We all know that customer experience (CX) is vital to the success of any business. But many leaders don’t realize that the key to a great CX is an excellent agent experience.
Yes, that’s right, the people on the front lines interacting with customers daily significantly impact the overall CX. And yet, many businesses don’t invest in their agents, leaving them undertrained and overworked. This has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
So, this Customer Service Week, Oct. 3-7, let’s take a moment to celebrate the employees who make a difference for our company, one customer at a time. They are the faces of our companies, and they deserve our gratitude and appreciation.
Why, and How, Upper Leadership Can Celebrate Agents
This year, consider planning activities where you and your leadership team celebrate along with your team.
When I was a call center agent, I would take back-to-back calls. Then, out of the blue, I turned around and saw Briljent’s owner, Kathy Carrier, who showed up at the call center to shake my hand and thank me for my service. She took the time to get to know me. I felt appreciated and more than just a cog in the machine.
That experience impacted my life, so I always encourage Briljent leadership to take time out of their day to spend with our call center agents.
…it’s essential for those in upper
leadership to take the time to listen to their employees…
A few years ago, the company’s President, Matt Odum, and Vice President of Human Resources, Tammy Brodzeller, came to spend some time with our agents. They brought some treats. Most critically they listened to them, and most agents were shocked to know their roles in the company.
After the visit, one of the agents pulled me to the side to tell me that she has never met the President or even a company VP in her entire career of working in call centers. This made her feel valued.
I think it’s essential for those in upper leadership to take the time to listen to their employees, especially those who are on the front lines like our call center agents. It’s a small gesture that can make a significant impact, and I hope you can replicate this experience with your agents this Customer Service Week.
Yes, tying a balloon on an agent’s cubicle is a nice way to show appreciation, but if you can, do take that time with your front-line staff.
Here’s another set of suggestions. Get a few thank-you cards and hand-write something that you’re grateful about your team member. It could be a call they took, their willingness to work overtime when you needed help with an overflow of calls, assisting a new team member, the list goes on.
The little things show you care and taking the time to write a handwritten note will be noticed and appreciated.
Provide certificates to agents who go the extra mile to assist team members, leadership, and customers. When distributing these certificates, make them public as it helps in two ways: it helps to celebrate the agent’s contribution (remember, what gets rewarded gets done again) and it also encourages others to model the way, cultivating a positive culture.
Most of your agents will hang up the personalized certificates and appreciation cards in their cubicles or home offices and reflect on them when they need the extra encouragement after a long-dreaded day or an intense call.
When it comes to building camaraderie, pitch-ins are nice. But in our remote or hybrid world, that may be a bit challenging. So why not identify what food your agents like and what restaurant, do a lottery draw, and then deliver a meal to them? Just make sure to leave out the bill!
Last year we had a lottery drawing for the entire Customer Service Week, and some prizes included gift cards, meals, company swag, and extra break time where the agent could choose the date and time.
We had a good response on the daily lottery, where the agents were excited to see their names drawn in an email, followed by all the congratulatory emails.
Customer service activity sheets lose their engagement in a remote setting but create customer service challenges using gamification, where agents compete against each other to refine their skills and answer quizzes online. Now, that’s worth doing.
With gamification, you can take customer service to the next level by making it more interactive, engaging, and fun. By incorporating elements of competition and learning, agents can stay sharp and motivated while honing their skills.
If call volume permits, break agents into groups and have them compete in a series of fun and challenging games. This is a great way to get everyone interacting and working together towards a common goal.
There are various team-building games you can play, so choose ones that best fit the skills and interests of your team. You can even create games specific to your company or team. Some popular options include trivia games and scavenger hunts.
Whatever games you choose, ensure everyone has a chance to participate and feel like they’re part of the team. Team-building games are a great way to build morale, boost productivity, and create a more cohesive team.
Provide a schedule of what will be done for each day and send this out a week or two before customer service week. Send countdown emails and instant messages in your group chat or communication site.
I know when we do it in our call center, agents look forward to participating, as it creates hype around the event. A few years ago, an agent who was initially off for the day decided to clock in and work because she didn’t want to miss out on the fun.
Using a meeting platform such as Zoom, or MS Teams can help connect agents to senior management. As with today’s work environment, it may not be physically possible to meet everyone within the same geographical location.
I feel it helps senior managers develop an understanding of what employees want and their challenges, as well as what customers want and their pain points, to name a few. It seems like a mini-episode of the reality TV series “Undercover Boss” but without the makeup and cameras.
Recognizing your peers for a well-done job is always a good feeling. These gestures foster a positive work environment, whether a simple “thank you” or a more formal certificate of appreciation.
Consider creating a fillable certificate that agents can download from your communication site or email and send to each other to show appreciation.
Lastly, thank you for reading! I hope these suggestions help create a Customer Service Week celebration that your team will love and remember.