National Customer Service Week: Ways To Show Your Appreciation To Staff
At a time when the use of technology and automation is slowly gaining momentum, the need for human empathy and communication skills remains crucial, particularly in the area of customer service.
In fact, there are a lot of benefits to be gained for businesses who can retain a human touch and are more customer centric in their approach to customer service. And the statistics back this up.
- 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services
- 75% of consumers are more likely to love a brand with a well-functioning and helpful customer service team, that is able to build a strong rapport with them
- Companies that are more customer-centric in their approach, are typically 60% more profitable than their non-customer centric rivals
Customer service is a core means of increasing customer satisfaction and building brand loyalty. So, it needs to be celebrated and those staff working to provide it, supported and rewarded, which is why initiatives such as National Customer Service Week, were first introduced.
Why initiatives like National Customer Service Week are so important
Initiatives like National Customer Service Week are important because they help recognise the value of delivering a great customer service, as well as the efforts of those that work hard to make those experiences happen every day.
However, happy customers aren’t possible without a happy customer service team, as customers can tell when someone is burnt out or unhappy in their role. Consequently, Customer Service Week encourages business leaders to ask themselves how they can do a better job in building processes and policies that will ensure their teams on the frontline feel more supported. This can involve asking yourself questions such as:
Do our support teams have open channels of communication with our leaders to share their feedback?
Do we provide them with the means to connect and share their perspectives?
Do we provide support in areas such as flexible and remote working?
Do we invest enough in ongoing training?
Yet, one of the most important effective things you can do, which will also benefit your customers, is to support your customer service staff. In fact, despite the popular mantra: ‘the customer is always right’, this is not always the case, so your support for staff should also extend to any exceptional scenarios where some customers could mistreat your staff.
Service jobs can be emotionally taxing, and it can be challenging to keep up with the fast-paced and results-driven work of interacting with customers directly. Therefore, it’s also important to show customer service staff that they’re a valued part of your organisation by prioritising their needs and well-being not just for one week, but for the rest of the year.
How surveys can help both your staff and your customers
One of the best ways to check in with your staff, is through one or more of the many types of employee survey that are now available to better understand and improve conditions for them.
From employee engagement and motivation surveys to staff satisfaction, wellbeing, work-life balance and more. Whether it’s more emotional, mental, health and wellbeing type issues affecting your staff, or more physical or practical ones. Whatever it is, with the right survey you can use their feedback to improve working conditions for them, their contentment in their role and how well they support your customers.
Equally if you’re to get a better idea of how this might be affecting your customers, you need to ask them. Once again, the best way to ask them is through a range of customer surveys.
Whether you’re looking to measure their overall satisfaction, to more specific aspects of their experience with you, such as how much effort it took them to interact with you, how enjoyable they found it and their likelihood to recommend you to others. There are surveys to cater for this, as well as more specific areas such as customer service and more.
Ultimately, you want to improve things for both your staff and customers. So, if you’re able to get some survey activities up and running for both audiences, you’ll be well on your way to achieving this.
Ways to thank your staff during National Customer Service Week
While surveys are an essential tool for supporting your staff over the long term, you also need to think about any additional ideas you can bring in to help them feel more appreciated and happier in their roles. And there’s no better way to start this than during National Customer Service Week.
Here are some ideas to think about.
Reward instances of great customer service
Whether it was a customer service representative going above and beyond their obligations to help a customer, who then went on to renew their contract with you, or another staff member managing a disgruntled customer with the self-assurance that enabled that relationship to be saved. Whatever it was, no doubt most of you can easily identify past instances of great customer service that your team has provided.
Take some time out to consider these special moments and what methods you might use to reward them, while selecting a few instances that you would like to spotlight.
So, whether it’s a company certificate or award to celebrate a ‘Top Customer Turn Around’ or a successful customer resolution in an extremely stressful situation, to a gift card or bonus reward for anyone that delivers a positive outcome by going above and beyond. Whatever it is, taking time out to celebrate and reward your staff for their efforts can really make a huge difference to motivation and morale throughout the team.
Let staff choose their own reward
While gift cards and cash rewards are still among the most popular rewards offered by companies to show their appreciation to their staff, you may want to offer them greater flexibility.
For a truly meaningful employee rewards experience, you may consider offering your staff a points-based recognition, so that they can redeem points for a gift of their choosing.
Offer extra time off
Customer service representatives often have some of the most challenging roles. And because they’re essentially the face of your company, the people that contact them are often frustrated, annoyed, or angry about something, which can extremely draining for those teams.
Subsequently, to help boost morale and prevent burnout, you might consider giving your customer service team some extra time off to help with this. For example, every quarter you might give a selection of them the Friday off so that they can enjoy a three-day weekend.
Organise a team-building event
Another idea you might like to introduce during National Customer Service Week, is some sort of team building activity to help strengthen the bonds within your customer service team.
Great team-building activities can take on a variety of forms, and can be introduced inhouse, remotely, or within a hybrid team set up. For example:
- Think about taking an hour at the end of Friday, to relax and play games that will encourage team members to get to know each other better on a personal level.
- Maybe you could host a business retreat to reinvigorate your team and encourage them to engage with each other. There are also virtual retreats if your customer service team is remote.
- Alternatively, business-themed activities, such as a boardroom escape room could help encourage people to problem-solve together. There are even virtual experiences for distributed or remote teams.
- You might also consider having your team participate in a volunteer activity to benefit a local charity.
Introduce new tools to help your staff
Customer Service Week is also an opportune time to think about what more you can do to make things easier for your customer service team.
By chatting with your team to find out more about what aspects of their role they find the most challenging, you can then think about what additional tools or resources you could provide them with to help remove some of this friction.
For example, you might look at getting some new customer relationship management (CRM) software that better tracks customer interactions, activities and other crucial information. Or you may consider updating your helpdesk software to help streamline workflows for staff.
Offer professional development opportunities
Similar to staff in any other field, those working in a customer service environment will appreciate working for a company that supports their professional growth and development. And investing in your team will also ensure that they’re always best equipped to meet any changing customer expectations and demands.
Think about offering your customer service team resources to grow professionally and opportunities to engage in any learning initiatives. Doing this will help reinforce how much you value their contributions and view their work as critical to your business mission.
You could offer them opportunities similar to the following:
- Reimbursement on tuition for employees who want to take courses or seminars
- An available budget to cover those that want to attend workshops or attain certification
- A library of reference resources for team members who want to learn more about industry trends and build their customer service skills
- Subscriptions to industry organisations or publications, such as the National Customer Service Association and CRM Magazine.
When it comes the success of your business, first impressions go a long way. So, it’s important that your customer service staff are always performing to the best of their abilities, so that your customers are left with a positive impression of your company whenever they interact with you. However, you’ll only be able to achieve this if your staff are happy and satisfied.
Fortunately, if you’ve already discovered surveys and are regularly surveying your customer service staff for feedback, you’ll always know how they’re feeling and be able to provide them with extra support, as and when they need it.
Ultimately, we all perform better with the right encouragement and support. So, if you’re not already supporting your staff with surveys, there’s never been a better time to get started.