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.


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