Customer Experience News & Trends

11 ways to celebrate National Customer Service Week

You probably spend every week of the year touting the customer experience. Very soon, you get to celebrate it. Are you ready for National Customer Service Week?

Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas on the decades-old tradition or just learning about the week set aside to celebrate all the key customer experience players, there’s plenty of time and no shortage of ideas to pull it all together now.

National Customer Service Week kicks off this year on Monday, Oct. 6. It’s been celebrated during the first full week of October since the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) , established it in 1984. Congress then proclaimed it an official national event in 1992.

Key players on a pedestal

It was created to celebrate all the key players in the customer experience: front-line service reps and sales professionals, marketers, customers, support staff and leadership.

“Ideally, the week will be one of celebration and recognition, yes.  But it should also be a week where the contributions — the direct and measurable results of their efforts — should be communicated organization-wide,” says to Bill Gessert, chief experience officer of the Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), which recently merged with ICSA. “After NCSW everyone in the organization should have a deep respect for the importance of the work of their front-line service providers.”

This year’s theme is “Celebrating Customer Connections,” but many organizations pick a theme and use it as an umbrella for different initiatives each day. Meanwhile, other organizations celebrate the week with one or two days worth of events or just one special meal or break. It’s mostly a matter of time and resources — and we have ideas that will fit into any situation.

Some of these ideas come from organizations that have been planning National Customer Service Week activities to celebrate customers, service professionals and colleagues for years. Others serve well as kickoff initiatives to improve their operations in the coming year:

1. Put it out there

Perhaps the most important thing to do with any NCSW celebration is to involve as many people as possible. The more people who understand the impact of service on their organizations, the more likely they all are to support colleagues involved in the customer experience.

Create a schedule of events for the week and post it on the intranet and throughout the company,” suggests Deb Schmidt, author, trainer and owner of Loyalty Leader. “Invite a group of your best customers for lunch to meet your customer service reps in person.”

2. Be stars

Roll out the red carpet — literally. At Baudville, managers replaced carpet runners with red carpet runners at the start of the week. They referred to their service pros as “stars” all week when talking about them to customers and colleagues. They built a walk of fame and provided employees with gold stars for outstanding accomplishments. And they put together fun swag bags as treats toward the end of the week for service pros.

3. Pay it forward

Some organizations use the week to focus on those less fortunate — and it lifts the spirits of those in the organizations, too. Studies show that doing good for those in need is a morale booster for those behind the good deeds.

That’s why the service pros at some companies pick a favorite cause and have fundraisers — such as chili and baked goods cook-offs — and send the proceeds to organizations in need. Others give reps time off during the week to volunteer for local charitable groups such as soup kitchens and home-building nonprofits. One creates a blog on its intranet where all employees can share random acts of kindness and call out colleagues, friends, family and even strangers on the good deeds.

4. Learn more

The focus was quality improvement one year At Northeast Delta Dental. Managers brought in speakers to talk about quality standards and how they fit into the company’s overall goals. Later in the week, they got to strut their stuff. They invited colleagues and the top brass to witness how they work under pressure and help customers while upholding the quality standards that customers had come to expect. Then, for the fun party, they all enjoyed socializing, food and drinks.

5. Get thanks from the top

Customers often thank the people behind the customer experience — and managers usually highlight that praise. The C-Suite doesn’t get the chance to make those personal thank-yous because they don’t get to deal with front-line employees as often.

That’s why supervisors at LifeCell Corp. asked company leaders and major customers to record messages of thanks for their help and special efforts. They played those unexpected messages before the front-line pros settled in to watch a rented movie and eat popcorn during an extended afternoon break.

6. Give extra thanks

Some companies put the emphasis on “Customer” during National Customer Service Week. At First State Bank, someone stands at the door (rather than behind the counter) to greet customers and offer a drink. They also offer to walk customers to a table of treats. The staff members then thanked all customers for their loyalty.

For companies that deal with customers mostly on the phone or online, try offering customers an appreciation discount or small gift when they contact you during NCSW.

7. Arm your front-line employees

Some companies like to spread the love to their colleagues outside of Customer Service and Sales so they can build bonds and internal support.

Service and sales leaders at one California financial services company filled a “prize closet” with stress balls, crossword games, candy and drinks. Then anyone in Service or Sales could grab items to hand out to colleagues in other departments when they were helpful. It went over so well, the firm continues the goodwill effort throughout the year — and continue to have great internal support.

8. Start something better

Customer Service Week can be a catalyst for year-round improvements. Taking the week to gather and plant the seeds is the start.

At KomBea Corp., leaders held “Take Five Lunches.” They invited those who worked with customers to a lunch during the week, and in the casual atmosphere, asked:

  • What’s working with customers?, and
  • How do we take it to the next level?

The second question sparked lots of creative ideas for improvement. The lunch also boosted morale.

9. Play some games

Yes, customer service week should be about fun, in addition to the learning and improving.

Directors at QualCare, Inc., brought the fun and games right into the office with “Sports Day,” during which they strung a net wall to wall so people could play a form of volleyball while standing at their desks. They also created several golf putting greens through walkways and desks. They even had remote control car races and bean bag tosses. They tallied scores and handed out prizes as the end of the game-filled day.

10. Thank customers unexpectedly

Customers kind of expect a “Thank you” or “Thanks for the business” at the end of contacts. They might even expect a thank-you card around the holidays. But taking time to send unexpected thanks during NCSW can leave a year-long positive impression.

For instance, a Utah hospital spent the week sending thank-you notes to customers paying bills, responding to correspondence quickly or doing their paperwork properly. Those customer efforts can easily be overlooked, but they help business relationships run smoothly — and the hospital’s gesture made a lasting impression.

11. Spread the gratitude

Praise and thanks from the boss is great. Getting that kind of recognition from colleagues can be even better.

Leaders at the Institute of Internal Auditors asked colleagues outside of Customer Service to explain in a letter, email or note card how its work helped them. The institute took the notes — most of which included sincere thank-you messages and focused on how service pros’ work made their jobs easier — and created a newsletter for the team to read and keep.

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