Customer Experience News & Trends

7 ideas to pull together a memorable Customer Service Week

It’s time to celebrate the customer experience and everyone involved in making it happen — and here’s our annual help. We’ve pulled together last-minute ideas for a memorable National Customer Service Week.

Whether you’ve been planning for weeks or just had that “Oh, no, I haven’t done anything” moment, we have you covered.

Many companies, experts and customer experience leaders have shared what works really well during the week set aside to celebrate everyone who has skin the customer experience game — front-line service and sales professionals, marketers, customers, support staff and leadership.

This year, National Customer Service Week kicks off Monday, Oct. 3. It has 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.

Why you want to celebrate

Why bother celebrating?

“Ask yourself a really simple question: Would you rather have your customers interact with deeply loyal employees, or employees who can’t wait until their work day is over?” said Bill Gessert, volunteer president of ICSA.

“Study after study shows a clear and direct link between employee engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction, and customer engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction,” Gessert said. “In fact, employee satisfaction is a leading indicator of customer satisfaction. Providing recognition during National Customer Service Week is one way businesses can show appreciation for the work their customer service employees do for them.”

With good reason to celebrate, here are seven ways to make it happen:

1. Make it easy for everyone to participate

Shep Hyken, customer service author and trainer, suggests you print envelopes with customers’ addresses on them. Then hand out the envelopes and thank you cards to employees throughout your company. Ask them to write a quick note that says something like, “I’m Alex in Accounting, and I just wanted to thank you for your loyalty through the years. We’re happy to have great customers like you.” Then get those mailed this week.

Take it one step further: Ask workers outside of Customer Service to write notes to the front-line employees who help customers all year, thanking them for being a positive face of the company.

2. Keep it low-cost

Customer Service week doesn’t have to take a chunk out of your limited budget. Incoming Calls Management Institute gives these ideas:

  • Invite employees or teams to decorate their areas using the week’s theme: One Goal, One Team, No Limits. Award the best work.
  • Fill a jar with candy-coated chocolates or jelly beans and ask front-line employees to guess how many are in it. Reward the closest with a gift card to a local restaurant.
  • Print award certificates and give them to front-line employees to recognize positive things they’ve done for customers and the company.
  • Ask other departments to “host” an event for service pros each day — a snack, lunch or breakfast.

3. Spread the word widely

Use social media to get as many people as possible involved. For instance, a leader at Help Me Choose blogged and posted on social media her plans for five days of team-oriented activities, treats and themes. She wanted to get employees beyond Customer Service and customers to share in the celebration.

She ended her week-long blog by telling everyone who followed it that her organization would use the experiences and training to keep great service alive all year.

4. Get involved locally

You can tie your celebrations into local and seasonal events. For example, Aon Hewitt in North Carolina worked off the local county fair, which took place at the same time.

Employees got raffle tickets and could use them to win entrance passes to the fair. Each afternoon, managers served up county fair treats such as cotton candy, snow cones and candy apples. They also played carnival-like games, such as ring toss and pick-a-duck.

5. Work a cause

Other companies have used the week to have fun and raise money or resources for local and national charity organizations/events such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

One company had a competition between departments to see who could bring in the most toys for a local charity that then gives the gifts to kids in need over the holidays. Another group hosts food cook-offs — featuring chili, cakes and barbecue. They invite everyone in the company to pay for the potluck lunch, test the foods and vote on a winner. The money goes to a charity.

6. Have fun with training

You can use the entire week to brush up on customer service skills.

At Beaulieu Group, they play “Say it & Pay it.” It keeps the focus on maintaining positive attitudes and using positive words with customers and each other.

Employees get a pile of beads — to go along with a Mardi Gras theme — to pass out to colleagues they hear or witness saying and doing positive things. But if they catch a colleague saying negative things — such as “can’t” or “won’t” — he or she has to hand over a strand. At the end of the week, the person with most beads wins a prize. And everyone gets practice staying positive.

7. Get ready for the next year

Other companies use the week to start new service initiatives for the whole year.

“Use National Customer Service Week to establish an Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Task Force,” suggests Gessert. “Find out what your employees want from the time they spend inside your walls and respond to that throughout the entire year. Make employee engagement a year-long commitment. As employee engagement goes up, your customer service will improve on a consistent basis.”

Pull a volunteer group together and give them adequate time, resources and authority to:

  • create training that colleagues want
  • take on service projects employees will embrace
  • initiate wellness programs people need and will participate in, and
  • plan fun activities during and after work.

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