The Fifth Key to Implementing a Successful Customer Service Strategy: Recognition and Reward


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In pre­vi­ous parts of this series I’ve touched on the impor­tance of INTENT and how under­stand­ing and act­ing from intent will inspire your team. And I’ve writ­ten about the impact of empow­er­ing your teams and on ways to enable them. The third blog in this series talked about the impor­tance of pro­vid­ing the kind of train­ing that pre­pares your teams to deliver the intent of the strat­egy. And in the last seg­ment you read about how crit­i­cal mon­i­tor­ing and giv­ing feed­back is to sus­tain­ing the suc­cess of a cus­tomer ser­vice strategy.

The fifth and final key is to rec­og­nize and reward your team for excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice per­for­mance. Your recog­ni­tion can be per­sonal or pub­lic. What’s impor­tant is that the employee knows that his or her achieve­ments are known and appreciated.

We’ve seen clients use mes­sage boards, e-mail blasts, ban­ners, joy­ful high-five parades, tro­phy belts wor­thy of a rodeo cham­pion, even spot­lights at com­pany meet­ings to rec­og­nize employ­ees for their achieve­ments. And I’ve never seen any­one not be thrilled.

Cash rewards work best if they are given imme­di­ately after a major achieve­ment, accord­ing to Bob Nel­son, author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employ­ees. “Reserve one or two per­cent of your base pay bud­get for cash pay­outs to rec­og­nize top per­form­ers,” he says. “These rewards have ter­rific moti­va­tional power, par­tic­u­larly when given as quickly as pos­si­ble. Small perks–like gaso­line credit cards or gift cards –are also nice perks when money is tight.”

Kudos don’t have to always come from man­age­ment. In an arti­cle on, Talia Mashiach, CEO of Eved, a 27-employee event-services com­pany in Chicago said that Eved “uses its pro­pri­etary inter­nal soft­ware sys­tem to let employ­ees give each other stars for jobs well done. The per­son with the most stars each quar­ter gets treated to a lunch out with the exec­u­tive team.”

Crowd-sourced recog­ni­tion is an emerg­ing trend. More and more orga­ni­za­tions are empow­er­ing employ­ees to rec­og­nize each other for great work. These same orga­ni­za­tions are find­ing that crowd-sourced recog­ni­tion data (rely­ing on mul­ti­ple sources) is help­ful at review time in giv­ing a more accu­rate pic­ture of an employee’s per­for­mance than if the infor­ma­tion comes solely from the direct man­ager. And there are plenty more ben­e­fits for encour­ag­ing peer-to-peer recognition.

When you look at com­pa­nies that pro­mote peer-to-peer recog­ni­tion ver­sus those that don’t, they are 11.5% more likely to impact engage­ment in the work­place, 28% more likely to rein­force cor­po­rate val­ues; 34.8% more likely to help with employee reten­tion; and 35.7% more likely to have a pos­i­tive impact on finan­cial results.”

Soci­ety for Human Resources Man­age­ment 2012 Report: The Busi­ness Impact of Employee Recognition

If you want to make a reward really spe­cial, sur­prise your team with some­thing they didn’t expect. Bring in a masseuse for chair mas­sages for an after­noon or bring in a local chef for an impromptu cook­ing class for, maybe, healthy pizza.  If it’s really a sur­prise it can add to the value of the reward. Accord­ing to Stan­ford pro­fes­sor Haya­greeva “Huggy” Rao com­ment­ing on his orga­ni­za­tional behav­ior exper­i­ments, “It’s the ele­ment of sur­prise, not the size of the reward that really moves people.”

You just need to fig­ure out what kinds of rewards your team mem­bers will value most. Some peo­ple want time off the phones, oth­ers appre­ci­ate mon­e­tary rewards, oth­ers appre­ci­ate things like gaso­line credit cards, gift cer­tifi­cates for local stores, or money for a burger and fries. It depends on the indi­vid­ual. For added boost, tie recog­ni­tion to your organization’s core val­ues and strate­gic objec­tives to make it more mean­ing­ful and rein­force those val­ues and objec­tives in the minds of your employees.

One cau­tion — don’t rely on rewards to do your coach­ing for you. Tan­gi­ble rewards are a great way to pos­i­tively rein­force behav­iors and reward reps for their achieve­ments; but you shouldn’t rely on them to do your talk­ing for you. There’s no sub­sti­tute for your coach­ing and feedback.

So if you want to make sure that your cus­tomer ser­vice strat­egy isn’t rel­e­gated to the “Fla­vor of the Month” file, be sure that part of your imple­men­ta­tion includes the recog­ni­tion of  peo­ple who are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, who embody the strat­egy… and reward them.

Here are a few ques­tions to ask yourself:

  • How often are employ­ees in your orga­ni­za­tion for­mally rec­og­nized for their good work?
  • How are you or your man­agers held account­able for recog­ni­tion and reward in your organization?
  • What kinds of rewards moti­vate your team?
  • What kinds of rewards will sur­prise them?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Monica Postell
Customer Satisfaction Expert @ Impact Learning Systems | Instructional Designer | Performance Improvement Specialist | Call Center Consultant | Artist | Global citizen and world traveler making the world a better place once class at a time.


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