Customer Service Week Isn't Just about Customers—It's About Employees, Too

Monday marks the start of National Customer Service Week, an initiative that was started by the International Customer Service Association back in 1984. The weeklong dedication to customer service is an opportunity for brands to treat customers to surprises, perks, and other engagements, but the event is about more than just customer appreciation—it should be about employee appreciation as well.

Happy employees are more likely to provide great service than unhappy employees are. "It's where good customer service starts," says Shep Hyken, customer service author and expert.

Workplace culture is a key component to determining a company's level of customer service. Here are three things companies should do this Customer Service Week to empower employees and exceed their own expectations.

1. Highlight achievements.

Praise goes a long way, and drawing attention to employee successes is an easy way to boost morale and inspire low-performing employees to strive for something. This doesn’t have to entail a cheesy Employee of the Month ceremony—a monetary gift, a badge or crown in a gamification-based corporate social platform, or even a shout-out in the corporate newsletter can be a powerful way to reward top players. "Have employees write thank-you notes to each other, thanking coworkers for the excellent work they've done in certain areas," Hyken recommends. The key is to be specific, to give other employees concrete, attainable goals. At the same time, the goals should be meaningful. For example, don't reward volume of calls answered; rather, reward employees with the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Speed is important, but the emphasis should always be on quality.

2. Provide training.

An employee is only as good as his or her training, which is why it’s an integral component of performance. Most employees get trained when they first start on the job, but it doesn't hurt to review processes and take time to go over new procedures. If new technology was recently introduced to the company, this is the time to make sure everyone has been properly trained and isn't coming across any issues. Good employees will succeed even if they're thrown into the deep end, but their productivity will improve if proper training forms the foundation of their learning experience. Customer service technology is intuitive these days, but that doesn't mean that an agent can just pick it up on day one. Regardless of how user-friendly it is, employers need to train their employees on any new tools, according to Hyken.  

3. Open up the conversation.

Employees are the eyes and ears of the company—they hear and see the customers' biggest customer service gripes, so listening to their perspective is critical. Checking in with employees to see if there are recurring service concerns enables organizations to be more proactive and fix problems before they become PR disasters. Asking employees about any technology that might be missing from their toolbox is important as well—they're in the trenches day to day and will have a better grasp of how customer service platforms and resources are working than management. "Internal problems can be a source of frustration for employees as well. Figure out where the friction is, both on the customer-facing side, and internally," Hyken says.