customer service skills are amazing and he has a natural ability to put people at ease and make them feel special.”
Ian Bevan, Managing Director, Northern Rail said: “Gair is a very worthy winner of our first ‘Northern Star of the Year’; he really is a shining example of customer service excellence.
“Since we launched Northern Stars last year, we’ve received thousands of nominations and it has been really encouraging that lots of those have been from customers who have experienced great service from our colleagues.”
Gair said: “I’m over the moon and really honoured to have been chosen! I get to meet so many different customers at Alnmouth, some I’ve known for years but we also get lots of visitors. I really enjoy helping people; it’s the best part of my job, so to be recognised in such a way for it is just the icing on the cake.”
Launched in June 2009, Northern Stars are awarded to Northern employees who really champion the customer. Nominated by customers or colleagues, each Northern Star demonstrates a real commitment to delivering excellent customer service. In all, 37 Northern Stars were awarded throughout the year, and then a panel of judges had the hugely difficult job of choosing one overall winner and three rising stars.
Gair was presented with his award by Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Passenger Focus, and Mary de Sausmarez, Sales and Business Development Director at Kcom, the managed communications provider, and ceremony sponsor. The three rising stars were Jim Dunderdale from Liverpool Lime Street Station, Mansur Khan a conductor from Leeds and Nicola Rayner a conductor from Skipton.
Jim helped a customer who lost his wallet, subsequently missed his last train to London and had no money to pay for a hotel room. Jim not only rang hotels to find the man accommodation but also gave him some money out of his own pocket to buy food and drink.
Mansur stepped in to make sure that a party of 100 pensioners could enjoy the stunning scenery of the Settle to Carlisle line after poor weather meant the train windows were dirty. Mansur used some old newspapers and water from his drinking bottle to clean the windows ensuring the pensioners could enjoy the view.
After receiving an email about a missing person in the area Nicola thought she recognised the description as a customer on her train. She discreetly asked to see the customer’s travel pass again, which confirmed they were the person in the email. Nicola acted quickly ensuring British Transport Police were notified. They met the train on arrival at Leeds and took the person into their care making sure they got the right support.
The gala awards ceremony was sponsored by Kcom, Manchester based event production company Table Eight Productions and design agency Scarlett Abbott, located in York.