What is Customer Service Week?

CUSTOMER Service Week acknowledges efforts of good employees and celebrates consumers.

Report Elizabeth Ndhlovu-Dumbreni 

It honours and applauds employees who service clients. Employers use this week to reward employees and boost morale.

Training sessions given during the week focus on customer service and teamwork. Some organisations use the celebration to remind consumers of their commitment to providing a positive customer experience.

History
In 1988, the International Customer Service Association came up with Customer Service Week. In 1991, the Customer Service Group became the nationally recognised sponsor in the United States, providing employers with celebration materials and how-to information.

The Customer Service Group also serves as a resource for professionals who want to share plans and ideas for the event. In 1992, the US Congress declared Customer Service Week a nationally recognised annual event taking place in the first week of October. Then President George Bush signed the Customer Service Proclamation of October 8 1992, according to the Joint Resolution for Customer Service Week.

Significance
The significance of Customer Service Week is the intent to raise awareness of the vital role front line employees play in organisations, according to customer serviceworks.com.

When a company celebrates Customer Service Week it reinforces the significance the business puts on providing a quality experience for the consumer. And with many products and services available online, the importance of making the customer feel good has risen to new heights and can make or break a business of any size, according to Peter Hartz, author of The Customer That Breathes.

Traditions
Red and blue symbolise the recognised colours of customer service in the US, according to csweek.com. A puzzle piece serves as the official logo. Participating organisations each have a favourite and unique way of celebrating. A lot of businesses enjoy hosting workshops and invite special speakers for seminars.

Hosting a different theme-party for each day of the week has been a favourite tradition for many employees and employers. Other popular traditions include raffles and games.

Sponsorship
Large and small companies in all industries participate in the annual celebration of customer service. Since the consumers’ needs are deemed vital to the company’s core values, many organisations use the event to reward front-line employees. Companies that participate in this celebration also use this week to thank other departments for their support and remind customers of their commitment to client satisfaction.

Celebration tips

Create a positive atmosphere. Several companies hang banners and inflate balloons, even handing out balloons to children of clients. Also, hosting theme-parties and fun for everyone shows that the business put thought into the celebration. Theme days work just as well. Let your clients see the great customer service provided to them over the past year by posting stories and testimonials. Educate employees on ways to reduce stress and reward them for their hard work.

Excellent customer service
In a competitive marketplace, shoppers will patronise businesses that not only deliver on value but also treat them well. Customer service goes beyond the fulfillment of a promise to provide quality service on time; businesses must placate even those patrons who have unjust complaints. In order to build trust and retain clients’ long term, excellent customer service must be at the forefront of a company’s operations.

Instructions
Make the goal of providing excellent customer service a company-wide commitment. Put a customer-service policy in writing, and post it in a prominent place. Translate customer-service objectives into specific actions for employees to follow, such as: deliver prompt service, offer a polite demeanour, and make product information readily available.

Create customer service benchmarks for employees to meet, and reward the workers who meet and exceed them.

Communicate with customers so you know what they want. Distribute surveys, request feedback, and make it easy for customers to let you know how they feel about their shopping experience. Add a personal touch to customer communication by answering comment letters with a note of thanks. Keep an eye on the competition to see how they implement customer-service policies, especially if it appears that those services are well-received by customers.

Explain to front-line staff the importance of being empathetic and listening to customers’ needs. Teach the staff stress-reduction methods and techniques in conflict resolution. Empower staff members to not only deal well with upset customers on an emotional level but also provide tangible benefits. For example, Entrepreneur magazine recommends giving employees the authority to give any dissatisfied customer a 10% discount.

Train staff to use language that promotes good customer service. Phrases such as “How can I help?” “I don’t know, but I will find out,” and “I will keep you updated” let customers know that their needs will be met. It will also demonstrate a willingness to find a solution to any problem and a commitment to communicate with the customer. This dedication will go a long way toward defusing dissatisfaction among clientele.

Keep your word
Trustworthiness is key for excellent customer service. This includes delivering the exact product you’ve promised precisely when you promised it would arrive. If you’re in the service industry, finish the job on time, and tie up all loose ends. Follow up after the job is complete to ensure ongoing satisfaction with your work and to retain satisfied clients.

Train staff to accept responsibility for errors and to apologise to upset customers. Good customer-service representatives must refrain from arguing with an upset customer and instead ask the customer what they can do to solve the problem.

Advise employees to speak calmly to customers and to assure them that they’ll do what they can to help. Follow up with a clear resolution to the complaint.Treat your employees well, so they in turn will treat customers well. Employees will bring enthusiasm and a positive attitude to their job when they know they’re appreciated and respected. Recognise employees who continually provide good customer service and praise the entire staff for their efforts.

Customer-service work can be emotionally draining unless the company involved is supportive and gains the loyalty of its employees. Ehow.com.

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