Happy Customer Service Week

Hallmark doesn't have a card to cover this event--yet. It's National Customer Service Week.

Started by the International Customer Service Association in 1988, National Customer Service Week was proclaimed a national event by the U.S. Congress in 1982.

The purpose of National Customer Service Week is "to create a positive message that lasts all year long, and to provide a productive opportunity to generate an even stronger commitment to customer service excellence," according to the ICSA.

The event is a chance for businesses to focus on customer service improvement for both customers and customer service agents. Analysts estimate there are more than 65,000 contact centers in America, and nearly 7 million customer service representatives.

A recent study by the Radclyffe Group found that happy agents mean happy customers, which in turn means better business.

To achieve that businesses participating in Customer Service Week can work on new strategies, formulate stress-relief plans, and reward and recognize agents.

Dartnell Corp. sells kits that include planning tips for the celebration, along with banners and certificates of recognition to promote a festive atmosphere in the call center this week.

In celebration of National Customer Service Week, SupportSoft Inc., a provider of support automation software, is honoring some of its customers. Charter Communications, Health Care Services Corporation, and ADP Dealer Services all are being honored as businesses that have implemented customer service best practices and are achieving measurable customer benefits through support automation.

Another survey, by Aspect Communications, found that 82 percent of customers are likely to recommend a company to their friends and family when they are happy with its customer service.

The best way to make customers happy, according to the Radclyffe Group study, is to more quickly resolve issues and problems.

And in many cases that means letting the customers resolve issues through self-service. According to Forrester Research Inc., Web self-service solutions alone can reduce the cost of solving a user's problem by 96 percent, dropping the cost to an estimated average of $1.17 per customer response, from an average of $32.74 per response, for an assisted service telephone call.

But self-service is better in some situations. Radclyffe says 61 percent of people prefer to track shipments on their own and 81 percent of people prefer to check account balances without the aide of an agent. On the flip side, just 13 percent of customers prefer self-service for clothing purchases, and just 12 percent want to buy plane tickets without a customer service representative.

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