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A Week of Recognition

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Posted September 26, 2001 By Robyn Greenspan     Feedback

Customer service representatives, who are often on the receiving end of consumer dissatisfaction, now get the respect they deserve. The first week of October signifies National Customer Service Week -- a time devoted to recognizing the importance of customer service professionals.

Customer service representatives, who are often on the receiving end of consumer dissatisfaction, now get the respect they deserve. The first week of October signifies National Customer Service Week — a time devoted to recognizing the importance of customer service professionals. Initiated by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) in 1988 and supported by U.S. Senators Robert Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, along with U.S. Representatives Dan Glickman and Pat Roberts, it was proclaimed a national event by the U.S. Congress in 1992.

"There are two main purposes of National Customer Service Week. It lets you recognize the job that your customer service professionals do 52 weeks a year. The other purpose is to get the message across a wide range of business, government and industry that customer service is very important, along with bottom line profit in running a business," said John Kressaty, ICSA president.

The proclamation, signed by President George Bush, captures the importance of responsive and effective customer service:

"In a thriving free enterprise system such as ours, which provides consumers with a wide range of goods and services from which to choose, the most successful businesses are those that display a strong commitment to customer satisfaction. Today foreign competition as well as consumer demands are requiring greater corporate efficiency and productivity. If the United States is to remain a leader in the changing global economy, highest quality customer service must be a personal goal of every employee in business and industry.

A business built on customer service understands and anticipates the customer's needs. It designs goods and services to meet those needs and builds products that perform to customer expectations. It then packages them carefully, labels them correctly, sells them at a fair price, delivers them as scheduled, and follows up, as necessary, to satisfy the customer. This kind of commitment to service leads to customer loyalty and to genuine improvements at the bottom line.

A business will do a better job of providing high quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference. Customer service professionals work in the front lines where a firm meets its customers; where supply meets demand. With responsive policies and procedures and with simple courtesy, customer service professionals can go a long way toward ensuring customer satisfaction and eliciting the next round of orders and purchases.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 166, has designated the week of October 4 through October 10, 1992, as 'National Customer Service Week' and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of October 4 through October 10, 1992, as National Customer Service Week. I invite all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth."

Customer Service (CS) Week is typically celebrated by service departments, customer support, call center and help desk professionals, as well as entire service-oriented organizations. "At ICSA we encourage companies to initiate a planning committee as early as February. The committee also should be given a budget," notes Kressaty.

The week of recognition often coincides with customer service-related conferences, events and seminars, but the largest functions have been postponed or cancelled this year. However, many companies observe internally with excellence awards, incentives, luncheons and motivational celebrations. CustomerServiceWeek.com offers a list of celebratory acknowledgements for support professionals.

According to ICSA, the theme of this year's National Customer Service Week is: "It's All About You" with the purpose of creating a year-long positive message and providing a productive opportunity to generate an even stronger ongoing commitment to customer service excellence. The focus is to recognize the efforts of customer service professionals while also thanking customers.

"Customer Service professionals face new challenges every day," said Erika Perrault, vice president of marketing, Gift Certificate Center. "Every call is unique, requiring them to think fast and continuously develop new solutions. They are the most important human contact a customer will have with a company because it is their job to make sure the customer is satisfied. National Customer Service Week is a way to recognize their contribution to your company's success."

Among the companies that celebrated CS Week in 2000 are: 3M, Abbott Laboratories, ADP, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Air France, Allstate Life Insurance, American Airlines, American Diabetes Association, American Express, American Medical Association, Atlanta Journal & Constitution, BellSouth, BlueCross BlueShield, Cablevision, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, City of Cincinnati, City of Houston, Cox Communications,Dallas Morning News, DHL Worldwide Express, Federal Reserve Bank, Fleet Boston Financial, Frito-Lay, GMAC Mortgage, Government of Canada, Hallmark Cards, Hershey Foods Corporation, IKON Office Solutions, International Paper, Lenox Collections, LOreal, McGraw-Hill, Mercedes Benz, Motorola, National Car Rental, NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas Corporation), Pillsbury, Playtex, Prudential Securities, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Royal Bank, Rutgers University, SmithKline Beecham, Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages, Sprint, Sunoco, Syracuse University, The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Shopping Channel, TIAA-CREF, Time Life, Time Warner Cable, Toyota, U.S. Senate, Worldcom, and Xerox.

Industry supporters for the week of recognition include: Call Center eXchange, Customer Contact Strategy Forum, The Customer Service Group, Incoming Calls Management Institute (ICMI), The Right Answer, and Supportindustry.com.

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