Off Center
 
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.


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Happy Customer Service Week!

Lucian
9/29/2011 10:21:19 pm

Hello Greg,

I think that during CSW the centers should also try to give out free Xanax and Valium to their most stressed agents and suppliment the number of items in the BREAK rooms :)

Reply
9/29/2011 10:26:47 pm

I thought that most call centers already DID those things year-round, Lucian. If not, then we have a lot of work to do as an industry. ; )

Thanks for reading, and Happy (early) CSW to you and your team!

-Greg

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