Revive Your Customer Service Incentives in 12 Speedy Steps

ITA Group
ITA Group

technician providing customer service to client

Is your customer service incentive program lagging? Are your people feeling disengaged and unmotivated? Is the quality of your customer service dwindling because of this?

Under-motivated teams are unlikely to push themselves to their full potential for their organization. They’ll do what’s required, of course, but if that’s all you’re getting out of your people, it’s time to breathe new life into your customer service incentives.

No matter your industry, these 12 actionable ideas can help add fresh interest to a stale program.

1. Define Positive Behaviors

You already know who your top customer service performers are. But why are they top performers? What steps do they take and what behaviors do they exhibit that put them ahead? Those are the things your program should focus on.

Do this now: Create a list of positive behaviors your top performers do that you’d like others to emulate.

2. Segment Your Performers

Who are the top customer service performers? Who didn’t quite live up to your expectation?

Real success in your customer service lies in your entire team’s ability to perform. If you can identify those struggling you can provide better resources that drive them to do better. Understanding your employees on an individual level will help you foster reasonable goal setting and appropriate individualized communication when segmenting your audience.

Do this now: Divide out top- and middle-tier employees.      

3. Define Explicit Goals

With that list of positive behaviors you want each segment of your customer service team to exhibit, create an outline of specific goals you want to achieve. More than that, detail the steps needed to achieve that goal.

For instance, if your goal for your customer service team is to know your product offerings better, outline the steps needed for that: reading product documentation, answering customer questions, using the product and more.

Do this now: Create clear, attainable and distinct goals and the steps leading up to each.     

4. Balance Motivations

Some employees lean more toward extrinsic motivation—tangible awards and money, for instance. And others are swayed by intrinsic motivation, including purpose, belonging and praise. But the secret lies in the balance of internal and external motivators to align and inspire your employees.

Do this now: Consider how your customer service team is motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically.      

Related: Are your people working remotely these days? Learn more about intrinsic and extrinsic motivators as well as applying the science of motivation to improve mobile work.

5. Make It Short

Even if your customer service incentive program has long-term goals, breaking it up into smaller programs or sprints can make it more impactful over the short run. On account of the deluge of online information, millennials and Generation Z will have little patience for a long-winded, cumbersome incentive program.

Do this now: Think about how your program can be broken down into smaller, more imperative components.      

6. Encourage Group Goal-Setting, Collaboration & Teamwork

Sometimes the intrinsic motivation of not letting your team down, paired with the extrinsic motivation of a reward you can all enjoy has the power to do what an individual incentive couldn’t.

Do this now: Create team-driven incentives directly and visibly linked to the company’s strategic intent.

7. Let Them Strive for Something Better

When your employees can pool smaller earnings over time to save up for something larger, you’ll see a customer service team dedicated to hitting goals. And with a deep award catalog, your employees are sure to find something that keeps them going.

Do this now: Allow employees to pool earnings and give them awards they really want.    

8. Reward People on the Spot

See someone exhibiting positive customer service? Recognize them and give their peers the ability to do the same.

Do this now: Offer compliments freely when your people succeed or show growth. A simple thank you goes a long way at work.     

9. Be Persistent

If at first people aren’t participating, grab their attention with communication. Consistent and vibrant communication will drive interest.

Do this now: Communicate—early and often.     

Related: Find out how ITA Group implemented a successful employee communications plan to roll out new benefits throughout our organization.

10. Enable Two-Way Feedback

Your employees know what you want out of the program, and they can be a big help in knowing how to make your program better. Let them share their impressions of the program and how to improve it.

Do this now: Conduct follow-up surveys before, during and after your customer service incentive program.    

11. Follow Through on What You Learn

Don’t just gather feedback and do nothing with it. If your employees have actionable tips that could be seen as beneficial to the process, implement them. Asking for regular feedback from your team, and acting on it, will build a culture of fairness and open communication. Not only will this improve the effectiveness of the program, your employees will be inspired to participate knowing that their concerns are being addressed.

Do this now: Find a way to implement feedback.      

12. Repeat Your Customer Service Incentives

Companies can’t turn on and off incredible customer service like a light switch. It’s more like a battery—it tends to get gradually weaker until it’s reengaged with its power source. Your customer service team must have their batteries charged, and that’s where customer service incentives come in.

Do this now: Leave a base, steady program throughout the course of the year and strategically sprinkle in spurts or bursts of communication, earnings and awards when you anticipate a slump.

Success Comes Down to Motivation

No matter what industry you’re in, motivating your service personnel to step up their game is incredibly important. One false step in a customer service interaction and you’re in trouble.

Start with an assessment—like we did for one automotive OEM service incentive program that resulted in a 5-spot jump in national customer satisfaction rankings in just two years.