15 Ways to Recognize Superior Customer Service

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel,” writes author of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care, Sybil F. Stershic. “And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”

It’s simple.

The better your employees feel about their work, the better your clients will feel about your brand. Satisfied employees engaging with customers demonstrate pride and enthusiasm for your business.

When your staff delivers superior customer service, it’s crucial to recognize their efforts. But how? Here are 15 ways to recognize superior customer service provided by your employees.

Involve management

When an employee or a team completes a project before the deadline or performs well for several weeks in a row, share this success with upper management. A quick email to management, with the individual/team copied on it, that details the excellent work accomplished shows you have taken the time to acknowledge their efforts.

Demonstrate appreciation

A simple, handwritten thank you note takes less than five minutes but has a long-lasting effect. Handwriting a note of appreciation to a customer service employee who has gone above and beyond the call of duty will make that person feel wonderful about their work. Sweeten the gesture with a $10 gift card to Starbucks or a nearby lunch spot.

Acknowledge a job well-done

Even if it was a small, one-off project, be sure you take a moment out of your day to tell a customer service employee doing a good job that you’ve noticed their work and appreciate it. You can even share the employee’s efforts at a team meeting or in a group email. Just acknowledging a job well-done will go a long way with your customer service representatives.

Increase inclusion

Invite customer service employees to participate in activities normally reserved for management. For example, a management meeting that includes some lower-level employees shows you’re interested in their thoughts about the topic and that they are a valuable member of the company.

Plan a surprise event

When your customer service employees least expect, surprise them with a party that recognizes their work. Some snacks, music, and maybe even a few drinks, and before you know it, your employees will feel far more satisfied in their jobs.

Organize a staff appreciation program

Create a system that allows customer service staff to earn points for their hard work. Through the staff appreciation program, they can cash in the points they’ve earned for small prizes, such as company-brand swag, or paid time off. You can even make it a competition to see which employee earns the most points each month or throughout the year.

Ask for input

Your employees have insights into your customer service process and business that management might not have considered. Host brainstorming meetings or get a suggestion box for the office. It can be intimidating for customer service representatives to express their suggestions or concerns, so make it easy for them and they’ll feel heard.

Make room for personal efforts

Does one of your employees volunteer with a local non-profit organization? Maybe one of your customer service reps plays in a band. Reserve a space in a common area, like a break room, where employees can post about what they are doing outside the office. This encourages comradely among your customer service team.

Think outside of the box

Schedule a meeting with upper-level management to discuss creative methods for recognizing your customer service staff. Consider fun, off-site events or engaging team building exercises. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ways management can recognize customer service successes.

One-on-one time

Calling an employee into your office to discuss their impressive work is a guaranteed mood-booster. It takes a few minutes and that employee who stayed late or picked up the extra slack will always remember that you were considerate enough to talk to them about their efforts in-person, one-on-one.

Share accomplishments

If your company has a newsletter or its own intranet platform, share customer service accomplishments in these spaces. Let everyone know how well an employee or a team is doing. This will not only be appreciated by the person/team but also motivate others to work hard so they can be included in the next announcement.

Present successful programs

When a customer service team executes a program successfully, have them share their work with the company. Organize a meeting where the team can present to management and elaborate on their accomplishments.

Start an Employee of the Month initiative

Have employees nominate one another for your company’s new Employee of the Month program. At the end of each month, present the Employee of the Month with a special certificate (don’t forget the jacket to make it even more special) at a company-wide meeting. Maybe even offer the Employee of the Month a special incentive, like a paid day off or lunch at a sit-down restaurant.

Celebrate everyone

Take the time to have some cake on your customer service employees’ birthdays or raise a glass on their work anniversaries. These are people, not cogs in a machine. Celebrating their special moments means you care about more than just their work.

Get to know them

Your employees are more than just their jobs. They have families, hobbies, and interests. They support charities, play on teams, or enjoy a variety of other non-work related activities. Learn the personal details of your customer service reps so you can engage in a real conversation with them.

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How to Ditch Daytime Sleepiness at the Office (for once and all)


While reaching for yet another cup of coffee to combat office sleepiness may seem like the most obvious thing to do, it’s not necessarily the best. Overloading on caffeine can actually make you feel worse, eventually disrupting your natural sleep pattern, making you jittery and nervous, or even resulting in heart palpitations or a stomach ache. Yuck is right, especially when you have a host of healthier ways to stay awake.

Check out a number of perk-you-up tips based on our own experience combined with info from Mark’s Daily Apple and Dr. Frank Lipman.

Get Enough Nighttime Shut-eye

Yeah, this one may seem obvious, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 41 million workers are still getting fewer than six hours of sleep each night. It’s not a wonder so many folks are slumped over at their desks; it’s a wonder any are even awake at all.

Try prepping your body for sleep with an electronic shutdown of your home around 10 p.m., turning off all computers and other electronics that prevent your body’s natural production of sleep-inducing melatonin. Blackout curtains and a sleep mask can additionally help eradicate all traces of light once you’re ready for slumber.

Let there be Light

That same light you’re trying to avoid at night should be sought out during the office slump. Take a quick walk outside in the bright sunshine or otherwise head into a super-bright and super-lit room.

Move it

running at lunch hour

Simply getting up from your desk and moving around the office can help increase alertness. Go one better with a bout of afternoon exercise. Instead of spending your lunch hour at the dark and crowded diner, try heading to the gym for a quick workout. Exercise can not only help you stay alert during the day, but it can help you sleep better at night (not to mention what it can do for killing off calories and stress).

Splish and Splash

A study out of Tokyo says bathing can help you stay awake, which means you’d get a double dose of natural pep if you showered after your midday gym workout. For those who don’t have a bathtub in their cubicle, you can try the age-old art of splashing cold water on your face fight daytime drowsiness.

Grab a Cat Nap

Got a quiet corner office no one’s using? Ask your boss if you can enjoy its solace for a quick, midday nap. Researchers from Missouri’s Harry S. Truman Veterans Administration Hospital found naps that lasted from 10 to 30 minutes seemed to increase alertness throughout the rest of the day. Going longer than 30 minutes, however, seemed to make people even groggier and less productive than before the nap.

Schedule Upbeat Afternoon Activities

If your afternoons are typically spent staring at a computer screen or otherwise engaged in mind-numbing work, why not try to switch it up with more vibrant activities. They can still be work-related, of course, but they can include an invigorating meeting with a new prospect, productive business gatherings, or even awards activities where employees can be rewarded with motivational gifts and honors. Bet no employee would dare fall asleep during one of those shindigs!

Pump up the Jams

music headphones

Add music to your activities, or even your mind-numbing computer work, and you can increase your alertness to even higher levels. A report published by the New Zealand Transport Agency found sleepy drivers who turned on their car stereos dramatically decreased their accident rates.

Try a Green Juice Boost

Greens are good at providing a burst of energy, particularly when you consume them in the form of vitamin-rich juice. Head to a juice bar during your afternoon break, or get a juicer for your home to create freshly pressed juice you can bring to work for an afternoon perk. Sounds like too much of a pain? Powdered green drinks are on the market you can mix and sip right at your desk.

And yes, you can still have your coffee. As long as you’re not downing more than four cups of coffee per day, MayoClinic reports that most folks do OK with moderate amounts of caffeine. Don’t forget caffeine is also found in chocolate and tea, which may also work in a pinch to get you through that afternoon office slump when napping, exercise, music, bathing or bright lights just won’t cut it.


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Top 5 Myths About Employee Retention

Myth or Fact

We know a thing or two about employee appreciation at Paper Direct. Part and parcel with it is an understanding of employee retention. That’s why we’d like to share our thoughts on some retention myths. Recognizing these common traps is a great way to avoid them.

Myth #1: Pay is the Leading Factor in Retention

A 2014 survey by Bamboo HR interviewed over 1,000 professionals to see what makes them tick. Among the motivating factors that lead to resignation, salary concerns only placed at number three. Denied advancement opportunity and an unhealthy work/life balance came out far ahead.

There are two lessons here. First, retention means creating opportunities for worthy employees. Second, treating employees like office fixtures doesn’t promote a long tenure.

Myth #2: Resigning Employees Have Nothing More to Contribute

Wrong. Getting their honest feedback, especially utilizing a proper exit interview, can reveal inefficiencies and discontent you never suspected. That’s immeasurably helpful in employee retention.

Gathering frank opinions can be tricky. After all, no one wants to burn bridges or blow a potential reference. If you’re concerned about reliability, consider hiring sensitive professionals outside your organization to conduct the interviews.

Myth #3: High Unemployment Means High Employee Retention  

Doesn’t economic crisis mean prudent management can go out the window? Pile more work on your employees and kick your feet up- people are too afraid to say boo, right?

Nope. Common sense dictates that valuable employees will likewise be valuable to other organizations. And when there’s chaff building in the applicant pool, it makes perfect sense to treat your current employees as they deserve.

Myth #4: New Hires Resign Because They Can’t Hack It

Some believe that large pools of new hires bring in the lazy and shiftless, those only interested in punching the time clock. The numbers couldn’t disagree more.

Another survey by Bamboo HR reveals that the vast majority of new hires are concerned to receive more on the job training and reviews of company policy. The logical inference is that these people are interested in doing their jobs well and understanding their new environment.

Myth #5: Turnover Only Affects HR

Employee retention isn’t just a human resources concern. True, HR has to devote a lot of time, money, and training to replace departing workers. But to talk as if theirs is the only department affected is to ignore the unity of an organization.

A departing employee takes many things with them. Unique customer relationships are lost. Work loads are disturbed and often painfully redistributed. Productivity is diminished. And hard won expertise disappears, perhaps permanently.

Employee retention invariably affects your enterprise across the board.

We hope we’ve contributed a bit to your understanding of employee retention. We’re keen to hear your insights too. Skip on over to Paper Direct to share your thoughts, form a collaboration, or just say hi!


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Opening Day: How to Make to Most of your Business Opening

Opening Day

Diving off the entrepreneurial precipice for the first time? Making plans for another profitable jaunt? Either way, any new enterprise can seem daunting with a thousand threads to tie off. That’s why a business opening checklist is indispensable, and we’ve got a couple of suggestions to add to yours. Before you throw open your doors, make sure to scratch off these oft-neglected items.

Get Your Permits in Order

Anyone who’s ever filed business taxes has seen the labyrinth of state and federal bureaucracies. The same applies to the permits. New business credentials are often incomplete, oversights which cost dearly down the road.

Don’t fall into the trap. Daunting as the paperwork may seem, government entities want you to succeed. A great resource to double check yourself is the U.S. Small Business Administration. Among their many great resources is an easily navigable permits directory.

Respect the Web

We’re not just talking about Facebook updates. A dedicated business domain, reliable hosting services, and quality web design should be considered the minimum for your business opening checklist. Build an elite web presence now, not later.

But presentation isn’t the only thing to consider. Once your niche is established, discovery is the other half of the battle. Many firms can help you with search engine optimization, content writing, and other online marketing needs. Make some calls, set up meetings, and pick a group that impresses you. Their services pay off handsomely.

Create Separate Accounts

Creating a dedicated business account is a prudent stop on your business opening checklist. You’re less likely to entangle your personal finances with company capital, plus financial institutions are often more generous with lines of credit.

But perhaps most importantly, it’s much easier to track company expenses. This is especially useful at tax time, as you won’t be picking business wheat from personal chaff to justify deductions.

Perfect an Elevator Pitch

business opening

It’s not enough to offer stellar goods and services. You have to briefly and persuasively explain why they’re necessary.

Relax if that doesn’t come easily- none of us are born salesmen. Tap your friends, family, and network for practice. Give them your best shot and ask for notes. With some constructive criticism and a few revisions, you’ll be able to pitch with poise to anyone.

Know Your Suppliers

We all need help to succeed. The best way to get it is to form good relationships with our suppliers. Whether you’re auditioning custodial services, equipment wholesalers, or telecommunication providers, choose professionals who take your business as seriously as you do. It’s the difference between resounding success and crippling delay.

Take Paper Direct, for instance. We know your business can’t exist in a marketing vaccum. That’s why we do our job so passionately. We know our timely, custom, and competent work helps you stand out from the crowd.

So put Paper Direct on your business opening checklist for business cards, promotional materials, and all the personal touches. Your new venture joined with our seasoned services makes a winning collaboration.

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Awesome Sunday School Recognition Ideas for Kids

Awesome Sunday School Recognition Ideas for Kids

Kids love praise. Knowing they’ve reached a goal or completed a task motivates them to continue doing well. Although Sunday School classes may seem like a fun place to socialize with friends, play games and listen to inspiring stories, there’s a lot of learning going on too. Let’s celebrate it!

Here’s four Sunday school recognition ideas to keep the youngest parishioners engaged and active in their religious studies.

Sunday School Growth Award

Progress should always be recognized and commended. The Sunday School Growth Award is ideal for students who’ve completed assignments and projects in a timely manner and shown a deep understanding and appreciation of the lessons they’re learning. These children are often eager to learn more, ask questions and have a genuine interest in growing within the congregation.

Heavenly Cooperation Award

Do you have students break into groups to learn songs and verses together? Take note of the children who work exceptionally well with others. They deserve a Heavenly Cooperation Award. Let them know how much you appreciate them being helpful and friendly to the other children in their group. This award will inspire others to be just as cooperative in the future!

Religious Leadership Award

As Sunday school students get older, they often take on leadership roles within the church. Some teach younger students, volunteer to be a teacher’s assistant or conduct special lessons for other classes. The Religious Leadership Award is for those students who go above and beyond to help others by being a mentor and role model to other students.

Finding Faith Award

Every Sunday school teacher knows of a few students who are working on finding their place in the church. This award should be presented to students who’ve experienced a defining moment and have newly accepted their faith. This award is perfect for presenting during the final class of the session or during a ceremony with family and friends present.

Do you need paper certificate to print your Sunday school recognition awards on? Paper Direct has a wide variety of festive, fun certificates to make your presentation perfect.


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10 Free Whimsical Wedding Fonts for Invitations & More

Grace Casual Invitations by PaperDirectOne of the best things about custom, designer wedding invitations is the fabulous calligraphy/ graphic designs the artists can do. While this truly looks amazing, it can get very expensive- very quickly.

Since wedding invitations are one of the first pieces of communication sent out, you want them to represent the entire look and feel of the wedding. Whether this is refined elegance or fun & flirty, you’ll want nice invitations no matter your budget.

If you’re printer-savvy, you can order DIY wedding invitations, download a free, whimsical font and presto- you’ve got a great-looking invitation on the cheap.

There are a number of fonts available for free download so you can create gorgeous wedding invites (and other things) for a fraction of the cost of custom written invitations.

Some of our favorite downloadable wedding fonts include:

free wedding fonts for DIY Invitations

See a font you really like? Find it below and download the file. Then, click into the file and press the “Install” button towards the top of the folder. It will automatically be imported into Microsoft Word where you can play with your wording and format. Undecided on which font perfectly fits the bill? Download more than one and compare before printing- that’s the beauty of PaperDirect’s print at home invitations.

wedding font 1

Download Always Forever

wedding font 2

Download Because I am Happy

wedding font 3

Download Cinnamon Cake

wedding font 4

Download Dextera

wedding font 5

Download I Love Me Some

wedding font 6

Download Lemon Yellow Sun

wedding font 7

Download Drawing with Markers

wedding font 8

Download Jasmine Reminescentse

wedding font 9

Download La Laboratoire

wedding font 10

Download Please Write me a Song

We hope your wedding invitations are not only stunning- but also easy to make and send out. For more wedding products, visit PaperDirect. We carry name tables, thank you cards, and more.

All fonts courtesy of Dafont.com

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Beautiful & Affordable Weddings: The Centerpieces

A limited budget does not have to limit the beauty or creativity of your wedding. In fact, having a limited budget enhances the creativity and helps to find beautiful alternatives to pricey centerpieces.

Weddings are one of the most memorable and important days of our lives and what better way to honor that than by having stunning centerpieces that reflect our true hearts—without having to drain the bank account?

We all know how easy it is to overshoot the wedding budget. All of those beautiful details add up and end up leaving a sizable debt if we’re not careful. That’s why budget friendly centerpieces are all the rage right now.

Are they gorgeous? Absolutely.

Here are some stunning and money saving ideas we think you’ll love.

Leaf Centerpieces


If you are planning a tropical or garden wedding, this idea saves a lot of money. Simple purchase oversized leafs by themselves or with simple vases or candles. This will add a warm pop of color without the price tag of flowers. Pictured is a hosta leaf. 

Dessert As Centerpiece

If you are having cupcakes, make them do double duty as your centerpiece? Cupcakes are little works of art and look beautiful on stands. By using them as the centerpiece you can save on big floral arrangements and choose something small and beautiful to supplement the entire look.

You could also go the route of placing individual chocolates in a designed spread. Double purpose and pleasure!


If you need something for your centerpieces, consider borrowing them from others.  Assisted living facilities, service organizations, and clubs may all have just the item you need and will often lend them to local residents. Friends and family are also great resources.

Party & Gifts

Wedding Centerpiece CAH

If you’re seeking a more-casual wedding, place vintage board games or party favors as centerpieces. Browse Oriental Trading Company for some great inexpensive items you can buy in bulk.

Use What is Available to You

In planning your wedding centerpieces, don’t forget to consider things that are available to you right outside your home. Things like tree branches, wildflowers, sand, bark, fruit, lanterns, antiques, and drift wood are all lovely and can serve as wonderful centerpieces.

Check with Your Location Vendor

If you are renting a venue, find out if they have supplies you can rent. Many have vases that can be rented at a nominal cost.

Go Minimalist

Baby's Breath centerpieces

[photo via]

Flowers are one of the most expensive elements of the wedding. One way to save is by making a few flowers go a long way with a minimalist design.Try either one flower per vase or a bouquet of baby’s breath.

Go Eclectic

If you do not have a collection of matching vases or containers, you can go eclectic and tie the look together with flowers.  Another way to bring the look together dramatically is by spray painting the containers all one color such as silver, white or cream.

Designed Table Tents

Black and White Table Tent

If you’re going for as inexpensive as possible, consider ordering some plain table tents. Then you can design them yourself, print them at home and you’re done. Try using whimsical fonts to add the table number, or better yet, include an ice breaker conversation starter for the table.

The wedding of your dreams is within your reach, no matter the budget. Get creative and the beauty will come to life!

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15 Ways Schools Can Appreciate Their Teachers (on the Cheap)

Day in and day out, teachers go above and beyond. From staying late to help students with projects, to arriving early to perfect lesson plans, this profession isn’t celebrated enough. So on May 5th it’s time to say Thank You!

15 ways schools can appreciate teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day!

appreciation ideas on the cheap

1. Have the school secretary reach out to parents and students. Ask for positive comments and words of gratitude to share in the teacher newsletter or on the bulletin board in the staff break room.

2. Organize a staff potluck (or have it catered!) on a Friday afternoon to spoil and thank educators for their dedication all year long.

3. Allow teachers to go casual and wear jeans on a specific day. Be sure to get a group picture to remember the event!

4. Hold a drawing for an exciting weekend outing that includes tickets to a local ball game, dinner at a new restaurant, overnight stay at a luxury hotel or tickets to a show.

5. Coordinate a special assembly with the students and present each teacher a certificate of appreciation in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day.

Thank You Vinyl Banners by PaperDirect

6. Ask the students to write messages on a huge “Thank You” banner during their lunch break. Then prominently display the sign at the entrance of the school for all the teachers to see.

7. Feature each teacher on the school’s social media accounts. Post a photo and a behind-the-scenes look at what the teacher does each day for the children.

8. Email each student an anonymous questionnaire asking who their favorite teacher is and why. Print out these comments on colorful paper and post them around the school for everyone to read.

9. In a small school, have the students prepare a short play to present to the teachers that focuses on gratitude and the things they’ve learned from their teachers.

Personalized Mugs by PaperDirect

10. Present each teacher with a personalized mouse pad or mug for their desk that highlights Teacher Appreciation Day.

11. Coordinate a special assembly to honor a Teacher of the Year. Have the students and parents vote on who should win.

12. Tuck a note into each teacher’s paycheck paperwork letting them know they’ve earned a free PTO day to use as they wish.

13. Have fresh doughnuts and gourmet coffee delivered to the staff break room early on a Monday morning for a delicious surprise.

14. Have a key school supervisor, such as a principal or superintendent, hand write a Thank You card to each teacher and personally deliver it throughout the day on Teacher Appreciation Day.

15. Organize a staff outing, such as bowling or lunch, so the teachers can mingle and socialize outside school grounds.

What are you waiting for? Choose a few ideas and start planning! Paper Direct has festive paper certificates and decorative border paper to help you get started.


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Oh The Places Your Grad Will Go…

Oh the places your grad will go.

This wonderful book is a common and thoughtful gift for graduates. It easily connects the start of your grad’s education with the next stepping stone- succeeding in the real world after high school or college.

If you have a graduate that you’re honoring, include a famous quote from this classic Dr. Seuss book in their graduation announcement, card or invitation.

Some of our favorites include:

Oh the Places Your Grad will Go #1

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Oh the Places Your Grad will Go #2

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

Oh the Places Your Grad will Go #2

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Oh the Places Your Grad will Go #4

“And will you succeed?
You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)”

Need more graduation inspiration? Whether you’re looking to make your grad’s party amazing, get the perfect gift or simply wish them well, browse PaperDirect’s selection of graduation celebration products.

Or simply grab a copy of the famous Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go… Inspiring young students for generations.

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Why Your Relationship with Your Employees Matters

Most managers dream of a work environment that consists of collaboration, ingenuity, productivity, low stress and high employee morale.

If you manage a group of people, it may be easier to make that dream into a reality than you think.

It all starts with one thing: building a great relationship with your employees.

Why does this matter so much? Why put the effort into building a solid foundation of mutual respect and trust? Why not just issue orders and expect them to be followed?

Because we’re all human. And as humans, we naturally work harder for those who are fair, consistent and kind. The more positive interactions we have with our boss, the more productive we tend to be.

Creating a good relationship with your employees isn’t just for their benefit. It can have numerous perks for yourself and the company as well.

It frees up your time

Frees up Time If employees feel that you trust them to use their own judgment to solve problems as they arise, you’ll discover that they’re in your office a lot less.

When you’re dealing with fewer questions and crises, you’ll be able to concentrate on other, higher level issues.

It leads to less mistakes

If you consistently demonstrate trust in your team, you’ll also probably find that employees make better decisions because they won’t want to let you down. In addition, you’ll probably make fewer mistakes as well since you’ll have more time to concentrate on your own work.

It cultivates creativity and innovation

Creativity and Inspiration Fear-based corporate cultures suppress any urge to think outside the box for fear of being shut down.

But an encouraging, supportive atmosphere allows employees to take risks, offer opinions and generate ideas that help the department and/or company succeed.

It makes change easier

Employees who have a good relationship with their manager are far more likely to go along with any changes you need to implement, even if they’re difficult ones. While there still may be some resistance (after all, none of us truly likes change), their trust in you will help them make the transition more quickly.

It reduces turnover

The cost of keeping an employee over the long term has far less impact on the bottom line than constantly hiring and training new employees. Having a great relationship with your team members creates a sense of loyalty and dedication, drastically reducing turnover.

It makes you look good to your superiors

Business When a team is happy, productive and innovative, it’s almost impossible for upper management not to notice. No doubt, they’ll want to know what you’re doing that’s so different from your peers, and they may even put you at the head of the line for the next promotion!

Shop at PaperDirect for all your employee recognition needs!

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