Customer Service Week: 8 ideas to celebrate on a budget
Customer Service Week is the first full week in October that celebrates the value of customer service and, most importantly, the teams on the frontlines of the customer journey. Here's how to celebrate it and show agents appreciation year-round.
Published September 23, 2021
Last updated October 17, 2022
Customer service jobs have never been easy, but agents have faced exceptional challenges the past few years. Throughout the pandemic, customer support agents dutifully fielded a sky-high number of queries from customers worried about canceled flights, ambiguous insurance conditions, delayed packages, and other urgent and emotionally loaded issues. As we move forward, customer engagement continues to reach record highs. Our 2022 CX Trends research found that support requests are up 14 percent over 2021 and a third of respondents are anticipating a 25 percent increase in customer engagement over the next two years. This is a lot for support teams that already feel stretched.
In 2021, 70 percent of agents reported feeling overwhelmed, and in 2022 agent satisfaction remains low. Only 15 percent of agents are extremely satisfied with their jobs, and many agents feel under-trained. Customer Service Week reminds businesses that putting customers first shouldn’t mean putting agents last. The point is focusing on agents’ well-being should be an ongoing effort, not just a once-a-year thing. In fact, 55 percent of agents say that a supportive work environment is the most important thing they need to do their jobs well.
Support requests—everything from technical questions to help finding the right sweater size—are up 14 percent compared to last year. And companies expect this trend to continue. In the next two years, just over a third of companies predict that they’ll see a 25-percent increase in customer engagement: no small feat for overworked and overstretched support teams.
Only 15 percent of agents are extremely satisfied with their workloads, while a mere 20 percent report feeling the same way about the quality of training they receive. Taking all factors together, less than 30 percent feel empowered to do their jobs well.
What is National Customer Service Week?
National Customer Service Week is the first full week in October that celebrates the value of customer service and, most importantly, the teams on the frontlines of the customer journey. The International Customer Service Association started the celebration in 1984 to recognize service teams and the impact their work has in driving customer satisfaction and loyalty outcomes such as retention, growth, and advocacy.
Why is Customer Service Week important?
Customer Service Week recognizes the impact of good customer service and the hard work of the teams making those experiences happen every day.
The truth is customer service matters, and it is worth an investment. Studies have identified customer service as a crucial competitive differentiator, even over price, and a key component of customer loyalty. The impacts of customer service go far beyond customer satisfaction. Done well, customer service can boost market share, customer spend, and even customer acquisition.
But happy customers aren’t possible without happy agents. Poor agent experience can lead to poor job performance and a high team turnover rate—and customers can tell when someone is burnt out or unhappy in their role.
Customer Service Week invites business leaders to ask how they can do a better job building processes and policies that ensure teams on the frontlines feel supported.
- Do your support teams have open channels of communication with leadership to share feedback?
- Do you hold spaces for them to connect and share their perspectives?
- Does your business support flexible and remote work?
- Do you invest in ongoing agent training?
- Do your agents feel they have all the software and tools they need to make their jobs easier? Letting chatbots answer common questions that would otherwise bog an agent down goes a long way—nothing kills team efficiency and morale like forcing employees to do work that could be automated.
Supporting customers starts with supporting your own people. The customer is not always right, and supporting your team means showing up for them when they’re being mistreated. Service jobs require a lot of emotional labor, and it can be challenging to keep up with the fast-paced and results-driven work of interacting with customers directly. It’s important to show agents they’re a valued part of the organization by prioritizing their needs and well-being not just one week of the year, but also on an ongoing basis.
How can you celebrate Customer Service Week?
Below are a few budget-friendly ways to celebrate Customer Service Week from experts in the industry.
8 ways to celebrate Customer Service Week on a budget
- Team shout-outs
- Free food
- Random PTO
- Small, personalized gifts
- Handwritten thank you notes
- Strengths-finding assessment events
- Donations to charities of employees’ choices
- Zoom rooms where customers and agents can meet face-to-face
Jeremy Watkin, Director of Customer Experience and Support, NumberBarn
Watkin recommends taking a “start, stop, and continue” approach to Customer Service Week. In other words, use the week to brainstorm how you can do a better job at showing customer support teams how much you appreciate them year-round. Watkin gives his team shout-outs for great things they did in a weekly company-wide meeting, free food, random time off, and little gifts here and there.
Nate Brown, Chief Experience Officer of Officium Labs and Co-Founder of CX Accelerator
Brown has his team take a strengths-finder assessment, such as Gallup’s, and then plans a celebration event where everyone can share their strengths and peers can recognize one another’s unique skills. He also suggests sending employees personalized gifts, writing them a kind note, or giving them money to donate to a charity of their choice.
Annette Franz, CEO of CX Journey Inc. and Author of Putting the “Customer” in Customer Experience
Franz recommends creating a calendar for Customer Service Week and planning ways to celebrate it all week long. She suggests handwritten thank you notes, personalized gifts to show you listen and care, surprising and delighting employees with a day off, or bringing customers into a Zoom room to meet agents face-to-face.
Nicole Saunders, Director of Communities, Zendesk
Saunders celebrates her team by building a culture around peer-to-peer recognition. Her team screenshots positive feedback from customers and shares it in the team Slack channel.