Rewarding Customer Service: Creative Gifts

Everyone likes to feel noticed and appreciated — and for staff working on the front lines with customers, a small reward or gift for the work they do can be particularly meaningful.  I once worked with an employee-centered customer service manager who has a great set of small symbolic gifts and rewards — each embossed with the organization’s logo, and often accompanied by a small cash award.

Here are some items from her list to help spark your own creative ideas:

  • A coffee mug or reusable water bottle for team members who help a customer “see the glass half full again” — This is given when a team member has clearly helped convert an angry or upset customer into one that is positively prepared to take the next step in problem solving.
  • A piggy bank or clock for team members who identify significant cost saving or time saving process improvement steps that the organization implements.
  • An umbrella for team members who clearly took action to resolve a customer’s problem before it turned into a storm and caused a flood of problems downstream.
  • A nice portfolio notebook for team members who captured an event or problem and communicated effectively to others — e.g., someone who captured a best practice for others to benefit from, someone who wrote a post for a knowledge library based on a new or frequently encountered problem or question.
  • Snack Pack (healthy snacks or candy) for team members who consistently maintain a high level of energy through an event or problem, or for those who boost the energy of others with their actions or words.

In addition to these purchased items, managers can send important signals of appreciation with the following:

  • A personal thank you note — many articles stress the importance of hand-written thank you notes, and yet, in our experience, rarely do managers sit down and do it. Our advice: add it to your To-Do list. One note a week takes 10 minutes. Make it a new habit.
  • A certificate signed by a senior leader — most employees respond positively to professional markers of achievement, like certificates to display in an office or to keep for the future. Setting up criteria for giving certificates can be easy and yield significant positive reactions.
  • Your time — take a valued employee to coffee or lunch, just to say thank you and to chat about how they are doing. In today’s busy world, time spent with others can often be the greatest gift of all.

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