How to Reward and Recognize Customer Service Employees?

How to Reward and Recognize Customer Service Employees?

Great customer experience is one of the key requirements for ensuring the success and growth of any business organization. In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to shift their loyalties to an organization promising to offer better customer experience.   In order to create such an experience, it is important for companies to train and prepare their employees to be customer-centric. However, such training and preparation form only one aspect of ensuring customer satisfaction and happiness. A customer service organization be it a call center,  front-office or delivery function also needs to focus on enhancing the happiness and satisfaction level of its own employees to get the best results. Companies can no longer undermine the fact that the success of their business depends on an ongoing stream of happy customers, which in turn is determined by the happiness level of the employees.

How Employee Happiness Influences Customer Experience

A customer-centric approach does not just focus on efficient communication with customers through a call center or front office but is more about ensuring better brand experience and establishing long term relationships with them. In a customer service environment, the employees handle the responsibility of fostering such experiences and relationships. By empowering the employees and enhancing their engagement and satisfaction levels, companies can ensure a significant improvement in these experiences and relationships. It has been observed that happy employees tend to be self-motivated and work towards delivering better customer experiences. Their commitment and sense of loyalty towards the organizations is significantly enhanced and this is reflected through an increase in their efficiency.

Using Rewards and Recognition to reinforce Customer-Centricity

Just being aware of the critical role played by employees in delivering great customer experience is not enough for a business organization. Rather they need to take the necessary steps to reinforce customer-centric behavior by creating a customer-focused culture. The most important step to be taken in this direction is to integrate employee rewards into the company culture. At the same time, they need to avoid the common pitfalls that can render the reward and recognition program simply useless. In order to ensure the same, the business organization needs to ensure the following.

Focus on the Employee Behaviors that provide Desired Impact

While deciding about the most appropriate rewards and recognition options for employees, business organizations need to focus on identifying and promoting employee behaviors that ensure an enhanced customer experience. For this, they need to first determine the things that really matter to the customers through a thorough analysis of customer data, their preferences, and reviews. The information thus obtained can be then co-ordinated with the various behavioral attributes of employees to learn about the ones that provide the desired results. Having identified the most effective behavior that drives customer satisfaction, the organization should take the necessary steps towards employee motivation to promote this behavior.

Integrate Reward Systems with Customer Experience

Proper alignment of the reward system with employee incentives with respect to the customer experience they create, is essential to create a customer-centric culture. This might require slight modification in the criteria used for deciding formal rewards such as salaries, bonuses, and promotions. The awareness of the fact that being customer-centric can prove beneficial not only in terms of gaining recognition and appreciation but also for ensuring career growth can act as a great motivator. In addition, it also helps in maintaining the credibility of the reward system by ensuring that only the most deserving employees receive them.

Set up Informal Rewards to Encourage Customer Focus

Employee recognition holds greater value than monetary benefits for a large percentage of professionals working in a customer service environment.  Thus by setting up informal rewards, that can remind the employees of their achievements and glory – it tend to prove more effective than just cash rewards. The simple act of posting an image of the top-performing employees for a specific period in the workplace where it is easily visible to other employees and customers can boost the morale and efficiency of the employees quite significantly. In turn, it can create a sense of pride amongst the customers who might have interacted with these employees and strengthen their bond with the company.

Focus on ensuring Better Work-Life Balance

At the end of the day, all employees are individuals with a life outside their profession, which they cannot ignore. No amount of rewards and recognition can replace the happiness that employees gain by spending time with their family and friends. Thus by providing opportunities for a better work-life balance for their employees, companies can enhance their happiness quotient. Happy employees tend to be more attentive and sympathetic towards their customer needs and are more likely to make every effort to ensure their satisfaction and happiness.

A customer service environment can prove to be extremely stressful and exhausting for employees as it requires them to deal with people of diverse natures, opinions and patience levels. The challenge of keeping the employees working in such environments motivated and engaged can only be overcome with an effective reward and recognition program.

Low Budget Employee Recognition and Reward Ideas to Enhance Employee Motivation

Low Budget Employee Recognition and Reward Ideas to Enhance Employee Motivation

Seeking recognition and appreciation for their work is basic human nature and nowhere is this behavioral trait more evident than in professional work environments. In fact, employee recognition and rewards have emerged as the key aspects for creating a highly engaged workforce committed towards business growth. The process is aimed at acknowledging the efforts, hard work and workplace behavior of employees that contribute towards the success of an organization and fulfillment of its objectives.

However, most small and medium business organizations and even larger enterprises tend to feel concerned about the costs involved in implementing a proper employee recognition and rewards program. What such organizations fail to understand is that it is the intent of recognizing and rewarding the employees that matters the most, rather than the money they spend for the same. Business organizations can plan for a recognition system that suits the needs of their employees as well as their budget more efficiently.

Planning a Suitable Rewards and Recognition Program

The most important thing that business organizations need to understand is that the rewards being handed out to employees neither need to be expensive nor in the form of cash. In fact, most employees feel satisfied by the fact that their seniors are aware of their efforts and willing to acknowledge the same. However, employers need to make sure that any non-cash rewards that are chosen should keep the interests of the employees in mind. It has been observed that such rewards are more effective in enhancing employee motivation rather than cash rewards. Discussed below are a few low budget employee recognition and reward ideas that can help enhance employee motivation and engagement levels considerably.

Public Recognition

Acknowledging and appreciating the efforts and hard work of the deserving employees publicly is the most common and cost-effective method. Such public recognition can be made in front of the team members of the selected employee or the entire workforce at an organization level event. In either case, the employees tend to feel a sense of pride and achievement, which motivates them to further improve their performance. Such recognition should ideally include a certificate of merit and a small medallion or trophy which can serve as a constant reminder for the employee.

Workplace Benefits

Another cost-effective way of rewarding the employees is to offer them some desirable benefits at the workplace for a specific time period. The benefits can be extended permanently, in case of repeat achievers, which will also prove inspiring for other employees. These benefits may include flexible work timings, free pickup, and drop facilities for a specific time, upgraded workstation or even paid training for skill enhancement. Such rewards tend to enhance the motivation level of the entire team as the members are able to see the benefits gained by one of their own thanks to their diligent and sincere efforts.

Paid Outing with Family

A majority of employees today struggle hard to create a perfect balance between their work and family life. In addition, the cost of enjoying an outing with a family is often very high, which is why an average employee tends to do it less frequently. Hence, being rewarded with an opportunity to spend quality time with their family without having to worry about the expenses for the same, is something that most employees will find appealing. The venue and type of outing can be decided on the basis of the level of the employee receiving the reward.

Time Off from Work

The highly competitive work environments today often make it impossible for employees to take time off from work. This can lead to their physical and mental exhaustion and can even cause a reduction in their efficiency. One way to avoid this problem and integrating it with employee recognition is to give the employees time off from work. The employees can choose between coming to the office and doing nothing or staying at home to indulge in an activity that helps them to unwind and relax. A couple of days off from work will ensure that the employees feel truly acknowledged for their efforts. It also helps them feel wanted and cared for by their employers and thus helps them develop a stronger bond with the organization.

Formal Meal with Top Management

The idea of enjoying a formal dinner with members of the top management is also a great way of acknowledging and rewarding the employees in a budget-friendly manner. Most junior level employees are in awe of these top-level professionals and sharing a meal with them as a reward for their efforts and hard work often proves to be quite motivating. Moreover, this method of recognition and appreciation also provides the top management to interact with the high performing employees and assess their suitability for enhanced positions within the organization in the future.

All the above options (and many others we can think of) make it possible for business organizations to maintain a relatively low rewards budget without losing out on the benefits of employee recognition and appreciation.

HiFives Team

How important is continuous communication towards the success of an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program?

 Employee rewards and recognition programs are typically launched with a great deal of fanfare within the organisation. There is usually a prelaunch communication, a launch communication and post-launch follow-up communication by the HR and the leadership team. The communication generally harps on the importance of creating a culture of appreciation and recognition within the organization. It attempts to build up excitement among the employees most often by linking it to monetary benefits.

However, as one might expect the enthusiasm dies down over time and the communication becomes a trickle. It is business as usual for everyone as they go about doing their regular work. Line managers don’t feel motivated to recognize employees as much, as employee themselves lose interest and there is hardly any push from the HR and the leadership. This is the usual story of a typical employee rewards and recognition program that had been launched with a great deal of enthusiasm.

All said and done, it is challenging to make any employee facing initiative a part of the organization culture like a habit for all employees. We, at HiFives, feel that constant communication is the key to the success of employee rewards and recognition program. Being an HR-driven initiative the primary responsibility lies with the HR and the leadership team. The communication should focus on ingraining recognition as a key organizational value among employees. There are several ways to achieve that:

  1. Visual communication: LED displays, posters, standees, tent cards, etc. highlighting the employee rewards and recognition program across the offices – workspaces, lobby, pantry, canteen, etc.
  2. Email communication: Regular newsletters – weekly or monthly; announcing the winners of the previous period and any updates on the program.
  3. Verbal communication: By Leaders, HR and Manager at all forums such as regular team meetings, town halls, etc.

Whatever the modus operandi, the key element is the continuity of the communication to keep emphasising the importance of the culture of appreciation and recognition. The communication should be top-down well as bottom-up to get feedback and insights on how the program is working on the ground.

HiFives Team

 

 

 

Why does an employee rewards and recognition program fail?

Employee rewards and recognition programs in organizations are generally launched with a great deal of fanfare with top level executive involvement. These programs are envisioned to transform the organization culture and are supposed to do wonders for employee motivation. The key metrics of the program find their place in executive dashboards and reviews for the first few months.

However, not all employee rewards and recognition programs are able to sustain the same momentum after launch and over a period of time the tempo fizzles out. There are many reasons as to why it might happen; in this article we take a look at a few possible reasons:

  1. Lack of executive sponsorship

Leadership involvement reduces over time and employee rewards and recognition ends up as one of the many HR initiatives. Leaders tend to shift focus on to other strategic and tactical imperatives and lose interest in the program as it becomes largely operational. Organizations  that have strong operations and people focus tend to fare better than others as employee rewards and recognition related key metrics remain an integral part of all internal reviews.

  1. Lack of line manager involvement

Line managers hold the key to a successful implementation of employee rewards and recognition program. However, if they are not involved during the design and planning of the program, they are likely to perceive this as yet another management initiative. This cynicism percolates to their team members and eventually to entire organization. The objective of an employee rewards and recognition program is to create a culture of appreciation and recognition, and managers are the key components of this. Hence, managers should be involved in the program at the planning and rollout stage and the success of the program should be incorporated in their KRAs.

  1. Lack of ground level interest

Employees might lose interest in the program over time due to the lack of interest from the leadership and diminishing importance or visibility of the program.  Or it could be due to disconnect with the program objectives or the messed-up implementation from the very inception. If the program was conceived a management or HR initiative without taking proper inputs form the employees or the line managers, then it is likely that the entire program might fall flat on its face like many other such initiatives once the initial enthusiasm wears off. Hence, an employee rewards and recognition program should be planned only after a dipstick with the employees.

  1. Process is too cumbersome

Implementation challenges might also derail the success of an employee rewards and recognition program. For example, making the process very cumbersome with too many criteria and variables might make it difficult for managers to reward and recognize the employees. An operations heavy process will deter them from going ahead and participating in the program. This holds true for employees as well. If the process of getting rewarded and recognized is too cumbersome, employees might not want to be a part of it. Hence, it is critical that the process is kept simple and intuitive; digitizing and automating it might be the icing on the cake.

  1. Program is frozen in time  

Employee rewards and recognition program designed once upon a time might lose its relevance over time unless the program evolves with the changing requirements of the organization and the workforce. Organization priorities might change over time as it grows and as the business environment changes. For example, achievements related to revenue generation might hold maximum importance when the organization is in growth phase. Over time as the growth slows down and organization matures, there might be increased focus on cost saving initiatives. Also, the changing profile of the workforce might impact the expectations from the employee rewards and recognition program. Younger and more tech savvy employees or increasing percentage of women employees entering the workforce would definitely place different demands from the program. Increasingly, peer recognition and self-nomination are becoming mainstream in most employee rewards and recognition programs. It is no longer the exclusivity of managers to recognize employees but be a part of a broader organization culture of appreciation. The leadership and HR should act as catalysts for the program giving it the required importance and visibility in all possible forums. They should invest in tools that digitize, automate and streamline employee rewards and recognition programs and ensure that there are no operational hurdles in the smooth running of the program.

 These are just a few of the top reasons why an employee rewards and recognition in an organization might fail. Leaders and HR must avoid these pitfalls to keep the programs alive and kicking, to keep employees motivate and productive at the workplace. And honestly, this is hardly rocket science. What an employee rewards and recognition program really needs is continuous support from the leadership and effort from the HR to keep the program alive and in tune with the needs of the employees at every level. The phrase “Change is the only constant” applies to employee rewards and recognition programs as well as they need to evolve and adapt to the changing organizational priorities, work practices and employee preferences.

by HiFives

What’s the best form of employee rewards?

Employee rewards in modern day organizations has been evolving over the years – it has become more of an art than a science. Gone are those days where employees were happy receiving trophies and consumer durables.

Organizations have tried everything from trophies, company branded merchandize, durables, electronics, holiday packages, gift vouchers and even cash.  Many organizations have used training programs and conferences to motivate their high performing employees. A few of these methods have worked, most of them haven’t. What does it mean for organizations? Should they stop experimenting and continue with what they are doing? What is the best method of rewarding employees?

As you might have guessed by now, that there is no single right answer to this question! The answer is ‘it depends’. It depends on a whole host of factors ranging from the industry type to employee seniority level right down to individual employee preferences. Given the complexity of the situation, organizations are faced with the daunting task of choosing the type of reward to give their employees.

However, a couple of options seem to make sense more than others. Rather than deciding on what the employees would want, it would seem better to leave the choice to the employees themselves. Given this, cash, digital currency or popular gift vouchers would make the cut. Employees could use these rewards to purchase that they would want to rather than being locked down to the choices of the HR/ management team. These work out far better than the traditional company branded merchandize or consumer durables.

How do intangible rewards work out? It’s definitely a good idea given the overuse of the other kinds of rewards. Coffee with the CEO, Dinner with the Director, Conferences and Training programs are few of the ideas that be utilized by organizations that do not prefer monetary rewards.  In fact, we believe these types of rewards could actually get into mainstream going forward. Coupled the social recognition from colleagues, employees would find these rewards more meaningful than others.

HiFives Employee Rewards and Recognition

R&R on Social Media – the great debate!

Many organizations are still trying to figure out how to incorporate social media in their HR policies. One such aspect is posting or allowing employees to post the awards they have received from the organization on their social media pages.

social media

For employees who spend hours on social media every day – posting, liking, commenting, sharing and chatting with their friend, this is a big deal! Employees would love to flaunt their awards on social media and soak up all the adulation (likes and comments) they might receive from their friends. The satisfaction garnered from this social recognition might be far greater than that from the actual monetary value of the award itself! Plus think of all the employer branding and referrals that this might generate!

What’s the flip side? For starts, it might expose confidential information to the world – names of clients, important project, etc. With hundreds of friends on social media and thousands of friends of friends, one cannot be sure that this information will not fall into wrong hands – competitors, clients, regulatory authorities and head hunters, just to name a few. Of course, the employee himself or herself will be seen as someone with high potential and may be approached by a competitor!

Well, the debate continues…

-by HiFives