Six Steps to Pumping Up Your Customer Service Team

Customers. Depending on the kind of day you’re having, that word can either bring a smile to your face and a song to your lips or send you scuttling under your desk to whimper and rock back and forth muttering incoherently about someone named “Angry Edith” and her profane cockatoo, Roosevelt, who shrieks Samuel L. Jackson movie quotes in the background of Every. Single. Call.  The thing is, regardless of how you feel about customers just this second, deep down you know that you need to take care of them. So come out from under your desk.  Come on. You can do it. Theeeeeere you go.

Let’s talk about ways to keep you and your team engaged and rewarded.  Let’s be honest: 99.9% of our customers are fantastic people who deserve the very best we have to offer, every day of the week.

  1. Set Achievable Goals

As you set customer service goals as a basis for rewards and incentives, create attainable  achievement tiers. Build in a few easily attainable, but important goals for new reps and those struggling to learn the ropes.  Also include some loftier goals for your star achievers.  Don’t forget to set a few more challenging, stretch goals

  1. Be Selective

Nothing is a bigger motivation killer than everyone being a winner. To quote The Incredibles, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”  The minute awards become scheduled, routine, mundane or you start handing them out equally, the awards lose all meaning and become useless. If everyone always wins, then everyone stops appreciating the rewards.

  1. Recognize a Variety of Accomplishments

Just because you don’t make it a regular “thing” to recognize people doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recognize a variety of accomplishments to put awards and rewards in everyone’s reach.  For example, a “Strength through Adversity” type of award is a great idea for many customer service departments.  Create a traveling representation that recognizes someone who handles a particularly tough call or situation with grace – a steadfast tin soldier, a wobbling-but-not-falling-down Weeble and a you-shall-not-pass Gandalf figure are all good representations, or find one that fits well with your team.

  1. Establish a Supportive Team Culture

More than any other department, customer service is about “us,” not “I,” “you” or “them.” Encourage team members to be collaborative and congratulatory when others are recognized. You can accomplish this by making sure every victory is a team victory as well as a personal one.

  1. Align Rewards and Goals

When possible, match up the incentives with the goals you create for your team.  This reinforces the team’s and organization’s mission, vision and values. For example, let’s say you hold a contest where team members provide FAQ entries and the team members vote for winners. If the prize is a gift certificate for dinner at a well-known local restaurant, see if you can include an opportunity to meet with the restaurant’s marketing or customer service team to find out how they handle customer communications and service issues.

  1. Remember that Team Members are Individuals

Rewards are NOT one-size-fits-all.  Select rewards that appeal to each person. Don’t shine the spotlight on shy introverts. Don’t give additional time off to people already sitting on weeks of time off.  Don’t give a month of front row VIP parking to someone who already pays for a primo space in the garage. DO talk to your employees, get to know what their currency is, and reward them in ways that are meaningful to them.

And there you have it. In just six easy steps you’ve engaged, empowered and energized your customer service team. You, and they, are ready to tackle anything – even that call holding on line six. I believe she said her name was Edith…

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