Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Polishing Up the Silver Service; Focus New Ways to Boost Customer Satisfaction, Make Work More Fun and Face the Global Challenges Looming over the Professional Services Sector Were All on the Agenda at Service Network's Conference Evolve, as Iain Laing Discovers

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Polishing Up the Silver Service; Focus New Ways to Boost Customer Satisfaction, Make Work More Fun and Face the Global Challenges Looming over the Professional Services Sector Were All on the Agenda at Service Network's Conference Evolve, as Iain Laing Discovers

Article excerpt

Byline: Iain Laing

BUSINESS people must adapt to survive, but they can have fun at the same time. This was the message of 'evolve', last week's fifth annual Service Network Conference, held at Newcastle's Centre for Life.

The conference marked the high point of an extremely successful 10th anniversary year for the Service Network. Membership has increased by more than 25% over the year, mirroring the growth of the Knowledge Intensive Business Services sector it serves.

Service Network chairperson Meryl Dodd said: "This has been the single most exciting year for Service Network and the service industry that I can remember. I am delighted to note the growth of the sector has gone from strength to strength over the last year.

"This has also been a monumental year for Service Network as we celebrated our 10th anniversary. This milestone provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on the achievements of our many members and the success of the sector as a whole.

"Across the last decade, the membership has developed and grown and today the sector generates around 25% of the wealth created in the North-East economy and I am pleased so much of it is driven by members of Service Network."

Attended by more than 100 delegates, the conference heard from Dr Andrea Siodmok, head of design knowledge at the Design Council, who outlined some of the future global challenges facing the North-East's professional service firms as the world moves from an industrial to a creative and service-based economy.

"Service is labour intensive and part of the challenge is to design services that can be made more efficient," she said. "Every industry has to evolve or it will die and the challenge for the UK is how to be world class in delivering customer service."

Jocelyn Maxfield, co-founder of Tom's Companies - which owns luxury spa hotel Seaham Hall, and Newcastle restaurant Fisherman's Lodge - described the history of the company. She emphasised the importance of marketing and public relations in the development of her hotel's reputation internationally. …

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