Tying Employee Rewards To Customer-Centric Behavior

outsideinAs a customer service guy, I must know everything there is to know about the customer experience right?  Wrong.  Actually I established that a year ago after attending a conference where I heard Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research speak about her book “Outside In.”  It was at that conference that I added the book to my Amazon wish list.  Being the slow reader I am, it took me a bit to get to it but I’m proud to say I just finished reading it!

In Outside In, Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning have laid out a wonderful, comprehensive guide for companies that want to begin listening to their customers and building a culture that focuses on the customer experience.  In the book, they characterize this present day as the “age of the customer” and talk about the fact that “for decades, companies have been paying lip service to the idea of delighting customers while simultaneously disappointing them.”  In an age of social media, customers have more power than ever and companies can no longer get away with offering poor customer experiences.

Without going into great detail about the book, I found a couple comments to be particularly relevant to our theme this week of rewarding our customer service teams.  Employee rewards should be built into the culture of the company.  Here are a few ideas from the book as we consider building a reward program and a customer-centric culture at the same time.

Public Praise and the Power of Stories

One example Bodine and Manning give is from Zappos, which has a “Wow Library” where exceptional call recordings are stored.  Zappos employees listen to these recordings to gain inspiration.  The public praise for wowing a customer serves as a fantastic reward.  In addition, this builds a library of stories that give clear examples to employees of the type of customer interaction that is expected.

Reward For Customer-Centric Behavior

Manning and Bodine caution against simply rewarding employees for getting a lot of work done.  Instead they emphasize the need for “informal rewards that recognize personal achievement and formal rewards that compensate employees based on customer-centric metrics.”  The key is reenforcing behaviors that enhance the customer experience.  Make your rewards count!

Informal and Formal Rewards

With informal rewards, employees are encouraged to recognize each other when they “create amazing customer experiences.”  This can be something like a free flowing peer recognition program and does not have to cost a lot of money.  Formal rewards on the other hand may entail a structure for bonuses and raises tied to customer-centric behavior.  One idea they present is to tie these to individual net promoter score ratings for customer service employees.

I am reminded of the fact that to have an awesome customer experience it takes an entire company, not just a customer service team.  Read “Outside In” and begin developing your game plan for improving your customer experience.  Finally, when you build a reward program into your company culture, be sure the rewards are always reenforcing customer-centric behavior and driving your company toward an improved customer experience.

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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