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Six Steps to Pumping Up Your Customer Service Team

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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.

Now, let’s talk about ways to keep you and your team engaged and rewarded, in spite of Edith and Roosevelt – because, 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’re setting customer service goals as a basis for rewards and incentives, make sure that the achievement tiers are attainable. Leave some low-lying fruit for new reps and those who are struggling to learn the ropes, but also make sure you put some loftier goals in there for your star achievers.  In fact, make sure you include some downright challenging goals in there so that when one of those is reached, it is a truly impressive accomplishment.  Once a goal is reached – then you raise the bar, because your team has proven they are capable.

  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 that you start making awards a scheduled or routine or mundane occurrence, or start handing them out equally, they lose all meaning and become useless. It may temporarily make some average or low-performers feel good, but in the long run even those people stop appreciating the rewards, and it always frustrates and alienates your star performers.

  1. Recognize a Variety of Accomplishments

Just because you don’t make it a regular “thing” to recognize people doesn’t mean you can’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 almost any customer service team.

  1. Establish a Supportive Team Culture

More than any other department, customer service is about “us,” not “I” or “you,” or “them.” Make sure your team members are as collaborative and congratulatory when someone else is 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 to help reinforce the team’s and organization’s mission, vision and values. For example, let’s say you hold a contest where team members must provide FAQ entries and 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. Make sure that you select rewards that appeal to each person. Don’t shine the spotlight on shy introverts. Don’t give PTO 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 your team, are ready to tackle anything – even that call holding on line six. I believe she said her name was Edith, and someone was shouting in the background about snakes on some kind of plane…


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Courses in Customer Service, Excel, HR, Leadership, OSHA and more. No credit card. No commitment. Individuals and teams.