Essential 24/7: Reflecting on National Customer Service Week 2022

This week (October 3-7, 2022), and every first full week of October, is National Customer Service Week (NCSW) in the U.S.

First proclaimed a national event by the U.S. Congress in 1992, NCSW is meant to recognize and give appreciation to customer service professionals.

I first developed a deep appreciation for customer service professionals when I graduated from college. My first project as a management consultant was to assist with process documentation at the then newly established NYC 311 contact center. For the next 4 years, I spent countless hours in contact centers across the world, y-jacking with agents and documenting ways that they could be more efficient with their time while also providing world-class service.

Customer service workers keep businesses running.

It’s fitting that this year’s NCSW theme is “BEE-cause You’re Essential”. The concept of an “essential worker” became common language during COVID lockdowns. These were the professionals who often risked their health to keep our society and systems working while many of us stayed home to stop the spread of the deadly virus. They were critical to making sure lives were saved and sustained.

Customer service workers are also essential because they provide support and service to keep industries going. During COVID, many customer service pros were able to work remotely and answer our calls, and respond to emails and other messages. Back during the lockdown and stay-at-home orders, they were often the only face and voice of the brands we all love to do business with. Since we couldn’t go to stores in person, we were bound to shop online—and shop online we did. Overall, e-commerce sales grew over 50% during 2020, with many categories like home furnishings and goods leading the surge.

Customer service teams were slammed, having to handle an unprecedented amount of contacts across existing and new channels. And now as we’re nearing talks of a national or even global recession, these teams are still tasked with doing more with fewer people and resources.

This National Customer Service Week, we should all refocus on the employee experience.

Cost savings has always been a primary focus area for these teams but I’m excited to see a new theme emerge from the customer service leaders I follow and admire; a focus on the employee experience.

The employee experience is crucial to driving great Customer Experience. Being a customer service professional is a tough job. They sometimes don’t get the resources they need to answer tough questions from customers while also having to spend most of their days dealing with customers who are upset.

For leaders, let’s focus more on how these professionals are experiencing work and help them get the training, support, and resources they need to be successful in their challenging roles.

Also, showing recognition and appreciation of their work is important in keeping morale and retention high.

For the rest of us, here are two things that we can all do to thank Customer Service pros:

Show appreciation to a customer service professional this week.
Show some empathy and compassion in your interactions with them, every day.

Let’s all remember that there are real people on the other side of the phone, email,or messaging thread. Each day we engage with them, let’s remember to treat them with the respect they deserve. Happy National Customer Service Week!

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