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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

"What types of rewards or programs seem to do the best job of motivating people to excel in customer service?"

Alice C.

Answer from our Guest Expert Donna Hall of The Right Answer, Customer Service Consultants

Dear Alice,

Good question!

I'd definitely recommend a reward program for any business wanting to inspire its service staff. All reward programs are good motivators because it's the chase for the creamy prize that gets their energy (and sugar) levels up. Of course, customer service reps are a mixed bag of individuals who have one thing in common -- helping and assisting others for a living. But in my CSR days, I enjoyed a friendly healthy game of competition -- which proved to be both fun and rewarding for most everyone.

Just like a beaming chef-to-be getting the thumbs-up sign from Julia Childs, CSRs enjoy having the spotlight shine on them. Have you ever seen an honored employee photo where that person wasn't smiling from ear to ear? I know I haven't. In fact, I always say, "Look how proud and happy she looks." To help drive your CSRs towards service excellence, try these helpful motivators.

Employee of the Day, Week, or Month -- With a tribute like that, I guarantee you'll see each customer receiving four-star service treatment right and left from any award recipient, as well as others who want to win the prize in the near future. No one's gonna get the chance to say that this special title wasn't well- earned. Think of fun prizes to accompany the certificate, such as some cold, hard cash or a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant.

Fastest Phone in the West -- How about a reward for getting those phones answered a bit faster? We all know response times are important, so why not heap some praise for the rep who's tops when it comes to picking up those ringing phones. For a peppy service maestro like this, why not offer the closest and coolest parking spot on the lot? I know I'd slave over a hot, sizzling stove any day for the number one parking spot!

"Have Lunch with the Director" -- Get a few of the head honchos to chow down with the top customer service winner of the month or week. I was lucky enough to be selected twice for this type of reward when I was a CSR, and I loved it. These occasions can be used to discuss and exchange ideas and opinions on how effective current procedures and processes are working. Plus, management can meet and greet with employees and reap the benefits of learning firsthand what customers are needing, requesting, and buying.

Employee Discounts -- If your company is already giving a discount to your service staff, kick that up a notch for those who excel in their trade. For the rep who goes that extra mile to satisfy the customer, add a little something to that discount. Another 5 or 10 percent could give your service pro the incentive to go on a bit of a shopping splurge. Both your rep and revenue will feel the difference!

Service is a serious subject, but you can always sweeten the pot with some fun and excitement, and a little friendly competition. These types of reward programs can get your service pros enthusiastic about servicing your customers. When you praise them, they respond in kind. Reward them for their efforts, keep your service department clicking, and your customers (and employees) will thank you for it.

Donna J. Hall

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