Build Stronger Teams

Lottery Tickets Connect Remote Team Members

For organizations with far-flung customer service reps it can be difficult to celebrate together. ABE Services solved the problem with this fun activity, which involved weeks of planning and brought everyone together for a big surprise.

ABE Services has staff at several branch locations and onsite at client locations. To involve everyone in the celebration, managers went undercover. During the weeks leading up to Customer Service Week, they “snuck” into each location and taped scratch-off lottery tickets to the bottom of each rep’s keyboard.

Then, on the Tuesday of Customer Service Week an email message was sent to all service staff with the subject line, “Ready, Set …” and the first line of the message was, “Look Under Your Keyboard!”

At 10:00 a.m. when the email was delivered, staff at all locations were turning over their keyboards and sharing a special moment together.

According to client services manager Jennifer Lauth, “It was a big hit.” And to top it all off, the person who won the largest prize in the scratch-off contest also received an additional prize from the company.

Who’s Who Match Up

Games and contests are an important part of every Customer Service Week celebration. When we play together and laugh together, we build strong bonds, which last through the most stressful and difficult moments.

One of the contests that has been a part of just about every Customer Service Week celebration is the “baby picture match” in which team members try to match coworkers to their baby pictures. We’ve seen lots of variations on this theme but the folks at the James Madison University Computing HelpDesk, which provides support to JMU students, faculty, and staff, have come up with a fun new twist.

For several weeks leading up to Customer Service Week each frontline employee’s smile was photographed. The photographs were posted during Customer Service Week and everyone tried to match the smile to its owner. What a great way to draw attention to the importance of smiling when we work with customers over the phone or in person.

In a second contest, team members were asked to match each of their coworkers with one of the superlatives listed below. After the entries were tallied, each team member was presented with a prize and certificate recognizing their superlative.

  1. Most likely to work at the helpdesk forever
  2. Most likely to be president of an IT company
  3. Best Helpdesk smile
  4. Best Helpdesk customer service
  5. Most talkative
  6. Most knowledgeable
  7. Mr. Congeniality
  8. Ms. Congeniality
  9. Most talented
  10. Funniest jokes
  11. Biggest gossip
  12. Most likely to be seen at the helpdesk when they aren’t working
  13. Most spirited
  14. Most creative

Trading Cards Feature Reps

The Customer Service Week agenda from the Philadelphia Water Revenue Bureau is absolutely packed with activities, but two stand out as truly unique.

All week long, team members participated in activities such as treasure hunts, bingo, secret pals, daily quizzes, a pie-toss, and more. Reps were rewarded with “Bureau Bucks” which they used to bid on a wide range of items in the bureau’s silent auction on Friday.

Another highlight of the week was trading and collecting customer service All Star Trading Cards. Each trading card included a photograph of a team member on the front along with their All Star “stats” on the back.

Prior to Customer Service Week, each employee had provided information about themselves along with their personal motto for the card.

During the week, each employee received a pack of five cards. They were encouraged to get together to trade and collect the cards. As manager Phyllis Chase tells us, “Trading proved to be an exciting activity and helped to introduce employees that may not have otherwise known one another.” All Star Cards also played a role in earning Bureau Bucks. At activities throughout the week, an organizer might announce, “If you have a Phyllis Chase All Star Card, you’ve just won 50 Bureau Bucks.”

Finally, Phyllis tells us that the entire budget for this event for 250 people comes from the fund-raising efforts of the bureau. Beginning in January the bureau hosts two events per month. The events both raise funds and keep morale and team spirit high throughout the year.

Some of the many fund-raisers include:

  • 50-50 raffles
  • Two casino trips per year
  • Pretzel and water ice sales in the summer
  • An ice-skating party in the winter
  • A candy sale, and more.

A portion of the funds raised are also donated to a local emergency shelter.

Recognizing with Caught in the Act Cards

The celebration at Orkin was filled with a wide-range of activities but two that really captured the spirit of Customer Service Week focused on recognizing frontline reps for their hard work and commitment to service.

The week began with a continental breakfast and motivational comments by the department vice president. Then everyone returned to their desks hoping to be “Caught in the Act” of delivering excellent service.

This activity is based on what author Ken Blanchard calls the most powerful way to motivate employees: to catch them in the act of doing something right, and then cheer them on.

Throughout the day, many reps were “caught” and duly rewarded with small gifts. Reps names were also posted on the walls of the breakroom as the company’s “Customer Service Stars.”

Wednesday was Team Spirit and Peer Evaluation day. Teams dressed in their chosen colors. And participation was high because only those teams with 100% participation qualified for a team prize.

In addition, reps participated in a recognition program Orkin calls Peer Evaluation and Recognition for Excellence. Manager Janet Carmichael reports that this is one of the most popular activities. Everyone in the company is encouraged to send a note of thanks or commendation to anyone else in the company. To make the process easy, pre-printed Star Cards were created for the event. As Janet says, “It was wonderful to see how faces lit up on receiving a compliment from coworkers.”

Gossip Magazines Feature Reps

The team at Demag Cranes and Components Corp. celebrated with lots of events and activities every day of the week. Two of their activities focused on building strong connections with other departments.

Throughout the week Demag posted slide shows on the company Intranet for everyone to enjoy. These included photos of the service team, information on Customer Service Week activities, and customer praise for frontline reps. One humorous slide show, pictured above, featured reps on the covers of popular gossip magazines.

While other departments were learning more about the service team, the reps were learning more about their coworkers by participating in an amazing race activity.

Loosely based on the popular television show “The Amazing Race,” the contest had teams of reps traveling around the office and interviewing people in other departments. The goal was to learn more about their work in order to solve the day’s challenge.

“And, of course,” says organizer Tricia Ater, “there were lots of laughs and fun shared.”

Creative Team Photos

Off-site workers were included in this on-site Customer Service Week celebration through the clever use of technology.

Dairyland Healthcare Solutions started their celebration early. Goodie bags with the week’s agenda, daily puzzles, a pen, and a small treat were distributed on the Friday before Customer Service Week.

Then throughout the week, reps enjoyed a muffin morning, pie and ice cream social, a training seminar, and the return of the popular cube cram in which as many people as possible cram into one cubicle. This year the team beat their previous record of 21-1/2 with a total of 24 people. Just in case you’re wondering about that half, one of the reps was pregnant last year.

Finally, Dairyland created group photos of each of their customer service teams. Some teams include remote employees. To create the photos, one group photo was taken and then the heads of missing team members were added. Everyone received a copy of their complete team as a memento of the celebration.

Can you spot the off-site workers?

Scavenger Hunt

This easy to execute scavenger hunt at Stryker helped coworkers get to know each other while searching for common and unusual items.

To encourage cooperation with other departments, managers from throughout the company were invited to team with customer service reps in this exciting hunt.

Each team received a list of items that they had to collect. This included things such as a key chain with the company logo and a copy of the company’s annual report along with some more difficult to find items including a hula hoop, an etch a sketch and a toilet tissue roll, which had to be decorated to look like a person.

There was also a bonus item. The company’s former CEO just happens to work in the same building (albeit for another company). The bonus item was a signed copy of one of his new business cards.

A final added twist was the decorating contest. Each team received a sturdy box to hold their treasure. To qualify for an added gift, teams decorated their boxes.

One box recreated a treasure chest and another was decorated as a pirate ship complete with a mast and a toilet-tissue person on watch.

Smile Match Up

It’s true, the warmth of your smile really can be heard across the phone lines. So any Customer Service Week activity that reminds reps to smile is sure to be a success.

At Mile High Foods, Manager Jeanne O’Brien found a great way to focus on those wonderful smiles.

Here’s what the service team did:

Each customer service rep received a disposable camera and spent a week taking pictures of coworkers throughout the company. During Customer Service Week, those smiling faces were displayed in the lunchroom.

Everyone was invited to vote for their favorite photo in categories such as Most Contagious Smile, Most Sincere Smile, Upside-down Smile, and more.

Awards ranged from the appropriate wind-up chattering teeth to gift certificates.

The activity was a great success and Jeanne notes that, “Sometimes we all forget how important that smile is to our inner happiness and in providing internal and external service excellence.”

Online Smile Match Up

A busy Customer Service Week at Mondial Assistance aims to help reps relax, keep fit and smile.

But like many service organizations Mondial faces the challenges presented by a 24/7 center. Andrea Smith tells us that, Mondial always makes a strong effort to involve everyone in as many activities as possible.

For example, Wednesday featured a company-wide lunch. Extra food was delivered and set aside for the overnight team so that they could enjoy a special lunch rather than leftovers. Later in the week, associates showed their team spirit by wearing their favorite team or sports wear to work. Prizes were awarded, but not until the following morning so that the overnight associates could also participate.

Mondial also took the classic Smile Challenge and made it uniquely their own with a high-tech twist.

“We took pictures of 36 associates in our office and posted their smiles on our company Intranet. Everyone really seemed to get into it, and one of our executives even brought in vampire fangs for her picture!” says Andrea.

Associates tried to match each smile to the correct person, which led to lots more smiles during the week and to three employees with perfect scores.

Mondial also hosted a health and wellness fair during the week. As an emergency assistance company Mondial has a team of registered nurses on staff to organize such an event. But the real lesson from this activity is that a health fair was already planned. By working together, the Customer Service Week team was able to combine the two events.

Customer Service Week is the perfect time to partner with your training, human resources and other departments to bring together many activities under the Customer Service Week banner.

People’s Choice Awards

Are you a Speedy Gonzales, Gumby or Martha Stewart? That was the question that reps at Cox Health were pondering during Customer Service Week 2009.

The Physicians Billing team wrapped up it’s week-long celebration with a pot luck lunch and awards ceremony on Friday. Actually, there were two types of awards. First, were the “Oscars,” in which reps received recognition from management in categories such as Dedication to Accuracy and Offering Assistance.

Then there were the People’s Choice Awards in which reps recognized each other. A form listing the various categories for recognition was distributed prior to Customer Service Week. Reps voted for winners in eight categories including the following:

  • Speedy Gonzales: This person is a go-getter, he/she approaches issues with a sense of urgency, produces high-quality results, is persistent, and stays on top of things.
  • Payton Manning: This person is a team player and is always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done right.
  • Gumby: This person represents flexibility. He/she is always willing to help a coworker, has excellent multi-tasking skills, and will assist in any area where there is a need.

To create your own People’s Choice Awards, view all eight of the categories used by Cox Health.