LONDON, June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Virgin Trains has renewed its certification in the Recognised for Excellence (R4E) programme at the highest level of 5 stars, following a bi-annual assessment by the British Quality Foundation (BQF). The company, which originally achieved 5 star status in May 2011, improved its overall score by around 20 per cent, with higher ratings for all nine criteria.
R4E is Europe's leading recognition programme for organisational performance and forms part of the EFQM Levels of Excellence. The 5 star rating demonstrates that Virgin Trains continues to perform to a very high standard.
Andy Cross, Business Support Director, Virgin Trains said: "This award is a fantastic result for us and shows that, despite everything that happened with the franchise bid last year, thanks to our people, Virgin Trains has been formally recognised once again as a 5 star business. It will further build our credentials for the next franchise bid, and clearly shows that we are not standing still in the pursuit of excellence in customer service throughout every part of our business."
Joe Goasdoué, Chief Executive, BQF said: "I am delighted to see Virgin Trains' journey to excellence continue with its award of five star Recognised for Excellence once again."
In their Feedback Report the BQF assessors recognised the customer service ethos that is at the heart of the business and which inspires our people. They wrote: "Virgin Trains culture is based around the customer with the aim of providing excellent service and continuously improving the customer experience of travel on its routes. From senior leadership to front line staff it was clear that everyone we spoke with during the site visit has a focus on the customer and seeks to add value wherever possible. Virgin Trains has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of its customer base, both existing and potential, and their needs and expectations. It uses this knowledge to develop and deliver added value for customers e.g. through discounted ticket prices, targeted offers for frequent travellers and organisational groups, improvements to on board services and reduced journey times."
They also praised front line staff. The report stated: "Virgin Trains understands that their front line staff are closest to the customer and as such has devolved responsibility and authority to staff to deal with customer issues on the spot. Staff are trusted to take the correct course of action and are encouraged to come up with ideas for improvements based on their interactions and conversations with customers at stations and on board trains. All the staff we met felt empowered to deliver an excellent service to customers."
Notes to Editors
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Virgin Trains has revolutionised rail travel by creating a high speed, high frequency service that has cut journey times and made rail journeys more comfortable. It has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Glasgow.
Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach. The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded VRG a franchise contract, which started on 9 December 2012 and will run for up to 23 months. The DfT announced on 26 March 2013 a programme for letting future franchises, with the long-term West Coast franchise expected to start in April 2017.
Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous awards. In September 2012 Business Traveller magazine readers voted the company the Best UK Domestic Rail Operator for the sixth year running. In 2011 the company was named Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which it also won in 2009 and 2010). In 2011 Virgin Trains won the British Quality Foundation's Achievement Award for Customer Satisfaction.
Customers consistently rate the company the top long-distance rail franchise operator, as measured by the National Passenger Survey (NPS) run by industry watchdog Passenger Focus. In the most recent NPS (Autumn 2012) overall satisfaction was 92%, our best score ever.
Virgin Trains first achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007 and this was renewed in 2010; the IIP Gold award was achieved in 2011. In May 2013 Virgin Trains renewed it accreditation against the criteria of the European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM) Excellence Model, which it originally achieved in May 2011 The company's Learning and Development team won a National Training Awards 2011 West Midlands award for its Coaching Culture programme.
Notes to Editors - EFQM Levels of Excellence & British Quality Foundation
EFQM Levels of Excellence is Europe's leading recognition programme for high levels of organisational performance. It is suitable for all organisations, regardless of location, size or sector, and is based on the EFQM Excellence Model. With two levels of recognition, it can provide an organisation with a proven route to attaining the highest levels of performance: Committed to Excellence (C2E) is for organisations starting out on their journey towards excellence, while Recognised for Excellence (R4E) is designed to help organisations already well on their way to achieving sustainable excellence.
The EFQM Excellence Model is a management framework used by over 30,000 organisations in Europe and beyond. Developed by EFQM, it is a practical, non-prescriptive framework that can enable an organisation to improve its performance and achieve sustainable success.
Founded in 1993 by Government and leading UK businesses, the British Quality Foundation (BQF) is an independent, not-for-profit, corporate membership organisation. With nearly 600 members spanning the public, voluntary and private sectors, it is the community for every business seeking excellent insights, tools and experiences to improve itself.
As a Primary Partner of EFQM, the BQF is the only organisation able to provide their full range of products and services, based around the EFQM Excellence Model, in the UK. The BQF's Patron is HRH The Princess Royal and current President is David Callaghan, Senior Vice President Alliances and Channels, Oracle Corporation Europe, Middle East and Africa.
For more information on the BQF please visit http://www.bqf.org.uk
SOURCE Virgin Trains