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SafeMove, the property conveyancing arm of Yorkshire Water has worked with The WOW! Awards for over ten years. The celebratory and detailed feedback they receive from customer nominations puts the fuel in their fire to push ahead in this highly competitive industry.


SafeMove delivers over 80,000 searches to the conveyancing industry every year. The business is a trading arm of Yorkshire Water, employing a relatively small team of 24 people. It prides itself on a deep expertise in conveyancing and in delivering an excellent, hassle-free service.

The challenge

SafeMove operates in a competitive market and as such has achieved various industry accreditations to reassure potential customers of its expertise. The business started to realise that while these were important standards, they needed to dig a little deeper in order to differentiate their offering.

The business was clear that providing exceptional service would be a key differentiator and route to success that was in reach for them. There was also an appreciation that excellent people offered the route to true customer connections.

Managers searched for a way to maximise this opportunity, not only by motivating their teams but also by publicising the great work they felt was taking place, though all too often going under the radar. They wanted a tool that would deliver personalised feedback to recognise individual efforts.

The WOW! Awards offered the business a process to solicit positive customer feedback and stories with the intention of building on their success.

The approach

Attracted by the simplicity of the idea, SafeMove enthusiastically rolled out The WOW! Awards across the business in 2010. Energy was then quickly fuelled into training colleagues, with an emphasis on how to confidently ask for customer feedback.

Now the awards breed healthy competition between teams. Monthly awards are presented alongside small prizes as a regular celebration of success. The business also holds an annual awards ceremony to plan for the year ahead and to recognise excellent service.

The team feels these celebrations have become more important than ever. Even when working remotely, events are held online and attended by families too (with treats sent out to employees’ children as an added perk). It’s a simple yet hugely meaningful way of bringing everyone together.

Colleagues appreciate the unsolicited and surprise nature of the customer feedback. The frequent colleague to colleague nominations are an indication of the degree to which the teams have engaged in the idea which has shaped their working culture.

The great part about WOW! is that it is such a simple but extremely effective idea. Customer’s do really want to say thank you when one of our team delivers over and above expectations and unlike traditional customer service surveys, the feedback is linked directly back to the person concerned.

Jill Girdlestone

Customer Service Manager, SafeMove

The outcome

A decade on, The WOW! Awards are still going strong for SafeMove with no shortage of uplifting customer stories to tell. Sales colleagues clutch their WOW! books full of these nominations to evidence the service the business is able to deliver.

The WOW! Awards complement several other tools and measures in place at SafeMove. Its role is regarded as that of adding an extra layer of detail to the feedback loop.

The unsolicited feedback we get from WOW! has richness and depth that we don’t get elsewhere.

Victoria Farrell

Service Delivery Manager, SafeMove

The business admits “We didn’t really understand the power of The WOW! Awards until we gave it a go. The value goes far beyond a recognition and reward tool. The awards have become a key initiative in driving SafeMove’s strategic business improvement goals. This is all about positive re-inforcement – we can only replicate something positive once we’ve identified what it looks like.”

SafeMove wisely believes that providing great service through challenging times is a route to differentiation. Celebrating successes that may otherwise go unnoticed has become more important than ever.

The results

Nestled within a rather crowded trophy cabinet at SafeMove now sits the winning prize from the British Quality Foundation UK Excellence Awards (2018 and 2020).

The team’s many successes are largely credited to motivated and upbeat colleagues, something the business really understands the tangible value of. SafeMove’s Victoria Farrell tells us: “We’ve always maintained great people engagement and customer service scores; it’s been a magnificent achievement to see these rise even higher over the years. The two things go hand in hand – a culture of great service and happy people”.

A simple “thank you” for a job well done is extremely powerful.

WOW! therefore not only helps deliver on our customer service strategy but also our engagement strategy ensuring SafeMove is a great place to work.

Jill Girdlestone

Customer Service Manager, SafeMove