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Customer Service Week is once again upon us (starting Monday, Oct. 7), and contact centers everywhere – at least those that actually care about customer service and their agents – are getting ready to celebrate.

The key to an effective CSW celebration is to party just hard enough to show agents how appreciated and valued their work is, but not so hard that it interferes with the very service you are celebrating. Rewarding staff with tequila shots can greatly diminish service levels and cause agents to pass out during customer interactions before first-contact resolution is achieved.

Following are 20 fresh ideas that are almost but not quite guaranteed to make your Customer Service Week celebration a success:
 
1. Officially change the name of the contact center to “The Customer Love Hut”.

2. Give each agent a special comb that fixes ‘headset hair’.

3. Get rid of all the shackles, cattle prods and any other devices used to enforce agent adherence.

4. Replace “Dress-Down Friday” with “Undress Monday”.

5. Pay some actors to play your company’s executive team and have them visit the contact center to thank staff for their great work.  

6. Install a Xanax dispenser in the breakroom. And in the restrooms. And at agents’ workstations.

7. Offer agents free treatment for Xanax addiction. 

8. Walk up to each workstation and personally tell every agent how extremely important they are to the organization. If you have too many agents to do that, just tell your top performer.

9. Let agents work in their underwear or pajamas for the week to make up for senior management rejecting your proposal to implement a home agent initiative.

10. Remove the ‘Calls in Queue’ display board from all the bathroom stalls.

11. Give each agent one “Get Out of Call Free” card for use during an interaction with a highly annoying/abusive customer.

12. Permit agents to take one free swing at their supervisor during a coaching session.

13. Give out an “I’m Dedicated to Service” badge to any agent who has stuck with the job for more than 48 hours.

14. Install thick padding on all workstation desks, walls and computer monitors to protect agents against head injuries.

15. Wait till the week after CSW to tell everybody the center is being outsourced.

16. Give each agent a fresh new supply of the paper clips they use to cut themselves on paydays.

17. Instead of hanging pictures of your top-performers on the wall, hang your actual top performers on the wall to give them a well-deserved break from the phones. 

18. Give each agent three baseballs to throw at a senior manager perched in a dunk-tank. Better yet, forget the dunk-tank.

19. Present each agent with a commission check for all the revenue they’ve saved the company by not telling customers how they really feel.

20. Officially change agents’ title to “Customer Engagement Officer”. Tell your company’s actual CEO to deal with it.

I’d love to hear YOUR fresh ideas for celebrating Customer Service Week. Feel free to share them in the 'Comments' area below.
 
Special ‘Customer Service Week’ Offer from Off Center
In the name of all that is customer servicey, from now through Customer Service Week I’m offering a whopping 50% off the regular price of my Full Contact book on contact center best practices, as well as all of my ‘Contact Center Tunes’ song parodies. To receive your discount, be sure to type in the following code in the ‘Discount Code’ box provided when you are making your purchase: csw13

This offer will end at midnight ET on Sunday, October 13, so act soon! (Now would be good.)


 
There are few better times for call center professionals to over-indulge and act happily insane than during Customer Service Week (October 3-7). It’s our own special week of the year to shine and celebrate, and to punch people in Marketing without getting in much trouble. I personally spend the entire week hooked up to an IV that pumps Red Bull into my system 24 x 7 while I run around shouting “Customer service ROCKS” from the rooftops – unless I’m lucky enough to land a speaking gig that week, in which case I do the same thing from behind a podium.

The past few years, however, the struggling economy has put a serious damper on many companies’ Customer Service Week celebrations. Some forsake the week entirely, claiming they just don’t have the budget to throw CSW parties or provide staff with any special rewards or recognition.

That is such a crock. There are plenty of ways to embrace CSW and show your frontline employees just how valued and appreciated they are when they aren’t screwing up. Following are just a handful of ways to do CSW right – without having to bust open the piggy bank or search through agents’ pockets for loose change.

Remove agents’ ankle monitors. While having agents wear ankle monitors to ensure they never leave their workstation for any reason makes sense most of the time, it can be a little demoralizing during CSW. So why not free your agents of their electronic shackles as a gesture of appreciation? Doing so will let them know you value and trust them – at least for five days in October each year. And it won’t cost the call center a dime, unless of course your agents take advantage of their newfound freedom and abandon their shift during peak periods to catch a matinee at the mall.

Use candy to reward the non-abuse of customers. I once worked as an agent, so I know how challenging it can be to get through an entire call without swearing at or hanging up on the customer. Since CSW is the perfect time to reward and recognize notable achievements and to be nice to customers, consider giving candy to agents who somehow find the strength to not abuse callers for a day or two during the week. Such an incentive is a win-win: Customers won’t have to endure as much agent vitriol as usual; and agents – if successful in their attempts to not openly disgrace callers – will get to enjoy shorter shifts due to their sugar-induced coma.

Wield a softer whip during coaching. Another effective and affordable way to demonstrate your respect and admiration for agents during CSW is to strike them with less force when delivering post-call feedback. Since it can be difficult to train coaches and supervisors to snap their whips more softly than they’re accustomed to, it’s a good idea to replace the center’s normal chain whips with more agent-friendly leather ones.

While CSW is a time for joyous celebration, it’s important for agents to realize that the use of a softer whip is not a permanent change, but rather a special treat reserved for a special week. Make sure they understand that full-force floggings during coaching sessions will resume the second the clock strikes midnight on October 7, which is also when they’re ankle monitors should be re-attached.


SPECIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE WEEK OFFER:  Speaking of special treats, from now until the end of Customer Service Week (Friday, Oct. 7), I'm offering 30% off on all OFF CENTER goodies, including: the Full Contact ebook (http://goo.gl/8aVnk); the State of Home Agent Staffing special report (http://goo.gl/pAfQI); and all Contact Center Tunes (http://goo.gl/DwvcU). To take advantage of this limited-time offer, be sure to enter the following discount code when purchasing any of the items mentioned: csw2011

Happy Customer Service Week!