Customer service employees have a high stress job and it is an area that is known to have the highest attrition. Incessant ringing of phones, queued up calls and queries, screaming customers and the likes is part of the daily routine of a call center employee. It is no wonder then that just providing them with a salary is not enough and companies are actively looking at putting together workable and cost effective incentive schemes for call center employees. It is not seen just as a motivational method but also as a retention tool and helps boost employee morale, in conjunction with other factors. Having incentive schemes in addition to reward and recognition programs, regular and timely feedback, training opportunities and a good working environment together make a conducive work environment.
– Incentive schemes cover the financial part – cash rewards and other kinds of rewards that go beyond just cash.
– Recognizing the effort of a staff member or a team immediately provides an impetus to their efforts and goads them to do better. They feel special and valued and others try to emulate them to also receive such praise
– To avoid surprises at the end of a performance year, staff must receive regular feedback especially if they need to improve in certain areas. It gives them time to work better and receive proper increments at the end of the year, which would not happen if they did not know how their performance was being viewed.
– Training opportunities for soft skills and improvement in some core skills also convinces employees that the company is taking an active interest in their personal and professional development
– A cohesive team led by a supportive and knowledgeable manager along with general office amenities also contributes to staff morale.
Let’s look at Incentive schemes for call centre employees. They must not be given just for the sake of giving them. While all the other points mentioned are necessary for all employees, the treatment of incentive schemes needs to be different. They must be given when the staff consistently exhibits the right behavior and skills and is able to elicit praise from the customer and raise the standards of customer service. Incentive schemes should be withdrawn or withheld if there is no deserving candidate. Achieving targets, matching up to the key performance indicators and being an asset to the team at large would define an ideal candidate for incentive schemes. Companies can decide on slabs specifying the amount of cash or other incentives to be provided based on how impactful and or consistent the performance of a staff member has been.
Incentive schemes for call centre employees must be innovative and go beyond just providing cash especially when the effort is there but not large enough to justify a substantial cash award. For example an insurance company could offer commission payouts to their staff, around the time of end of financial year where people are trying to buy products that would help them save tax and amount to savings for themselves. However, having such a scheme all through the year will not suffice and alternative must be thought off especially during times when buying patterns are low. Allow your agents to accumulate points that could be exchanged for coupons allowing them to buy things of their choice or give out gifts that would be appropriate for the staff employed. A dinner for two at a posh restaurant or a one month entitlement to some benefits of a club, free shopping for household goods up to certain amount and the likes are popular incentives.
The other way to add a punch to the incentive schemes is to recognize the efforts of the teams or staff members. There are some companies that distribute blank Thank you cards that must be used to express gratitude to anyone in the team or in the company. The staff receiving such cards can proudly display them on their work spaces and feels special at being recognized for an effort no matter how small. The person with the maximum number of such cards wins a gift from the company and their name put up on the general notice board of the office. It feels great to have your name and picture up on the board! Another kind of incentive scheme is about getting the staff to dress up in a certain theme – like a festival. The best dressed male and female staff members receive a gift and their pictures go up on the ‘wall of fame.’
With increased competition and increasing prices, companies are often cash-strapped. They would need to be creative in order to provide a work environment that is conducive and recognition and incentive schemes for their staff to not only remain with them but also be enthused enough to provide great customer service. A quick look at what companies can distribute as encouragement and as part of incentive schemes:
– Chocolates are an all-time favorite and are welcomed. Call centers are usually labor intensive employing large numbers of employees. Chocolates are an efficient and cost effective way to reward weekly staff that has performed well.
– The staff at call centers is usually young and providing movie tickets or coupons that can be exchanged for tickets to a movie of their choice, is a real motivator. The cost is not much and yet the value is significant. If the whole team has performed well, then maybe booking tickets for a Friday night movie for the whole team is a great way to encourage team building. The team interacts with each other outside of office in an informal and friendly setting. This really works!
– Gift hampers with an assortment of items is a great incentive for someone who has consistently performed over a period of time. Some branded items – either food or personal care make great gift hampers.
– For the stressed and over-extended call center staff, an extra day off in addition to the weekly off is a blessing. It’s simple but an extremely effective way of showing appreciation for the staff member. Others will want it too and will work better and smarter in order to receive this additional paid day off.
– Gift coupons with certain monetary values are great as part of incentive schemes. These coupons can be used for a wide variety of shopping options both in-stores and online. Staff can purchase household goods, electronics, appliances and such with these coupons depending on what the company has decided to give away.
– Sending flowers and or a small gift to a staff member’s home on special occasions like a birthday of the member, the spouse and children if any. Celebrating these occasions in office with a cake and a team get-together also makes the staff member feel appreciated and is a highly effective and inexpensive incentive scheme.
– Giving out stationery with the company’s logo and or the name of the employee inscribed on it, makes the recipient feel rather special. A friend received a pen and a diary with her name on it. Despite 12 long years having gone by, both the items are still in their original wrapping and are cherished by her even though she is not with the company any more. This is one of the more stylish incentive schemes and makes the recipient feel very special and exclusive.
Incentive schemes are an effective and rewarding way for employees to reach their work related goals and achieve significant breakthroughs in their jobs. Such schemes raise motivation levels of the employees thereby increasing the performance of the teams as a whole leading to better customer service and making the company successful in the long haul. Employees feel valued and recognized and are encouraged to give their best since they too will be able to perceive the effects of good performance for their own success. Incentive schemes are mutually advantageous for the company and the employees. The company gains motivated and enthused employees who serve the customers with the highest levels of service and the employees grow professionally and become successful as the company grows and meets financial success.
The end result of incentive schemes is that employees feel appreciated for their hard work and will stay on with a company that cares for them and helps them grow. Happy employees will equal happy customers and the cycle moves on…..