Monday, Oct. 1, kicks off the week-long celebration dedicated to customer service agents: Customer Service Week. Your agents tirelessly serve customers and make your companies better. And they do it while worrying that an angry soccer mom might negatively rate her experience in her post-interaction survey and tank their metrics. They absorb the negativity of frustrated customers, and they work insanely hard to turn those frustrations into positive experiences. Customer service is an incredibly important profession, and it’s an understatement to say that your agents don’t get the credit they deserve and feel underappreciated. This week is just a little way to build trust and recognize that they invest so much hard work to serve customers in your contact center.
We created a sample, week-long agenda filled with meaningful activities for agent recognition and empowerment. Don’t clutter their desks with branded pens and keychains. Instead, focus on giving them the recognition they’ve rightfully earned, and help them grow. Here’s the Monday through Friday rundown of powerful activities you can incorporate into your October 1-5 work week. Feel free to get creative and modify the agenda to the needs of you and your team, too!
Monday: Hold a kick-off meeting for the week ahead.
Use this time to show your team genuine appreciation for what they do, and let them know about your plans for the week. Rally your team around the celebrations for the week, and get them excited for what’s to come. Also, take this time to tell them what you won’t do this week. Genuine appreciation isn’t about showering them with useless swag or ordering pizza from the cheap joint down the street.
Get on their level, and let them know you’re aware that cheap eats and branded gifts don’t make their jobs easier. Instead, recognize that their jobs are hard, and let them know how thankful you are for their effort each day.
Write personalized thank you cards for each of your agents, and deliver them at this team meeting. (Hint: personalized doesn’t mean writing different names in each card and keeping the message the same. Personalize the message to fit each of your agent’s roles and accomplishments, too). Use this time to share some of your favorite stories over the past few months, and acknowledge that these agents pour so much time, energy, and emotion into each and every day.
Once you’ve kicked things off, try a new exercise to raise spirits and encourage positivity for the week. Have everyone fill out a Moment of Magic® card. This is customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken’s favorite exercise. You give each agent a postcard, and they write down one positive customer service experience they created. It piles together the best possible scenarios of agent experiences and creates the giant stack of WHY behind all of your jobs. This exercise gives you tons of information and valuable stories to share all week long, too.
Tuesday: Invite a guest speaker or run a lunch and learn to teach important skills.
Perks are great, but job security and career progression are better. Your agents suffer from burnout and low morale because they don’t feel supported and coached the way they need to be. Use this week to show that you don’t care about the fluff, you want to actually improve their experience. And that experience starts with better training and coaching.
Bring in a guest speaker who can speak to career advancement opportunities or professional development, tailored to your team. If this is too much of a time crunch, then recruit an internal employee to host a lunch and learn and teach on important topics and life skills. Sparking these conversations on the job will give your agents a safe place to talk about their career aspirations. Then, you’ll gain insight and can collect feedback, so you can chat with them on how you can be a resource and help them progress. (Kicking off these conversations later in the week in conjunction with all the other celebrations is a fantastic way to keep motivation high, too).
Host a lunch-hour event. Speaker series and lunch-and-learns are incredibly quick and powerful ways to develop your team and create smaller, more interactive coaching opportunities that engage your agents. Let them know attendance is optional, that way those who aren’t interested in the topic or just want to decompress won’t feel obligated to show up. You can set up a few different sessions and have sign-ups too, so your whole team won’t be offline at once. Here’s an article with tips on running a successful Lunch-and-Learn. (Pro tip: get catered lunch for the event. Restaurants like Panera, Jimmy Johns, and McAlister’s offer boxed lunch options that you can order without much notice).
Wednesday: Have your leadership team swap roles with frontline agents.
You and other leaders in your company can switch places with your agents for an hour or two to field some calls. Recruit your fellow managers or customer service team leaders to participate, so you can relive what it’s like to handle dozens of interactions at a million miles a minute. And for an added kicker, let your agents give you and the other leaders direction, too. This gives your agents the opportunity to get a feel for different leadership roles, so they can gauge their interest as they work to develop their career paths.
At the same time, your current leadership will get nitty-gritty exposure to customer interactions.They’ll see where the job gets really tough, so they get inspired to create more coaching opportunities for agents. Or, they’ll see common customer trends emerge and know where additional self-help resources might benefit customers. The role swap will bring new perspective and insight to the company
Thursday: Host a recognition ceremony, and share your favorite positive vibes.
Reserve the intro of the ceremony as a space to share the Moment of Magic cards you compiled. Email the stories to the team before the awards ceremony for a cost-efficient alternative (and shout a few out during your introduction), or go old-school and print the stories to give everyone a copy when you start the event. One idea that adds some spunk: create a flipbook with the stories and distribute them to each agent. You can get one printed by a self-publishing company with speedy turnaround like LuLu, or print the stories at FedEx, cut them out, and bind them together with staples or string. Nothing fancy. Then, your agents will have a small, tangible reminder on their desk each day to help them remember their WHY.
Continue the celebration with an awards ceremony to recognize each agent for their unique contributions to the team. Create people-focused awards like “Most likely to start a customer’s day with sunshine” over the “Most likely to hit key metrics” awards. Invite your executive leadership team to the ceremony, so they can show their appreciation, too.
Friday: Give them some added downtime.
Consider turning off the phones for a few hours. That’ll give everyone a break and the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend and replenish. Plan ahead. Send communications to your customers to let them know the call center will be closed for a designated time period, so you can celebrate your employees. You may think this will off put your customers and leave them hanging with no help, BUT the truth is, your customers will appreciate this sentiment. They know if your agents aren’t treated well, the customer experience will suffer, too. A majority of people will actually value that you’re giving your team a break. And it will build more trust and a better connection with your brand.
You can opt to create email auto-responses saying that replies will be delayed. Or, even ask key members in other departments if they’d be willing to handle chat requests for a bit. There are several ways you can curb the impact of a few hours of downtime. And, if you simply can’t make the call to tack a few much-needed hours on to your agents’ weekend, then at least encourage everyone to leave for a long lunch break and end-of-week celebration.
Your recognition and celebration of your agents shouldn’t exist only one week of the year, of course. But it serves as a good reminder to step back from the daily hustle to improve your agents’ lives. Rally around your team, and build them up during this week. Then, use that momentum to keep the positivity going all year long.