Want To Give Great Customer Service? Recognise Recognition Works!


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Just back from hosting a management conference for Parkdean Holidays, and a key topic was ‘recognition’ and how we can demonstrate to our people that we care for them. It was evident from the enthusiasm and passion in the room, that the Parkdean managers DO care about their people – the challenge, as in many businesses is to demonstrate that in the day to day.

Recognition is a key ingredient in 3D Charactersitic #5 Create an UBER Culture and it is part of ‘the way we do things around here’. How do 3D busineses do it?

Well, there are lots of ways, and here are 3 key principles to consider:

1. Establish The Behaviours You Want!

This is about making it very clear to people what is expected of them, and the ‘preferred behaviours’ that you want. 3D businesses spell these out and get ‘buy in’ to those behaviours at every level. It’s not just about putting ‘motivational posters’ up highlighting your ‘values’. It’s about making those values meaningful to people in their day to day jobs and there are real tangible benefits in doing so. According to the report “Fall 2012 Report: Revealing Key Practices for Effective Recognition by management expert Derek Irvine 79 % of employees say recognition tied to core values gave them a stronger sense of company goals and objectives.

2. ‘Systemise’ It!

No, this doesn’t mean that you HAVE to have an ’employee of the month’ award. It’s about having some form of process that helps you identify those who are doing these things.This identification process could involve your leaders, your staff and even your customers!

United Airlines recently paid out $125,000 to employees who had been recognised by their customers as providing excellent customer service – they set up a formal process for this to happen. Parkdean have an annual Outstanding Contributions Award ceremony and last night’s was a fantastic event with a real ‘buzz’! It was clear that the formal recognition of people in front of their peers was a real motivator. B Braun have a ‘formal process’ by which employees can nominate colleagues who ‘go the extra mile’ and complete a simple form highlighting what they did and which ‘value’ this demonstrated. Anyone can nominate anyone else and the nominees are reviewed and evaluated by an employee group, not just senior managers, and ‘rewards’ are given to the ‘winners’!

3. Make The Rewards Work!

It doesn’t have to be money, but it does have to mean something to the receiver. I was once in a retail store and was served by a brilliant young shop assistant. Noticing their poster that said ‘Nominate Our Customer Champions!‘, I informed the 17 year old that I was going to nominate him. “Please don’t” he said. “Why not?” I asked. “I’ve already had 7 nominations this month”. “That’s great” I said, “You’ll win!” “I don’t want to win…” came the response “the prize is you get to go to dinner with the Managing Director!”

An ‘incentive’ that doesn’t incentivise people isn’t an incentive!! And while, we ‘re on this, whatever you do, please don’t do what a lot of businesses do and ‘reward’ your best employees with more work! Have you got someone in your team who if you want doing something right, you give it to them? And then when they do that, you give them even more?

Formal processes are great, but a key issue is for leaders to ‘recognise’ their people doing things well in their day to day activities! So, crucially…

Build It Into Your ‘Day To Day’!

Here are some guidelines to consider:

– Catch Your People Doing Things! Spot people doing things well and acknowledge it. Be specific about what you’re acknowledging – avoid simple generic ‘well dones’ wherever possible. Can’t find them doing these things? You’re either not looking properly, or you’ve got the wrong people!

– Link It! Make it meaningful by highlighting how it’s contributed to achieving a specific goal or target, or reinforced or demonstrated one of your ‘preferred behaviours’.

– Be Authentic! Don’t just suddenly start doing it randomly and ungenuinely – people will think ‘you’ve been on a course’!

– Do It Appropriately! Some people love ‘public recognition’ in front of their peers – others prefer a ‘quiet word’. Make sure you get that right!

One of the slides we used in the conference was the Maya Angelou quote:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!

Recognise that?

For a free 16 page ebook on Creating An UBER Culture, just click here – hope you find it a ‘rewarding read’!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


  1. Hi Andy – it was interesting that you gave United Airlines as an example of a recognition system since their service is ranked at the bottom of major US airlines. I saw that recognition myself and have been split over whether this is a step in the right direction, or is it really a distraction from the real customer service problems that plague their company.

  2. Jeff

    That’s a good point!

    I took it (in my typical optimistic way!) that they had to start somewhere – their challenge is clearly to start making it work for them – it will be interesting to see how they do!

    The whole debate – do you focus on customers first or employees first, is an interesting one!

    Always keen to hear what people think about that one!


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