More than a third of hourly, customer service workers feel physically and emotionally drained after an average day’s work. And, with remote work, employees are working more than ever before. At this point, nearly 50% of American employees consider themselves workaholics.
Add in new working conditions and shifting protocols, and it’s easy to see why employees are overwhelmed. With supply chain interruptions and sky-high customer needs, your customer service agents bear the responsibility of keeping customers happy and loyal. It’s time to recognize all their hard work.
This year’s National Customer Service Week is October 4-8, 2021, and it’s the prime opportunity to celebrate all the ways your agents contribute to your company’s success. Whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in-person, use the first week of October to show extra appreciation to your team. We’ve put together five ways to support your team through National Customer Service Week, regardless of where your agents are this year.
1. Send words of encouragement
Hand-written notes are becoming rare, yet they continue to hold distinct power. They take intention and time. And, they leave a permanent reminder of the value of a relationship. Whether your team is scattered around the country, the world, or whether you’re able to meet in person, a hand-written note from managers and executives says a lot. Write your employees notes and mail them to their homes. Make the note personal to each agent’s work and thank them. Then, your agents have a permanent reminder of your recognition. It’s a keepsake that’ll extend beyond 2021 National Customer Service Week – serving as encouragement whenever they need it.
The power of a handwritten note isn’t exclusive to leaders and managers either. Send your call center employees a blank thank you card along with their personalized message. Encourage them to use the blank card to send a peer a positive message. This peer-to-peer recognition and appreciation helps your remote team feel connected and cared for.
2. Internal and external recognition
Recognition is critical for employee engagement and retention. In a report by Halo Recognition, they found that employee engagement increases by 35% when employees get daily recognition for their work.
It’s critical that you make employee praise and recognition part of your 2021 National Customer Service Week celebrations. During the week, consider putting together a company-wide town hall meeting or at least a team meeting to celebrate the success of your customer service agents. Give out rewards, share wins, and give opportunities for the executive team and other teams to show some love.
Recognize your employees internally at the company, and then take the celebration outside of your company, too. Use National Customer Service Week to share wins with your customers. Send an email newsletter to your customers so they get a behind-the-scenes look at the team who supports them. Include photos, bios, and shout-outs for your agents. This will connect your customers with the work your agents do to care for them. Plus, seeing the faces behind a company gives your service a personal touch.
3. Build fun and connection into every day of the week
Have some fun! National Customer Service Week is the perfect time to pack in some fun activities to build community with your team. Employees on remote teams and hybrid offices often struggle with loneliness which can contribute to lower engagement and productivity. Community and culture is harder to build organically with remote teams. It takes intentionality to connect your team beyond the basic video meeting. It’s vital to give your employees space to connect with one another for non-work reasons.
Use Customer Service Week as an excuse to build culture back into your routine. Offer virtual activities through lunchtime and after work hours to give employees time to step away from the stress of work.
A few ways to focus on fun, not work, during 2021 National Customer Service Week:
- Trivia Night: Form teams and host a virtual trivia night for employees and their families. Reward the winners with gifts cards or swag you’ll deliver to their homes.
- Host a Class: Have someone on your team who loves cooking or mixology? Ask them to host a mixology class or a cooking class. Send each participating team member a package full of ingredients. Then, set a time to rendezvous on a video call where a guide will lead the group through a tasty drink or dinner tutorial followed by a happy hour all together.
- Dress-up Days: Set up dress up days for every day of the week. When you hop on calls with your teammates, show off your costumes, share them in Slack, and vote on the best ones at the end of the day.
- Host a Movie Night: If you’re local, set up an outdoor movie night somewhere nearby. Pick up catering from a local restaurant or store for some show-time treats. If your team is remote or not every employee wants to attend, have a movie streaming option for a popular new release and send all employees a snack box to enjoy at home.
- Have Lunch & Learn Sessions: Find out what hobbies and interests your agents have — gardening, fitness, painting, gaming, etc. You likely have some employees who are experts on a variety of topics. Then, allow agents to pitch an idea for a lunch and learn session where they can share a topic of interest with their peers.
- Give Back to your Community: Find a charitable activity your team can do together. Whether it’s a virtual group donation, or an actual activity you can do, pick something local to support as a team.
4. Send out employee surveys
Listen to your employees during National Customer Service Week. Happy employees have a direct impact on the happiness of your customers. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, with every one-star improvement in your company’s Glassdoor company rating, they predicted a 3.2-point increase in your customer satisfaction.
But, employees won’t be happy if they feel unheard. Employees need an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. It can be isolating to hold criticisms of your workplace and have no space to share them. If your employees need more support in a particular area, surveys are a great way to find out. Send out a pulse survey to each member of your contact center team to see how they’re feeling, where they need help, and to learn whether they’re satisfied with their jobs.
Pulse surveys are just step one in gathering feedback from your team. Use pulse surveys to assess what your agents may need to vent about and what they love. Then, use those results to guide further 1:1s with each agent and larger discussions with your team.
5. Hold 1:1s and group meetings to gather employee feedback
In a similar vein to employee surveys, use the week to touch base with your employees through conversations. It’s hard to sense the needs of a person with just a survey. Prioritize meeting with your employees through Customer Service Week, either in 1:1s or with small group meetings.
In your meetings during Customer Service Week, try the following:
- Ask intentional questions to gauge agent satisfaction.
- Give feedback to employees to encourage them and show them where they can improve even more.
- Discuss their goals, career plans, hopes, and dreams to see where you can offer help.
- Talk to groups of agents at a time to see where pain points lie in your processes or resources. Chatting with a group offers a more relaxed setting for those agents who might shy away from feedback 1:1. Then, ask for their thoughts on how to fix them.
- Get to know your employees! Take time to ask them about their personal life, what they’re looking forward to, what they’re passionate about.
Setting aside deliberate time to listen to your customer service agents shows them you care and want them to be part of their journey on your team. While your feedback and celebrations should be frequent and often regardless of the week, use National Customer Service Week as an opportunity to prioritize these moments in your contact center.