The New Normal Series: #2 Why Recognition of Virtual Team Members Matters Even More During a Pandemic

Recognizing virtual team members during this pandemic has become even more vital for them to feel safe and connected.

Every year during the first week of October, we celebrate Customer Service Week. It’s a week filled with fun activities that recognize and acknowledge the hard work of our virtual team members. Many businesses in our industry enjoy rallying around a national theme which is “Dream Team” in 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year has been like no other. Many frontline customer service professionals are experiencing added stress related to the pandemic. They along with their friends and family have been impacted. Yet, customer expectations have not changed. If anything, patience has waned for so many Americans trying to manage their own reactions and at times express those frustrations with frontline customer service professionals. It is important to take some time to thank the wonderful team members handling this influx of customer service calls. It is no secret that employee recognition plays a vital role in creating meaning and purpose for team members. A Work Human study asked workers to rank the reasons why they stay at their companies. Nearly a third – 32% – of respondents chose, “My job – I find the work meaningful,” as their top answer. Compensation was third on the list.

At VIPdesk, we support iconic luxury retailers, home improvement and consumer electronic brands. Each of these industries has experienced rapid acceleration of growth. The logistics side of inventory and delivery during the pandemic has not caught up with the growth. The result? Increased customer contacts, large volumes of phone, email and chat interactions, longer hold timesleading to frustrated customers. These customers in turn share their frustration with our customer service team (Brand Ambassadors).

Our team has always been remote, but we have not had a pandemic impacting our teams. So, this year, we’ve worked diligently to infuse extra support, add fun and bring some sunshine into our team’s daily lives.

If you are celebrating Customer Service Week, or you would like a few ideas to enhance your recognition programs, we have a few suggestions for you:

1- Host a Theme Week

2- Send “Thank You” Gifts to Your Team

3- Express Gratitude

4- Leverage a Recognition Platform

5- Post Photos on Your Social Platforms

1. Host a Theme Week

Remember “Spirit Week” back in high school? Have a committee come up with a theme for each day and encourage your team members to participate. Since we are all virtual, our daily themes encourage each team member to share and connect with one another. We are in meetings all day long – and our team works with customer contacts all day long. It’s nice to be able to learn about their pets, family & friends, home office, favorite sports teams, and books, etc. We encourage our team to share a bit about themselves in our internal chatroom as well as on social media. We also have included activities like virtual scavenger hunts, virtual coffee conversations or happy hour gatherings and more. Here’s a peek at our week this year:

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2. Send "Thank You" Gifts to Your Team

In addition to theme weeks, we like to send each of our remote team members a gift that aligns with our company and certified B Corp values.. We have sent reusable water bottles, healthy snacks, reusable straws, gratitude journals, spa gift sets, and more.. This year, we partnered with an organization called Peace of Thread. We shipped our team beautiful face masks made by women refugees. This is an impactful non-profit organization that is run by women (just like our organization) and they support women all over the world. These amazing and dedicated women make products from handbags to masks. We love the idea of supporting a mission-driven organization that supports women during this difficult time. Each mask is hand-made, comes with its own unique story and features the artisan’s initials.

3. Express Gratitude

Often it is the simplest concept that sparks the greatest appreciation. Our leadership team records videos of gratitude shared throughout the week. We start our morning huddle meetings asking a simple question: What we are Grateful For? Many answers have to do with our amazing team, but they don’t often hear these messages. So, expressions of gratitude throughout the week are especially meaningful to our hard-working team..

4. Leverage a Recognition Platform

Our Executive Team attended the “Work Human” conference for several years as it aligns perfectly with our core guiding principle of being “More Human.” This year, their annual conference in mid-October this year is free for anyone who wants to attend. They offer several amazing recognition tools/platforms. We leverage Microsoft Teams and designate a room for Customer Service Week each year. We also have a Peer Recognition room that allows our team to give daily shout-outs of appreciation for one another.

5. Post Photos on Socials

Our team also loves to celebrate on social channels. For our team, we focus on Instagram. For those who are comfortable sharing, we post their fun photos on Instagram. This allows us to celebrate our amazing team with the world.

Tune in to our classic podcast on Customer Service Week to learn more:   

As we move into our next phase with a virtual team, our focus will be to support the new challenges we all face together.  If you are interested in learning about the basics of remote work, we suggest reading our earlier BLOG series on work from home tips. Here you’ll find “5 Proven Tips To Set Up a Remote Workforce Successfully.”  You can read “5 Best Communication Practices for a Remote Workforce” here. And finally, you will discover “10 Tips for Remote Workers To Keep Their Sanity” here.