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Why Customer Service Week Matters – Recognition and Encouragement

Empathy, mental health, and call de-escalation techniques are top of mind for service leaders as we celebrate the hardworking customer service agents on the front lines.

Customer Service Week brings encouragement, recognition, and advice to service agents and leaders. [Getty Images/Luis Alvarez]

Customer service agents go through a lot. They have to quickly adapt to digital transformation and new ways of working, while facing increased caseloads amid the distractions of working from home. At the same time, agents are more important to the business than ever, acting as brand ambassadors as customer experience has become a key differentiator that drives growth. 

“We tend to glorify products, but not necessarily the work that goes into making sure those products are updated and shipped on time and arrive the right way and are functional,” said Sam Falletta, chairman of the Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), the host of National Customer Service Week. “There’s an entire industry dedicated to doing this in a pleasant way, in a timely fashion, at an ever-increasing scale. So let’s celebrate the individuals behind the scenes: our customer service teams.”

National Customer Service Week 2021 is an opportunity to hear what’s top of mind for service leaders today as they support their service teams.

National Customer Service Week 2021 is an opportunity to hear what’s top of mind for service leaders today as they support their service teams.

This is the first time that PACE, a nonprofit trade association for contact-center professionals, will host National Customer Service Week. The first annual event was in 1984, and since then companies and brands have hosted their own individual celebrations. PACE is providing a forum for collective celebration and unifying all the individual efforts with the theme “Celebrating the Heart of Service,” honoring the customer-service professionals who go above and beyond to make a difference in their companies and for their customers. 

“The first week of October is about celebrating the unsung heroes who power customer service,” Falletta said. Each day of the celebration (Oct. 4-8, 2021), PACE will recognize a Service Star with a H.E.A.R.T. award, so-named for five categories of service excellence: helping others, exceeding expectations, achieving goals, responding with care, and thriving through teamwork. Service Stars will be recognized for each category.

What’s top of mind for service leaders today

In addition to honoring frontline agents, National Customer Service Week is an opportunity to hear what service leaders are focused on now. Leaders today are interested in supporting wellness for both employees and customers, and providing the tools and training agents need to thrive at work. 

“Top of mind for service leaders today is the importance of empathy,” said Falletta, the PACE chairman. “Customer service people have trained and mastered empathy in a way that allows them to be more skilled in dealing with the pressure that everybody’s under — and that customers place on them.

“What’s hard is that service agents are dealing with a lot themselves, which is why it’s so critical that leaders acknowledge and address the importance of mental health for their employees. Service leaders are thinking about managing the whole person, as opposed to just driving the numbers or the outcomes.”

Service leaders are thinking about managing the whole person, as opposed to just driving the numbers or the outcomes.

Sam Falletta, Chairman of PACE

One way to help agents flourish at work is improving the culture and sense of community within the workplace. Another is giving agents technology tools that make their jobs more manageable and satisfying. These two strategies can help strengthen your contact center, boost agent retention and empower agents to deliver better customer experiences. 

Encourage connection, learning and community in your service organization, and invest in automation and AI such as customer chatbots and robotic process automation,” said Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud. “This frees agents from high-frustration, routine tasks. Intelligent assistance for agents — things like customer call transcription and guided next-best action suggestions — allow agents to focus on connecting with customers and resolving issues quickly.”

In addition to tech tools, service leaders should offer training to help agents improve their skills, according to Shih. After all, 70% of executives agree an improved employee experience leads directly to improved customer experience, according to Forbes Insights Research. “In the end, investing in the agent experience improves customer experience, loyalty and business growth,” Shih said. 

Investing in the agent experience improves customer experience, loyalty and business growth.

Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce Service Cloud

Resilience is a key trait to cultivate in agents, and leaders realize they can support their teams by providing coaching and figuring out how to give agents more flexibility and more frequent breaks, according to Falletta. Agents can benefit from employee assistance resources, mental health counselors and yoga sessions. “Some of the more progressive folks are saying, ‘We’re going to confront mental health challenges, and teach our people skills so that everybody’s more capable and can weather the storm,’” Falletta said. 

Service leaders are also focused on equipping agents to handle customers whose patience has worn thin. In fact, 99% of the requests that Myra Golden, a customer experience designer who trains frontline agents, receives are for teaching agents de-escalation techniques.

“What I’m hearing from service leaders today is, ‘How do we bring down the temperature of a call and redirect intense interactions?’” said Golden, who will offer daily workshops during Customer Service Week. “‘How do we prepare our employees to move customers forward?’”

How do we bring down the temperature of a call and redirect intense interactions?

Myra Golden, Customer Experience Designer

Another top concern among service leaders, said Golden, is reducing average call handle time. She’s been contacted not only by leaders, but individual agents whose organizations don’t provide training, but who see the benefit in learning new skills.

What to expect at Customer Service Week

The events and activities PACE has lined up for Customer Service Week are designed to honor the work of service agents, managers and leaders, as well as to equip them with new skills and re-energize them to continue in their careers. 

“Everybody is burnt out. Everybody is overloaded,” says Falletta, the PACE chairman. Customer Service Week can help restore energy to these hardworking service professionals. This year’s lineup includes:

  • Myra Golden on de-escalation and call control techniques that agents can use to reduce call handle time and deliver a great customer service experience.
  • Interactive fireside chats with Kevin Lao from Google on agent training and retention, Terri Haffey from Domino’s on the voice of the customer, and Brian Solis and Jim Roth from Salesforce on service trends driving transformation.
  • On-demand content showcasing what excellent service looks like in a reimagined, human-centric contact center.
  • Global trends from the State of Service report, and the secrets to digital customer service success. 
  • Afternoon send-offs and H.E.A.R.T. awards with voice actor Joshua Seth.

“It’s time to acknowledge that business would have tanked last year if it weren’t for the resilience of customer service teams,” said Golden. “It’s time to honor them with recognition, respect, and revelry.”

View the full event schedule for Customer Service Week and register now. 


Allison is a product marketer at Salesforce where she leads Trailblazer Marketing for Service Cloud. When she’s not sharing inspiring stories, she’s focused on emerging industry and product trends. While away from work you can find Allison spending time with her family in San Francisco. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

More by Allison Johnson Bryan

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