Customer Service Manager Tip of the Day: Create Effective Incentives for Your Team


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As a cus­tomer ser­vice man­ager, you undoubt­edly deal with employ­ees who lack moti­va­tion, or who just need that extra kick to get them in gear. You have met­rics you have to hit, but you’re run­ning out of ways to keep your team focused on the goal.

Some­times, all peo­ple need are some extra incen­tives and rewards—both tan­gi­ble and otherwise.

Incen­tives Cer­tainly Aren’t A New Idea—But Do They Work?

Most likely, your com­pany already has a set of reward and recog­ni­tion sys­tems in place. A recent arti­cle that pro­filed a Worl­dat­Work sur­vey states that 86 per­cent of com­pa­nies use recog­ni­tion tools as part of their cor­po­rate strat­egy. In the cus­tomer sup­port world, in par­tic­u­lar, cus­tomer ser­vice man­agers use incen­tives to attract star agents and build teams. When admin­is­tered cor­rectly, incen­tives help fos­ter employee loy­alty and com­pany pride. How­ever, it’s worth examining—are incen­tives effective?

Inter­est­ingly, many com­pa­nies aren’t sure. Another study found that 37% of employ­ees don’t know how sat­is­fied their employ­ees are with the com­pany recog­ni­tion pro­gram, and 15% claimed that their employ­ees don’t find the rewards pro­gram beneficial.

So, before you go to order a box load of engraved pens, don’t add them to your vir­tual shop­ping cart until you answer the fol­low­ing questions:

  1. What rewards are applic­a­ble in a cus­tomer ser­vice environment?
  2. How will you mea­sure the effec­tive­ness of the incentives?

Incen­tives, Rewards, Goals, etc.

You want to be an effec­tive cus­tomer ser­vice man­ager, and you want your employ­ees to both respect you and be moti­vated to work for you. So what kinds of rewards work in the fast-paced, high-pressure envi­ron­ment of call centers?

Inter­est­ingly, in employee sur­veys we’ve seen, peo­ple aren’t moti­vated solely by money. Believe it or not, but many con­tact cen­ter employ­ees find the idea of new skills and knowl­edge a great incentive—if they know that it will lead to a pro­mo­tion or job enhance­ment. Below is a list of rewards that we’ve seen cus­tomer ser­vice man­agers have suc­cess with:

  • Addi­tional cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing—when it leads to the poten­tial for advancement
  • Bet­ter work envi­ron­ment and work­ing conditions
  • Job secu­rity
  • Bonuses/commissions
  • Employer con­tri­bu­tions to work plans
  • Options for flex­i­ble schedules

But the Most Effec­tive Incen­tives Cus­tomer Ser­vice Man­agers Use …

The most moti­vat­ing rewards are strate­gic in nature. By strate­gic, we mean that when cus­tomer ser­vice man­agers are devis­ing an incen­tive pro­gram, they first think through the fol­low­ing points:

The incen­tives are tied to a spe­cific goal. Typ­i­cally, incen­tives are tied to a goal deal­ing with pro­duc­tiv­ity, met­rics, or qual­ity. First, out­line the goal you want your agents to reach, and make sure it’s an obtain­able goal. For exam­ple, if your cur­rent CSAT rate is at 78, and you want it to be at 90 in three months—that’s prob­a­bly not realistic.

Let your agents choose their incen­tives. You know who knows what incen­tives are moti­vat­ing? The peo­ple receiv­ing them. It’s appro­pri­ate for cus­tomer ser­vice man­agers to involve agents in fig­ur­ing out which rewards will be enticing.

Make the process part of the goal. Instead of just say­ing, “Here’s the goal – go!” make the process of achiev­ing the goal reward­ing. This doesn’t mean that every moment will be a theme park ride (some­times you have to wait in line, after all), but you can cre­ate energy around the chal­lenge of work­ing toward the goal. It’s help­ful to give agents progress reports as they make their way along.

In Con­clu­sion, Mea­sure Your Efforts

Hey! Great! Another met­ric for you to track! Don’t panic—this one is much eas­ier, then, say, aver­age han­dle time. It is impor­tant to make sure that your incen­tives are work­ing, even if you’ve had input from your team on design­ing the reward pro­gram. You can devise a sim­ple employee sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey and also mon­i­tor pro­duc­tiv­ity sta­tis­tics and turnover ratios to gauge the effi­cacy of your rewards program.

Inter­ested in learn­ing more tips on how to improve as a cus­tomer ser­vice man­ager? Browse our resource library for hun­dreds of use­ful arti­cles and tips.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


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