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Receptionist of the year

Catherine Elston with Russell Hind (left) and Gordon Grant (right)

Two receptionists from the accident repair sector took the honours for the inaugural AM/Accident Exchange receptionist of the year award.

Catherine Elston, of Lloyd Motors Bodyshop in Carlisle, is the AM/ Accident Exchange receptionist of the year, while Lynsey Hodkinson, of Swansway Accident Repair Centre, is highly commended.

They beat off competition from 38 other receptionists from franchised dealers, bodyshops and workshops.

Elston was nominated by her bodyshop manager Russell Hind.

In his submission, he said: “The role of the receptionist is pivotal to the success of our business, which is totally based on customer service.

“Usually the first point of contact, that all-important first impression can be crucial to capturing new business. Catherine encompasses everything that this role is about.

She is an all-round consummate professional and dedicated team player, who is a delight to work with.

“From the moment she meets a new customer, she quickly wins them over with a wonderful air of empathy and compassion. Catherine also possesses a super sense of humour which customers immediately warm to and I have watched in amazement as she wins over the most difficult of customers.

“She keeps regular contact with people to update them of any changes to the repair cycle of their vehicles and by the time the customer comes to collect the repaired vehicle they are like old friends. Loved by customers and colleagues alike, Catherine has a warm and bubbly character that is fundamental to her role and the accolades from customers and business partners seem endless.

“At a time when customer expectations are so very high, and the next awkward customer is only just around the corner, Catherine will make every effort to resolve any complaint, regardless of validity, in order to maintain customer loyalty and to preserve the image of our business.

“That said, she also displays assertiveness when it is required which makes my job much easier, as she has the ability to diffuse situations and deal with them before they get to managerial level.”

Commenting on the winner, Gordon Grant, awards judge and manufacturer account director at Accident Exchange, said: “Catherine outlines most of the competencies and behaviours searched. She majors on being an inspirational team player that sets the standard for customer service.”

Elston collects the receptionist of the year trophy and she will also enjoy a city break for two to New York, spending four nights at a four-star hotel, plus $500 spending money. #AM_ART_SPLIT# Lynsey Hodkinson with Gordon Grant

Highly commended

Lynsey Hodkinson, receptionist at Swansway Accident Repair Centre in Crewe, is Highly Commended.

She was nominated by Peter Smyth, director of Swansway Garages Group.

He said: “Lynsey brings her calm and very capable personality to bear. She is never flustered and remains good humoured, positive and calm in all situations.

“She is efficient and well ordered. She has a genuine insight and interest in the business and derives a great deal of satisfaction out of doing her job well.

“Unlike a traditional aftersales receptionist role, where a vehicle needs to been seen and serviced regularly, the bodyshop receptionist hopes, for her customer’s sake, to never see them again.

This means that the service a bodyshop receptionist gives has to be of the very highest quality, because they need their customer to be so delighted with the service that they tell, friends, family and colleagues about it, thus creating that most valuable commodity – the recommendation.

“Lynsey generates new business through her old customers. You can ask no more of a bodyshop receptionist than to be so efficient, helpful, friendly and polite that customers will take the time to write in praise.”

Awards judge Gordon Grant added: “Lynsey outlines the majority of competencies and behaviours searched. She majors on empathy, reliability and efficiency and is well evidenced with customer testimonials and quotes.”

Hodkinson wins a choice of either a weekend for two at luxury health spa Champneys or a two-night golf break for two.

The judging panel

  • Stephen Briers, AM editor
  • Gordon Grant, Accident Exchange manufacturer account director
  • Sue Robinson, NFDA director
  • Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive
  • Paul Cooper, Institute of Customer Service director
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