This week (October 3rd through 9th) is Customer Service Week in the United States. This is a great opportunity for servant leaders to support these teams and their stake holders in many ways. Leaders can take this opportunity to thank their customer service professionals, educate the organization on the importance of customer service or thank their customers directly. Here are some thoughts for how you can show customer service gratitude:
Thanking Customer Service Professionals
Customer service professionals, even those working with the highest quality product lines, deal with a great number of frustrated customers. When speaking with a service representative once, I remarked that it must be a difficult job. They responded:
“You bet it is! Imagine if 50% or more of your day was listening to complaints or solving problems. It wears you down. After a while, you begin to think all your products are junk – even though these calls represent only a fraction of a percentage of your customers.”
She went on to say how it helped though, that her manager was excellent at showing gratitude and providing recognition. Her boss, she said, frequently recognized team members in public, showed empathy for her challenges and created a fun working environment. These are great suggestions for any leader working with customer service representatives.
1. Recognize: Recognize your service professionals in public, send out broad messages, mention them in meetings and find other ways to publicly praise the team.
2. Empathize: If you understand the challenges your customer experience professionals greet each day, let them know it. If you do not, learn them. Sit in on their calls, read the messages they deal with and empower them to be as successful as possible.
3. Enliven: It’s been described as taking work seriously but yourself lightly. Leaders who can laugh at themselves and establish a relaxed environment make it easier for the team to maintain a positive attitude.
Educate the Organization
Customer communications used to be consolidated to a single department. Now, the customer service team is still likely the best equipped to handle customer issues. With the evolution of social media though, every employee is a customer representative. Training once reserved for one department now has relevance to everyone, but of course, not everyone can spend that much time on this training. Here are some creative tips for educating the broader organization on the importance of customer service, without taking a lot of time:
1. Table Tops: If your organization has a cafeteria, put small stands on them with tips and guidelines for communications with customers or in public settings.
2. Hallway Posters: High traffic areas are great locations for reminders and quick messages to the team. Some creative images will help as well. Just make sure you only hit the highlights as people rarely stop to read in the hall.
3. Storytelling: Stories are a great way to share examples and spread ideas. Hold a competition and ask employees to share their examples of success in serving your customers.
Thanking Customers Directly
Of course, it all begins with the customers. Chances are, you already have plenty of great tools by which you can reach the consumer. For example:
1. Outbound Message: Let your customers know you appreciate them when they call. Chances are you already have the standard outbound message thanking them for their patience. Why not add something special during Customer Service week?
2. Competition: You could randomly select customers for special recognition or have them submit images with your products to win a prize. Whatever the case, increase the opportunities for your service representatives to proactively engage customers.
3. Storytelling Part 2: Loop in your customers with the storytelling across the broader organization. Encourage the customer to share their stories through surveys, competitions or social media platforms, then expose those stories to your employees.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for Customer Service Week to display your gratitude and support for the front line of your organization. So whether it is customer service week or not and whether you are focused on the customer service team, your employees in general or your customers, ensure the group is focused on great customer service. The more creative and frequent your gratitude, the better.
Question: How do you show you customer service support?