Today’s Business Products: How to show appreciation for your customer service employees

Customer Service Week, set for Oct. 7 to 11 this year, provides a good opportunity to recognize the efforts of those employees who regularly serve as the face of your company when dealing with the public.

“When my dad and I started this company in 1984, one of the things he said to me was, ‘These are the people who make the company run and profitable. If you don’t take care of these people, you’re not going to have a company,’” says Rick Voigt, president of Today’s Business Products.

“Our customer service staff and delivery drivers have more day-to-day interaction with the customers than salespeople or managers,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Voigt about ways to show customer service employees that they are appreciated.

How can companies show appreciation for their customer service employees?

Some ideas include putting caramel apples on desks with a sign ‘you’re the core of our business’ and mints thanking employees for their ‘commit-mint.’ Little trinkets can help put smiles on their faces, and that translates into happier workers when they’re dealing with customers.

The customer service team is an extension of the sales team, so the salespeople also should take part through some activity that shows their appreciation.

You could have salespeople answer phones when the customer service team is treated to a lunch. That helps show appreciation because the sales staff gains a better understanding of what customer service employees do by actually doing the job during that time.

What are some ways customer service personnel go above and beyond to provide a superior experience for clients?

You never want to say ‘no’ to clients. We have actually gone out and picked up a product not available through regular distribution channels in order to accommodate a customer.

One time, a customer placing an order mentioned being in trouble because there was no coffee in the office. An employee pulled it off the shelf and delivered it within 15 minutes. That customer was thrilled that someone went out of his or her way to bring him or her the coffee.

Personality is the most important quality to have in customer service. A male receptionist could seem strange at first to some customers, but may be the most qualified person, with a very pleasant, outgoing personality. If he’s doing his job, your customers will appreciate how they are greeted, regardless of who it is.

How important is it to have customers be able to call a live person rather than reach a directory?

Callers do not like getting a phone tree. A human being should answer the phone during business hours. Even if it’s outside normal business hours, if someone is in the office, they need to answer the phone. They may not be able to assist the caller directly, but they should at least transfer the call to the correct person’s voice mail, which in turn takes one more thing off of the caller’s plate.

People need to be confident that when they hang up the phone that their order, question or concern will be handled properly. That means providing proper training and giving employees authority to make decisions that are in the best interests of the customer and the company. If they are unsure about something, they can talk to a manager or supervisor and get right back to the customer.

Customers who call should not get the experience that you get with many 800 numbers — you don’t know if you’ll be on the phone for 30 minutes or longer. People want human interaction, so that’s what they should be given when they call.

When you give employees the proper tools to do their job and show appreciation for them, they’ll be happier and you’ll have satisfied customers.

Rick Voigt is the president of Today’s Business Products. Reach him at (216) 267-5000 or [email protected].

Save the date: Oct. 7 to 11 is Customer Service Week. Show your customer service employees how you appreciate them.

Insights Customer Service is brought to you by Today’s Business Products