12 Steps to Revive Customer Service Incentives
Is your customer service incentive program lagging? Are your people feeling disengaged and unmotivated? As a result of either or both, is customer service quality dwindling?
Under-motivated teams are unlikely to push themselves to their full potential for their employer. 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 customer service incentives.
1. Segment Your Audience
Who are the top customer service performers? Which employees don’t quite live up to your expectations?
Real customer service success 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. Segmenting your audiences helps to understand employees on an individual level, leading to more reasonable goal-setting and appropriate individualized communication.
Action Item: Segment top- and middle-tier employees.
2. Define Positive Behaviors
Now you 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.
Action Item: Create a list of positive behaviors your top performers do that you’d like others to emulate.
3. Define Explicit Goals
With the 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. Then, detail the steps needed to achieve that goal.
For example, if your goal is for your customer service team to better understand your product offerings, outline the steps needed:
- Reading product documentation
- Answering customer questions
- Using the product
- Completing training
Action Item: Create clear, attainable and distinct goals, and the steps leading up to each.
4. Balance Motivations
Some employees lean more toward extrinsic motivation—like tangible awards and money. 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.
Action Item: Consider how your customer service team is motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically.
5. Make It Short
Even if your customer service incentive program has long-term goals, breaking it up into smaller programs or sprints can increase impact in the short term. On account of the overload of online information, millennials and Generation Z participants have little patience for a long-winded, cumbersome incentive program.
Action Item: 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.
Action Item: Create team-driven incentives directly and visibly linked to the company’s strategic intent.
7. Make Rewards Meaningful
When employees have the ability to pool smaller earnings over time (to save up for a larger reward), you’ll see a team dedicated to hitting goals. The power to choose their own awards inspires motivation and personalizes the experience, creating ongoing engagement.
Action Item: Allow employees to pool earnings and offer them awards they actually want.
8. Recognize Employees on the Spot
See a team member exhibiting positive customer service? Recognize them and give their peers the ability to do the same.
Action Item: Offer compliments freely when employees succeed or show growth.
Related: Timely recognition impacts engagement and retention. Studies show 75% of employees would be satisfied with their job if they received at least one recognition a month.
9. Be Persistent
If at first people aren’t participating, grab their attention with engaging communications. Consistent and vibrant communication drive interest.
Action Item: Communicate—early and often.
10. Enable Two-Way Feedback
When employees know what you want out of the program, they can give better feedback on it. Keep them informed about goals and business objectives, then let them share their impressions of the program and how to improve it.
Action Item: 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 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, builds a culture of fairness and open communication. Not only will this improve program effectiveness, but employees will be inspired to participate knowing that their concerns are being addressed.
Action Item: Implement actionable feedback.
12. Repeat Your Customer Service Incentives
Brands can’t turn on incredible customer service like a light switch. It’s more like a battery—it tends to gradually weaken 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.
Action Item: Have a base program in place throughout the course of the year and strategically sprinkle in 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. Using the right incentives at the right times can be the catalyst to the kind of positive customer service interactions that drive brand loyalty.
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.