Highlight Training

Reps Become Secret Shoppers

The highlight of the weeklong celebration at Cambrex Corporation was a special activity, which turned frontline reps into customers and gave them an opportunity to benchmark their service against other organizations.

Supervisor Tom Shifflett describes the benchmarking program as an eye-opening experience for the customer service team. Here’s how it worked:

Reps were divided into teams of two and given a list of items to purchase. Then, the entire department went to a local mall. But this was no ordinary shopping trip, as reps had to follow these rules:

  • Only one item may be purchased per store.
  • Each person on the team must purchase each item.
  • A salesperson must be consulted at each store.
  • A customer service evaluation form must be completed for each store.

Later, the entire team met to review their completed evaluation forms, to discuss areas where improvement could be made, and to determine lessons learned that they could transfer to their own operations.

While the Cambrex team chose to shop in the local mall, this eye-opening event could just as easily be adapted to telephone or online shopping.

And just in case you’re wondering what happened with all those items that were purchased — they were given to the reps as thank-you gifts!

Show Training Videos in Style

At the Virginia Department of Transportation, training is both educational and fun during Customer Service Week.

Each year, the Customer Service Week committee hosts a Video Day in which decorations, costumes, and snacks all reflect the theme of the training video.

One popular video was “The Royal Treatment,” which focuses on treating customers like royalty.

Guests entered the auditorium where the video was shown by crossing a wooden drawbridge. Once inside, they found that half the room was decorated like a dungeon and half like a castle. Members of the Customer Service Week committee were dressed appropriately as characters from the movie, including a king, executioner, and jester.

As guests left the auditorium, they received magnetic cards that had been imprinted with the committee’s formula for giving every customer the royal treatment.

  • R — Recognize and acknowledge
  • O — Offer assistance
  • Y — Yes, I can attitude
  • A — Agree on a solution
  • L — Leave them in awe

Reinforce Service Goals With a Little Mystery

At John Hopkins Healthcare, a relatively simple and low-cost Customer Service Week activity helped focus attention on service goals and brought the team closer together.

The only materials needed are 5″ x 7″ cards with each rep’s name and a border of stars, plus a hole-punch.

Here’s how it worked:

Without any prior explanation, supervisors and managers began punching holes in the stars and initialing rep’s cards.

Customer service manager, Nancy DiLeo, tells us that this drove reps crazy with questions, “Is a hole punch a good thing? How many holes can I get? Why are you doing this?”

As the week progressed, supervisors and managers began dropping hints as they punched and signed their way through the department. Compliments such as “Hey that was a great ending to a call” or “Thanks for helping the new rep with that tough problem” could be heard throughout the department.

By Wednesday, supervisors and managers were asking groups of two or three reps questions on departmental policies. Every correct answer earned the rep a hole-punch.

The mystery was finally solved on Friday when all of the cards were turned in and reps received tickets for prize drawings for each hole-punch they had received.

Nancy summarizes the benefits of the activity this way, “We might have started out on a mission to punch holes and have some fun; what we really got was a deeper connection with our team. It’s carried over into the weeks since our celebration; supervisors stop and listen and talk with reps a lot more now.”

Two-Way Communication

When NorthStar Capital Markets Services held its first Customer Service Week celebration, the week was packed with creative activities that focused on team building, training, and just plain fun.

Two of those activities combined fun with a purpose. The first focused attention on the importance of two-way communication, and the second on vocal tone and quality.

In the first activity, reps were divided into teams of two to complete a series of challenges, which required both trust and excellent communication skills.

In each team, one person was designated the leader and the other was blindfolded. The teams then completed a series of tasks using words only. Here’s what they did:

  1. The blindfolded person was instructed to draw specific shapes on a flip chart. To get it just right, the leader had to give very clear and precise instructions.
  2. The next challenge was based on the party game, Mad Gab. The leaders were instructed to read the following phrases to their partners and to vary their pace and inflection until their partner understood each one. The phrases were:
    • Heaven Iced Hey — Have a nice day
    • Awe Wean Heed Issue — All we need is you
    • Hike Wallet He — High quality
  3. For a more tactile task, the leader guided her blindfolded partner to place a stone in the correct position among other stones on a tray.
  4. And for the more athletic, the leader guided her partner in an attempt to toss a foam football into a bin.
  5. To wrap up the event, the blindfolded rep pushed her partner, in an office chair, through an obstacle course. At the finish line, they celebrated completing the tasks together.

The second featured activity focused reps attention on the importance of vocal tone and quality.

In this “experiment,” reps were asked to call their desks and leave themselves a simple message. Next, reps were asked to leave themselves the same message but this time to stand up, smile and face the person next to them when speaking.

When comparing the two messages reps noticed the difference, says operations trainer, Brenda Knutson, “The participants were shocked at how lethargic and uninteresting they sounded on voicemail. But once they stood up, added the smile and acted as if they were talking to the person next to them, everything changed.”

Daily Skill Goals

Fun, games, teambuilding, rewards, recognition. But is there a place for training during Customer Service Week?

You bet there is. In fact the week provides a great opportunity for your team to recommit themselves to the service mission and to sharpen their service skills.

That’s just what the team at the Orange County Clerk of the Courts in Orlando, FL, did. Each day the team focused on a particular skill and the managers who monitored calls were there to coach, recognize, and reward team members for their focus on the daily skill.

Here’s a rundown of the skills they covered during the week:

  • Greeting: Focus on greeting the customer with a smile in your voice.
  • Listening: Focus on what the customer is really saying.
  • Closing: Focus on all of the elements in a proper closing.
  • Empathy and Courtesy: Show the customer you care by being upbeat, friendly and patient.

And while the team focused on improving their skills there was also plenty of time devoted to a kick-off pancake breakfast, chair massages, service crossword puzzles, service bingo, office Olympics, and other fun activities.

Positive Attitudes and Positive Word Choices

At the Beaulieu Group, Mardi Gras isn’t a single Tuesday — it’s everyday during Customer Service Week. And traditional Mardi Gras beads play an important part in the decorations, prizes, and a special week-long game called “Say it & Pay it.”

The game was created to focus attention on positive attitudes and positive word choices all while having fun.

Each team member started the week with a good supply of colorful Mardi Gras beads. At the end of the week the team members with the most beads received prizes.

But there was a catch: Any rep caught saying “can’t” or “won’t” during the week had to give a strand of beads to the person who caught the lapse.

And what’s Mardi Gras without a parade? The team also enjoyed a chair decorating contest and then paraded their creations — lead by the Mardi Gras King and Queen — around the building.

A New Kind of Theme Day

Theme days have always been popular during Customer Service Week — from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, to superheroes, to team jersey days.

But at Demag — A Terex Brand, theme days took a more serious tone. The company has six core values, each of which is represented by a different color: Integrity, Respect, Improvement, Servant Leadership, Courage, and Citizenship.

Each day of the week, employees celebrated a different core value. They did this by dressing in the appropriate color and reflecting on the actions taken by their peers, which exemplified the daily value.

Customer Service Manager, Tricia Ater, explains that this was not a contest, it was simply a way to focus on these important values and to illustrate that small actions can bring the team closer to achieving each value.

Training for Everyone

After a 10 year hiatus, Barton Community College was ready to begin celebrating Customer Service Week again. This time the festivities involved college staff from all of the departments on campus.

To ensure that everyone could participate, the event featured several activities that were repeated throughout the week. For example, the popular FISH! video was shown on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in both morning and afternoon sessions.

And stress reduction training was presented on Monday and Thursday in both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Not only were participants informed and motivated, they were also entered into a prize drawing each time they attended an activity.

The week came to a close on Friday with a one-time only ice cream social complete with photo booth. Plenty of hats, sun glasses, and boas were available to create a special memento of the week.