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prosperous New Year.
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives (Part 2)
In response to a request by one of our subscribers, we are pleased to
provide the second article in the series on "Rewarding and Incenting
Customer Service Representatives." In this edition, we discuss a second
prerequisite for ensuring that your reward and incentive program is truly
Empower the front-line
Is your front-line restricted from providing exceptional levels of
customer service by rigid procedures and micro-management? Not only can
this be the MOST frustrating thing that a customer service representative
faces, it also has a negative impact on your ability to motivate your
customer service representatives. They really WANT to do the right thing,
but don't want to get hand-slapped for deviating from procedure. While
procedures and guidelines are absolutely critical to ensure a smoothly
operating customer service function, it is important to remember that your
employees are intelligent human beings with common sense and good
Like any normal customer, I suspect that you have experienced situations
similar to the following:
Example 1: You are
discussing an issue with a customer service representative that would, at
the end of the day, cost the firm less to resolve than the cost of the
call. However, because the customer service person is bound by rigid
procedures, she is required to explain, and explain again, why she cannot
take remedial action because it is not standard operating procedure. For
those of us that are aggressive, what do we do next? We politely ask "may
I speak with your supervisor?" Cha-ching. Did you just hear more cash
leave your coffers?
Example 2: You are at a
retail establishment that sells high-end pens. The customer (me) sees a
very nice pen in the display case that he'd like to purchase. However,
much to his dismay, he learns that the only one left is in the display
case. He asks the customer service person "may I buy the one in the
display case?" You know the response…So, instead, I end up buying a pen
that was half the price.
To achieve an empowered, yet consistent, workforce, you must strike a
balance between rigid procedures and individual judgment. You should
manage your customer service function with well-defined procedures, yet
make it clear that where there are opportunities to "do the right thing
for the customer" within certain guidelines, the customer service
representatives should do so. After the "transaction" has completed, a
discussion can take place, if necessary, to refine the guidelines so that
others can provide a similar response if the situation comes up again.
And, if it was the wrong decision, which invariably will happen from time
to time, then management should diplomatically explain the impact of this
decision to avoid it recurring in the future. However, this should NOT be
done in a reprimanding fashion. The only time that a reprimand is
appropriate is when a customer service representative has demonstrated
repeatedly (3 times, at a minimum) his or her lack of common sense and
By effectively empowering your customer service representatives to do the
"right thing" for the customer, even when it deviates from defined
procedures, you will find that employee satisfaction will go up. This
occurs because the customer service representatives feel trusted by
management to do the right thing for the customer, which is what they
REALLY want to do. As you can imagine, this will also have a positive
impact on customer satisfaction, retention and finally operational
Subsequent newsletter editions will share other elements for effectively
rewarding and incenting customer service personnel that augment the items
REMINDER: If you have interesting ways to reward or incent your customer
service personnel, enter our contest (see information in right panel).
View Previous Articles In
Preserving a Healthy
Customer Base (Part 3)
a multi-part series presenting eight simple rules for preserving a healthy
customer base. Issues already discussed are: Forecasting the Customer
Base; Avoiding the Free Agent Dilemma; Organize for Retention; and
Prioritize the Customer Base. Two more rules are presented in this issue.
Don't be a Stranger
When you're looking to build or retain business, you do not want to hear
your customer say, "The only time I see you is when you want me to buy
something." In practical terms, you can't be in constant contact with
every customer all the time. However, the Customer Service and Sales reps
need to have noticeable and regular contact and need to leverage tools
such as service summaries, transaction follow-ups, etc. that afford
quality contact, but little time investment. For significant accounts,
regular service and account reviews should be the norm. The combination of
proactive, productive attention to the account and quality service
delivery often increases switching costs in the eyes of the customer,
which is increasingly important in today's competitive environment.
Have a Customer Retention Strategy
At the highest level, you need goals and targets for retention %, customer
base revenue, etc. But when it comes to preserving the business, the
strategy needs to translate to lower levels—classes of customers or
individual customers, depending on your business. For key customers, what
issues need addressing and problems need solving to get the renewal done?
For unprofitable customers, what needs to be done to make them profitable
and where/when do we walk away? This strategy or plan is managed by the
team leads and executives who build the right team to keep the customer.
The final article in this series will present the the last two rules for
preserving a healthy customer base. If you want help preserving your
customer base, feel free to
View Previous Articles In
Healthy Customer Base
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives
If you have received this newsletter from a friend
and would like to subscribe:
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View previous newsletters
has its difficult customers. In their Help Desk Institute article
"Good Customer Service: The Starting Point for Handling Difficult
Gary Case and Patrice Rhoades-Baum discuss how meeting your customers'
psychological needs is an important aspect of serving and satisfying <i<all
your customers, especially your difficult ones.
View full article
Thank you to those
who have already submitted ideas for rewarding and incenting customer
service pesonnel. For those of you who have not yet submitted your ideas,
you have until the end of the year to share what has worked well for you.
There are many subscribers who could benefit from your ideas and
Contest details: submit your unique approach to incenting /
rewarding your customer service personnel to
firstname.lastname@example.org. A panel of 3
Customer Centricity consultants will review the submissions, identify the
best idea, and announce the winner in our first newsletter of 2004.
Winners will see their name in electronic print (within our newsletter)
also choose an item of their choice from the
Customer Centricity logo shop.
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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