15 ideas for rewarding employees for great customer service

24 Jun 2022

Did you know that 84% of employees feel more loyalty to a company that rewards them? In an age where 60% of workers are planning to find a new job in 2022, rewarding employees for going the extra mile with great customer service is an impressively effective retention tool.

However, that’s not the only benefit. In this guide, we’ll uncover the numerous advantages of incentivising employees with rewards and uncover no less than 15 best practice tips for ensuring your rewards programme – and choice of rewards – motivates employees and sets your company apart from competitors.

The benefits of rewarding employees for great customer service

Our employee happiness study uncovered that almost four in ten employers don’t provide any reward or recognition programmes. Of the ones that do, just 42% of employees were satisfied with the scheme on offer.

Yet there is a lot of evidence to suggest that rewarding employees for behaviours such as great customer service will lead to a happier workforce.

80% of employees agree that incentive programmes have a positive impact on overall job satisfaction and performance. Employee rewards also lead to more motivation to be productive and a greater sense of value in the business.

Further to our own studies, Gallup discovered that there is a link between employee engagement (which is boosted by employee rewards) and improvements across all elements of the business such as higher profitability, productivity and quality, lower turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents.

Plus, it’s not just current staff members that recognise the attraction of employee rewards. They’re also a key differentiator when it comes to attracting new talent. This is particularly true for the 21-34 and 35-49 demographics who regard employee rewards as a necessary part of their employee compensation.

The allure of employee rewards is due to the positive emotions they evoke. As University of North Carolina psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson said, “When people are made to feel cared for, nurtured and growing, that will serve the organisation well. Because those feelings drive commitment and loyalty just like they would in any relationship.”

How to reward employees for great customer service

If you’re looking to motivate your employees with an attractive rewards programme that boosts employee morale, employee retention, and company culture, and gives your business a direct competitive advantage, consider the following employee reward best practice advice.

1 Give them choice

When it comes to employee rewards for great customer service – or any reason for recognition – people want choice. In fact, having a choice is more important to people than any specific employee reward, and having the flexibility of how, when, and where a reward is essential.

The issue with a one size fits all approach is that you can’t please everyone all of the time – especially when your workforce is made up of a variety of demographics. Providing rewards such as gift cards, eGifts, and multi-brand cards that give your employees options gives them the freedom to select a reward that best suits their personal tastes.

2 Reward them regularly

If rewards are only available sporadically, employees may lose the motivation to exhibit the behaviour required to earn the incentive. That’s why it is best to offer employees small rewards more frequently. Not only does this provide an ongoing reminder that there is an incentive for peak performance but it can also help keep employees more engaged.

Rewarding employees who go the extra mile with smaller, more frequent rewards can also help to alleviate negative emotions (such as envy) in the workplace.

3 Offer digital rewards

With smartphones and being online an integral part of everyday life, it is perhaps no surprise that digital rewards – such as eGifts – are an appealing incentive for all age groups.

It is estimated that almost 87% of UK shoppers will shop online in 2022, which makes digital rewards a great option for rewarding employees for great customer service.

They’re easy to redeem, they can be delivered instantly, and they’re flexible enough to allow recipients to choose their own reward. From an employers’ perspective, digital rewards are an attractive choice as they are generally a low-cost alternative to physical gift cards that require printing and distributing.

4 Let employees nominate their peers

While it’s important for a company to reward its employees, don’t overlook the importance of allowing employees to nominate each other for rewards for great customer service.

Our research has shown that 80% of employees find great satisfaction in peer recognition as it helps generate a sense of community in the workplace, boosts team spirit, and increases engagement levels.

5 Offer individual incentives

While group incentives are good motivators, we found that no less than 85% of employees prefer individual incentives. This is because it takes the onus off how others are performing (which is something an individual can do little to control) in favour of personal performance (which puts the individual in the driving seat).

Having individual employee incentives also lets you get a better understanding of everyone’s individual performance, as you will naturally monitor each employee more closely.

6 Add a personal touch

In the same way that employees favour choice in their rewards to reflect that everyone is different, so too do they prefer to receive personalised recognition.

That’s why it is important for a line manager to add a personal touch when presenting an employee reward, such as explaining how their great customer service has directly benefitted the company. This feeling of ‘we couldn’t do it without you’ can increase employee engagement and boost the relationship between the employee and line manager – making it a win-win personal touch.

7 Ask employees what they want

Many businesses have three or more generations in their workforce. This diversity can lead to a diverse range of desired employee rewards.

One of the simplest ways to ensure that you provide employees with the right type of public recognition is to conduct a survey that directly asks for their feedback on your employee rewards programme and what specific rewards they would like to receive.

Knowing what motivates your employees is a powerful business insight.

8 Reward employees consistently

One of our employee surveys highlighted the importance of fairness and equity when rewarding employees.

If rewards are distributed inconsistently or if the desired behaviours for earning recognition (such as great customer service) are not understood by all employees, it can lead to staff members feeling ignored or that favouritism is at play. So, award employees who go the extra mile consistently and make the company objectives you are aiming towards public knowledge.

9 Ensure everyone has the opportunity to earn rewards

Hand in hand with rewarding employees consistently is the need to distribute rewards evenly across the company. This means making rewards an equal opportunity benefit and not something that just one or two departments (or top-tier employees or team leaders) can aim towards.

36% of working adults worked remotely at the beginning of 2022. Our research revealed that rewards and incentives were the number one way that remote workers wanted employers to engage them, so be sure to recognise the entire team, including those working from home in your employee reward programme to ensure that they continue to feel a part of the group.

10 Offer meaningful rewards

There’s a phenomenon called the Hawthorne Effect that recognises that almost any change to the work environment can lead to a small boost in productivity. This is believed to be because it makes employees aware that the business is interested in what they’re doing.

Highly meaningful changes can produce large boosts in productivity, which highlights the potential for meaningful employee rewards to make staff members feel that management cares about their happiness.

11 Consider your employees’ age range

When rewarding employees for great customer service, be sure to consider the age range of your staff members. For example, Millennials (21 to 34-year-olds) derive strong emotional satisfaction from incentives more than any other demographic. As a result, employee rewards can drive Millenials to increase their engagement levels.

12 Paid time off

Employee rewards for great customer service don’t necessarily need to have a monetary value. If you’re on a budget and want to recognise employees, additional paid time off is a great way for a business to show their appreciation for going above and beyond and working late or on the weekend.

13 Gift cards

While additional paid time off is one of the top two employee motivators, nothing beats monetary incentives (47%) such as gift cards. This is perhaps due to the fact that 76% of employees see gift cards as an excuse to treat themselves.

Cash rewards, by contrast, often end up being spent on everyday essentials such as bills or monthly expenses. Our research found that gift cards are the preferred reward for 84% of remote workers.

14 Reward employees instantly

Our research found that the ideal reward should be delivered in less than a week. That’s why digital rewards are ever-popular as they can be presented by email almost instantly once an employee has earned them.

Another benefit of rewarding employees instantly is that it acts as a positive reinforcement of the behaviour that led to the reward being given, such as great customer service.

15 Offer memorable rewards

A memorable employee reward (such as our Envy packages of over 5,000 real-life experiences) increases the likelihood that the staff member will associate the work behaviour with the positive experience and emotions evoked by the reward.

Equally, making the presentation of the employee reward an event – e.g. public recognition in front of colleagues – can also result in the occasion generating good feelings that employees are more likely to remember.

Want to ensure your employee incentives programme is optimised to motivate employees and attract new talent? Get in touch today on 020 4517 5862.

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