We hear compliments often in life. Whether it’s for a nice dress, a band you like, or a stunning piece of art, it feels good to be recognized for the things we care about. The same can be said regarding actions in the workplace, in particular for praise relating to a customer. Yet sometimes in the culture of business, it’s easy to overlook the common daily interactions between your customers and your service team. These strong working relationships that are being cultivated are important to the livelihood of your business and it’s up to your employees to keep them alive. Here are a few tips on how to create a customer service employee recognition program that will show respect to key members of your team and their value to your company.

  • Make sure to applaud the right people – Nothing ruins a recognition program faster than when you don’t praise the right people. Don’t leave the decision on the shoulders of one person; create a team and process of checks and balances for large displays of praise (such as awards) to make sure the right people get them.
  • Praise tenure, but don’t make it everything – Sticking around and doing good work is worthy of recognition in itself, but make sure this longevity isn’t essential. Companies that focus too much on recognizing tenure have difficulty building and improving their teams with new employees because they aren’t recognized enough.
  • Show recognition in a timely fashion – This is especially important for younger customer service teams. We live in a “Like” culture where people are used to receiving instant gratification for their actions. Sometimes waiting to recognize employees once a quarter just isn’t enough and you need to show praise in smaller quantities more frequently.
  • Not every act of recognition needs to be monetary – A bag full of gift cards and cash isn’t necessary all the time when telling someone “good job”. Bringing employees on stage at a company meeting to talk about their good actions or sending a mass email with a compliment tucked into a larger message also work well.
  • Use gamification sparingly at most – Once a pillar of recognition in the customer service industry, gamification (or making internal contests) has lost some of its luster as a tool for employee appreciation. It’s still fine in small doses and temporary spurts, but favoritism for popular employees and game manipulation can cause unnecessary problems in customer service teams. Leverage reporting and information to make sure these problems don’t happen in the future.
  • Enable peer-to-peer recognition – Thanks to technology, gamification has been primarily replaced by direct peer-to-peer recognition. More than ever, companies are using customer service software that allows employees to praise each other directly in the software for providing good responses to customers and coworkers. This praise is immediate and seen by all employees including colleagues and management.

To summarize, all businesses should be working to create a customer service employee recognition program that they can be proud of. Make absolutely sure company leadership takes the time to recognize the superstars in a major way when needed, but don’t forget about everyone else on a daily basis. In addition, don’t stress tenure too much and always attempt to show employee recognition in a timely fashion. Finally, lean more on peer-to-peer recognition than gamification and let your employees recognize each other to encourage good work among themselves. Once you establish a customer service employee recognition program you’re proud of, it will only be an asset for both retaining your current employees as well as attracting prospective employees, especially highly qualified candidates, through word of mouth.