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.

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