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Happy holidays everyone! Be careful on the roads out there this week! And watch out for crazy drivers wearing call-center telephone headsets!

What in Steve Jobs' name am I talking about you ask?

Well, in case you haven’t heard already, this week is, “National Customer Service Week!” I’m not making this up. It’s a real thing. Back in 1992 the United States Congress declared that the first week of October would be an annual nationally recognized event. And to seal the deal, George Herbert Walker Bush signed it into law.

National Customer Service week was created to help raise awareness of the vital role front line employees play in organizations. This holiday isn’t just for call center agents, but for anyone who works on the front line dealing with angry, disgruntled, iPhone wielding customers! This also includes front-desk staff, field service technicians, delivery drivers, airport ticket agents, hotel doormen, service dogs, coffee house baristas, or anyone else whose job involves placating whiny “customers”.

National Customer Service week is not some frivolous make-pretend holiday like “Sweetheart’s Day” dreamed up by greeting card companies. No, this is a genuine national holiday, as revered as Christmas or the Independence Day! It is our duty as citizens of the business world to honor those men and women on the front lines who sacrifice their sanity on a daily basis to keep us safe from the unruly mobs of angry customers.  

So, how should companies celebrate National Customer Service week? Do you just hand your call center agents a “#1 Service Rep” coffee mug stuffed with an gift certificate and call it a day? Sure… If you’re completely lame. Otherwise, you might want to think up something a bit more creative and motivational like theme days, awards ceremonies, cubicle decorating contest and other ideas. As a rule of thumb, err on the side of fun rather than stuffy. Even if employees find it corny, they will still appreciate the effort and crack a smile.

One of the best examples of employee motivation efforts I’ve ever seen came from an actual SAP customer in the pharmaceuticals and medical products industry. As part of their CRM upgrade project the company wanted to increase employee buy-in. They spared no expense in their change management initiative which included all of the normal activities like end-user training, super-user champions, viral videos and collateral, and on-site technical support. But in addition, they also added an element of fun. For example, the call center managers would dress up in cheerleader costumes and run through the call center cheering on the service reps. Silly? You bet!. Effective? More effective than you would ever believe!

Enter the Contest

So, with that in mind, here’s the contest. What’s the best employee motivation initiative you’ve ever conducted at your company or heard about at another company? Please leave a short description in the comments section below briefly explaining the initiative and the results.

All contest entrants will receive a free conference pass (SAP customers only; no vendors) to the Technology Services World (TSW) conference in Las Vegas, Oct 15 - 17 (entrants are responsible for their own hotel, transportation and expenses). In addition, one winner will be selected at the end of the week. The winner will receive a no-expenses paid "date" with SAP customer service guru John Burton. The “date” shall take place either at SAP’s Palo Alto headquarters or will be conducted virtually for customers located outside the San Francisco Bay Area. Topics of conversation for the “date” shall be limited to questions about SAP CRM Interaction Center/Service functionality, SAP CRM upgrade tips and best practices, Social CRM tactics and strategies, etc. Sorry, no hand holding, back massages, or parting kisses on the cheek :wink: .

*** Disclaimer: Event scheduling is subject to John Burton’s availability. SAP reserves the right to amend, modify or terminate this promotion in its sole discretion.