BY BRUCE BELFIORE | September 30, 2021
True, it’s not Independence Day or New Year’s, but Customer Service Week (CSW) still deserves special thought and celebration this year – a year of continuing pandemic. It comes between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, which is appropriate. After all, good customer service involves a lot of work, and if we do it right, we have a lot to be thankful for.
I invite you to listen to the attached video on Why You Matter as a customer service professional
So: Are you making the most of CSW for your center in 2021?
It is worth your while to make it a Customer Service Week that you and your colleagues will appreciate. I’ll share some ideas from past years, and add on others prompted by the pandemic.
Consciously Leverage the Opportunity
Customer Service Week only comes once a year, so take advantage of it to plant seeds and take some modest risks that might be more difficult in the absence of this special week.
For example, you might call a team meeting with agenda questions like: “What was your biggest “aha” moment in customer service this past year?” “Name something you learned from a colleague about excellent customer service during a break or over lunch?” “How did the pandemic change things for you” and “What was the most positive thing that came out of the changes over the past year and a half?” Also, “What was the best customer experience you had over the course of the past year?” Coach your supervisors on how to start and sustain these team conversations, and how to pull out a message from the contributions that will have a meaningful impact on the participants. Hand out $5 or $10 gift cards to people who contribute with good ideas. If appropriate, attend as many of these meetings as you can in person, to show management-level support. Give a gift card to one of your members who serves as “scribe”, to write down the ideas and make them available to you and all participants. Please send them to me as well - - I love to hear new ideas during CSW!
Lead…and Learn Too
Use Customer Service Week to hone your own leadership skills. Customer service is what your job is all about. Providing leadership to the front line employees is both how you earn your living and how you grow professionally. Remember the servant-leader model. Listen carefully, process what you hear thoughtfully, and empower enthusiastically. You can learn a lot by this process and build your leadership further. The changes foisted on us by COVID can be the opening for you to launch a “new you” during this Customer Service Week.
Remember that true learning is transformative. It doesn’t just inspire you for a day. It is something you work into your schedule, your managerial habits, your M.O. Use your calendar to schedule personal check-ins - - to ask yourself if, and how, you are using your new insights to transform yourself and your center.
Keep the Customer Out Front
Some centers will turn CSW into a celebration of employees. Celebrating your employees is certainly important. However, always recall that the first word in CSW is “Customer”. Find opportunities to bring forth stories and experiences about customers. Find powerful ways to get your colleagues to put themselves in the customer’s shoes….and then knock their sox off with great service!
Share the Love
Professor Richard Feinberg of Purdue University (now retired), a founding father for us at BenchmarkPortal, has an inspirational keynote message: “customer service is all about love.” He is absolutely right. Whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable with the thought, it is true that organizations where a family feeling and corporate caring are communicated all the way to front line agents are the organizations that win. If you love going to work, interacting with your colleagues, solving your customer’s issues while always looking for ways to get better, you will end up with better satisfaction scores - - and you will return higher value to your enterprise for the investment made in your operation.
Just Do It!
Don’t let this Customer Service Week slip by as a “same old, same old” recurrence. Just as some holidays with your family and friends will always stand out in your mind, make this Customer Service Week something special.
Be creative. Add substance. Act now.
You and your colleagues will be glad you did.