• October 4, 2004
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Customer Service Week Celebrates the Front Line

National Customer Service Week, the five-day observance honoring customer service departments, call centers, and help desks for their efforts to ensure an enjoyable customer service experience, kicks off today.

According to Margaret DeWitt, publisher with the Customer Service Group, the most important reason to participate in this week's celebration is to boost motivation, morale, and teamwork: "We are really seeing managers pull out all the stops to thank their front-line staff."

While some companies observe just within their customer service departments by rewarding representatives with incentive gifts, thank-you notes, parties, etc., others broaden the festivities to encompass a large, company-wide observance throughout the week. "Every celebration has a slightly different purpose to meet the needs of that organization," DeWitt says.

Last year, for example, the Research Institute of America transformed its conference rooms into the Valhalla Flamingo Casino for three days of casino-style gaming during lunch hours and breaks. Each agent started with $5,000 in "Conio Cash," named for Conio Sessa, senior vice president of operations. Staff could play in the casino during their lunch hour or breaks; the dealers were supervisors and other managers. At the end of the three days the agent with the most Conio Cash was awarded $200.

Rooms to Go Furniture has a full week of activities each year, with each weekday sporting a different theme. In 2004 everyone came dressed in pajamas on Monday, as a member of organized crime on Tuesday, as a superhero on Thursday, etc. The day's lunch matched the theme of the day. Friday also included a talent show in which teams participated.

Customer Service Group honors companies that participated in National Customer Service Week and submitted an agenda of their extravaganza by recognizing them on its Web site.

So how does Customer Service Group celebrate? "Our celebration is a double celebration. It is a thank you to everyone on staff for the work they do all year supporting our customers," DeWitt says, "and it's a celebration that the week is over, because it's a very stressful time for our front-line reps."

In what's evolved into a yearly event for the Customer Service Group, one key part of the festivities is a lunch for the front-line reps. "Typically, when they arrive at the restaurant they'll be a small gift for everyone," DeWitt says. "On the way back our reps generally stop in a bakery where they'll pick up a treat to share with the marketing department, [which has] filled in on the phones for them."

The International Customer Service Association launched the celebration in 1988, and in 1992 Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event. Customer Service Group, which has been sponsoring the week since 1991, has the support of ICSA, Help Desk Institute, Society for Service Professionals in Printing, and International Customer Service Professionals.

For companies interested in learning about how they can become a part of National Customer Service Week, visit www.csweek.com

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