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Pizza Party Impossible: Celebrating Customer Service Week | #ICMIchat Rundown (September 29, 2020)

Pineapples in party hats.

Customer Service Week is around the corner, and teams need a celebration more than ever before. A cynic might suggest this holiday was cooked up by marketing departments to sell greeting cards and trophies, but it's an excellent time to reflect on the value of your contact center. This week affords teams a reprieve from the mundane, well-deserved recognition, and the chance to renew our commitments to excellent customer service. It's also an opportunity for contact center leaders to build bridges across the organization, showcasing the value contact centers bring.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific to weigh in on the contact center industry's most pressing challenges. Check out next week's discussion and join the conversation on Twitter!

We asked the #ICMIchat community how they like to celebrate customer service with their teams. They packed this rundown with practical tips for every budget and actionable steps leaders can take to recognize their agent's hard work. With so many ways to participate, there's no reason to let this celebration pass you by!

Why Celebrate?

Customer Service Week is an annual reminder of how vital excellent customer service is to an organization's success. Because those working in contact centers see it first hand every day, we often take this basic concept for granted. It's easy for employees in other parts of our organization to forget how contact centers enable their success. This week is an opportune time to renew the dialogue, reward our hard-working agents, and consider our future aspirations. Just don't forget to have small celebrations for the rest of the year, too.

If you want to win the hearts of your customers, you must first win the hearts of your employees. Customer Service Week is a good way to start, but you need to keep the momentum going all year long.

Contact centers should celebrate customer service work & people OUTSIDE of Oct 5-9. Many identity groups resent the weeks or months set aside to celebrate them & their work or accomplishments. If a contact center does celebrate in October, what are they also doing all year round?

Absolutely! This has been a tough year for everyone, especially frontline employees. It’s the best week to appreciate the importance of contact center and energise them to continue their great work!

Yes, contact centers should celebrate this occasion. We have appreciation days for a wide range of professions. The front line employees who provide assistance to customers deserve to be celebrated too.

Party Without a Place

This year will be the first time many teams celebrate Customer Service Week apart. The old practice of dopping a few pizzas in the break room is no longer feasible, and leaders will have to discover new ways to bring cheer to their remote workers. These fresh challenges bring opportunities to innovate how we connect and build relationships. From online games to handwritten notes, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

I would love to see some "Award show" themes this year. Virtual happy hours can replace the "pizza party" with games giving away WFH tools (desks, chairs, headphones) would be really cool!

Mail surprises to the folks on the team. Have people in other depts write emails. Of course, there will be lots of themed Zoom calls. But also give the team extra self-care time away from the computer.

Sending the party (food and drink) to agents' homes. And Zoom activities. Almost seamless.

I just recently attended a webinar that had food delivered to the attendee's doorstep so they could eat while watching. It was a great way to make the virtual event still feel pretty intimate. Everyone loves free food, right?

Dare to Dream

We asked the #ICMIchat community to imagine their ideal Customer Service Week celebration. Thoughts of beaches and travel were no surprise, but they also offered some creative and practical suggestions to liven up the week. Our unusual limitations also permit unique opportunities for personalization. Don't be afraid to experiment with employee-driven ideas.

If money and covid were not issues, I'd rent a private tropical island and have an incredibly relaxing retreat together for a week!

I’d love to find the budget and arrange an evening of live performances across comedy, poetry, and music. Employees can join in with their family and have a truly good time!

It would be an event where we could invite the families to enjoy the experience. For any job, the priority should be FAMILY FIRST. Your personal family and your work family. Why not bring both families together to share the experience.

Aside from the times and circumstances of the year, would love to fly our whole customer service team out to an island for us to work remotely, but celebrate together in a paradise!

Preparing in a Hurry

There's a first time for everything, and if you haven't celebrated Customer Service Week in the past, this year is an excellent time to start. Your activities don't have to be elaborate or expensive; the thought counts for a lot of its own. If this holiday took you by surprise, begin with a handwritten note, virtual happy hour, or employee feedback townhall. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate your commitment to employees without much investment.

I liked the idea of having lunch delivered "at the same time" to everyone and having a virtual luncheon or HH. Even getting leaders on a town hall with reps to recognize frontline accomplishments and have a Q&A with senior leaders goes a long way!

Low budget and from the heart. Take time to write a note to each member of your team to thank them for their contribution.

I’m not the best person for this, so I just asked my wife. She was quick to suggest “Do some fun games to see how well people know each other. That never goes wrong!”

Celebrating on a Shoestring Budget

Money is tight for a lot of organizations right now. Your employees will understand that resources are scarce, but this doesn't mean we have to cancel Customer Service Week. Above all, your celebration must be meaningful to be effective. Soliciting ideas from creative employees will help you hit the mark without breaking the bank. Even appreciative group discussions and recognition of everyone's contributions can be great fun.

Find the creative person/people on the team and task them with creating the event that they want and you'll have a hit.

First, don't try and be something that you are not. It will fall flat and not have the desired result. Second, ask your teams to be a part of the planning. Allow the budget to drive prizes, swag; allow those being celebrated to drive the celebrations...

Let the team plan it together with what they want to do within the small budget. That way, they will actually enjoy it.

Party Fouls

Yes, there is a wrong way to throw a party. If your Customer Service Week celebration isn't thoughtful or meaningful to those you intend to inspire, the event will fall flat. Use this opportunity to solicit employee feedback and generate ideas for improving how you work. Feeling heard and understood is immensely satisfying. Ensure your messaging matches your actions and capabilities; nothing is worse than sitting through lip service if you're not empowered to act on it.

There are uncountable wrong ways, really... But: griping about customers would certainly be on that list.

Similar to when I buy my wife flowers from Costco and she rolls her eyes. If it's not genuine and from the heart, don't expect to gain many employee engagement points from the effort. You get what you put into it.

I think the heart of the celebration is the employees. So going through the motions without any regard for the actual employees should be avoided. Instead be intentional to listen to employees, empower them to be involved, be genuine, etc.

Invited Guests

Chances are your executives don't spend much time in the contact center. It seems like the more smoothly we operate, the more they're liable to forget us. Customer Service Week is a great time to invite leaders from other parts of the organization to show appreciation and be reminded of the valuable function we fill. A little attention goes a long way to feeling respected by the rest of the organization.

The objective is exec leadership know & understand what happens in customer care, but not that they do customer care. Know = familiarity with processes and tools and lack thereof, to make better managerial decisions.

It's important recognition, rewards, and celebration are part of the culture throughout the org. Executive leadership needs to lean into this as a positive differentiator for their culture. Time lost not recognizing/celebrating others can not be regained.

I think CSWeek is a great occasion to get executive leaders to spend time at the contact center floor. When executed well, both parties walk away with insights about each other and feel more connected to the company’s mission.

Don't Stop The Party

While weeklong celebrations are fantastic, it's crucial to keep the conversation going and motivation high all year long. Customer Service Week is the celebration of the future, not the end of the line. Once you determine fun activities and rewards that your employees value, repeat them periodically throughout the year. All of the tips shared from today's chat can serve just as well as reinforcement.

Create a customer-focused mission and then make every activity (quality, metrics, performance 1:1, incentives, etc) reinforce that mission. That's the only way you get the consistency required.

@Jeremy, I'd humbly add that this includes building and nurturing relationships with the peer teams in your company that you and your customers depend on - Product/Engineering, Marketing, Executive, Finance, Sales, etc.

The other 51 weeks are what matter the most. Culture and mission/vision must include the notion of it. CX is not a poster or a monthly pizza party, its a way to operate.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific to weigh in on the contact center industry's most pressing challenges. Check out next week's discussion and join the conversation on Twitter!

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