Call center agents and front-line sales staff are the face of your business and often the first and only touch point for customers and clients. Ensuring that agents are not just well trained but motivated too, is critical to delivering a customer experience that’s positive and keeps your clients and their clients coming back for more.
Done right, an effective incentive scheme doesn’t just improve customer experience and build your business, but also helps with employee retention. So how do you ensure your incentives schemes keep you and your business ahead of the pack?
Instant Rewards – Announced and Given On-the-Spot
Many of your agents are likely to be young Millennials, and this is a generation that appreciates a reward that comes quickly. Spot awards or instant rewards are a very effective way to keep teams motivated. As agents watch their peers earn rewards, they’re driven to push themselves further too. Keep in mind though, that instant rewards need to not only be announced, but given immediately also. If you’re giving vouchers, keep them handy to give out before the start of the week. Moreover, replenish them as you hand them out.
Balance This with a Long-Term Incentive Scheme
While spot award and instant rewards are great for recognizing a sudden spike or big win, there is also the need to temper this with more lucrative incentives for someone who delivers in the long run. While a business does need agents who push themselves and outdo expectations from time to time, what keeps the organization and customer interactions going smoothly are employees who deliver consistently. Recognize this with an incentive scheme that tracks historical performance, where an agent is rewarded based on their track record against KPIs.
Flexible Reward Incentive Schemes
Another tactic used by companies that run successful incentive programs for agents, is to keep the incentive itself flexible. While the targets or goals to be achieved for earning the incentive will remain constant, the nature of the reward earned is flexible.
For instance, one employee might prefer earning a gym membership for a quarter, while another may want vouchers from a department store, a third may like an online voucher to redeem, while others may prefer a monetary incentive. This helps to improve the value of the incentive to each agent, because they can self-select something that appeals to them most.
Points Based Incentive Schemes
Another strategy that blends short-term wins with long-term goals is a point based incentive scheme like the kind the airlines or credit card companies use with their frequent fliers and loyalty program members. Every time an agent achieves a certain goal or scores above the threshold on a metric, they earn a predetermined number of points.
These points accumulate over time against each agent’s name and can then be redeemed to get things like gadgets, accessories for smartphones or tablets, or other fun prizes. This keeps the agent motivated as they work towards earning the number of points they need to win the prize they desire. The moving of the ticker or indicator against their name every time they cross a threshold also gives them the day-to-day motivation to keep going.
Team Incentive Schemes
This form of incentive gets the entire office working together in unison towards a shared goal. The incentive could be a team dinner at a fancy restaurant, a day out at a paint-balling venue, or some other fun activity. Each team member plays a role in getting to the goal, with is summed up to reach the target set for the office as a whole. This motivates agents to work not just on their own targets and customer satisfaction scores, but those of their fellow agents too.
Downtime Day Incentive Scheme
Dubbed as duvet days, or downtime days – this form of incentive targets agents who achieves stellar attendance records. Motivation often begins with just showing up to work. For those agents who have 100% attendance, sometimes an enforced day off can be just the thing. Reward perfect attendance with no sick days taken, with a downtime or duvet day. It is a day that they’re allowed to take off, in addition to the personal leave they’re eligible for. The thought of getting this ‘extra’ day off officially, can sometimes be just what everyone needs to show up the rest of the time!
Other Incentives that Work
Among other things, incentives that seem to work include travel or holiday incentives for the big wins or consistent or best performers; small quick-kill gifts like a box of chocolates for spot awards; plus gadgets and gizmos, gym memberships, restaurant vouchers, shopping vouchers, and other gift cards that can be earned through points.
Incentive Schemes – The Last Word
Once you have a shortlist of schemes, you’ll need to ensure that whatever route you choose, you reward your agents quickly, and recognize them in front of their peers. With a focused effort on taking incentive scheme to the next level, you’re sure to see results after a few months, or even weeks, with improved responsiveness to customers, better feedback from clients, and more returning customers driving more business.