Source: Most important employment factors when choosing jobs worldwide, Statista
For productivity-boosting, contact center managers offer remote working conditions, flexible shifts, and additional incentives. Yet, that rarely fosters performance, adherence, and motivation. Thus managers screen for the proven ways of reducing absenteeism, lateness, burnout, and turnover.
Budgets of SMB's contact centers are tightening, and their owners pivot to the “alternative ways” to incentivize employees. Fortunately, there are plenty of money-free ways to improve all stats of reps and reduce turnover rates almost to zero. To ensure magnificent results in a small or mid-sized contact center.
All you need is to follow easy-to-grasp tidbits of proven information. Find out the proven types of incentives and how to qualify yourself as a manager for successful incentive implementation.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money”
— Steve Jobs
The corporate policy first
Before the incentives, you should think about the principle your company engages with employees. The surveys prove the fact that your corporate policy is responsible for every successful implementation. All other changes and improvements stem from it.
First things first, the right policy means you hire only highly motivated people with the attitudes for bringing their dreams to fruition. It’s much easier to incentivize the right people than to try to motivate the deadwood.
There are a few easy-to-complete ways to establish the right policy for successful incentives of any kind:
- Treat your employees as a professional. Some companies rarely consider professional skills first and treat employees based on personal imagination. In this case, true professionals feel less appreciated and incapable of fully deploying the talent.
- Be fair and open. These days, managers are too disconnected from their colleagues. They’ve locked themselves in the offices while demanding irresistible performance from others. In the remote working environment, they’re also burdening reps with the obstacles of quick communication. And that brings a bunch of complexity in the work of the frontline reps.
Here’s the real situation: reps want to regularly negotiate with the manager about their day-by-day assignments, achieve advice and support in challenging situations. And they can’t because there are a number of time-consuming obstacles on their path. During the pandemic, the necessity for tight communication with supervisors and managers jumped by the order of magnitude.
As a result, disconnection between managers and employees brings negative consequences that damage overall morale and productivity.
- Be an experienced manager to provide incentives. The surveys showed that managers without decent experience in implementing incentives damage the work of reps. For instance, for benefits achievements, managers set a certain level of monthly, quarterly, or annual quotas for sales.
Putting these quotas, a manager has to be realistic about the big picture of the previous sales, rep's capacities, and marketing environment. Or put the long incentives achievement period instead of short-incentives periods causes a negative effect instead of a positive.
If you haven’t enough experience or proven knowledge to implement incentives in a contact center, it's better to maintain the work without any kind of incentives whatsoever.
As you can see now, the more your corporate policy is professionally-oriented, experience-guided, and planned, the fewer obstacles on the path of implementing successful incentives.
The right and planned incentives are multiplying positive effects such as productivity, attendance, and cooperation.
Each month, thousands of reps quit their jobs every year because of lousy corporate policies. And none of the incentives have the power to stop turnover unless the causes and effects are carefully defined. Below we’ll show the ways to flourish your contact center with the right behavior and the ways to connect the dots.
Correction before incentives of any kind
By the way, are you sure you need incentives right away? There's a much faster and more effective method to improve your contact center's performance. Sometimes instead of incentives, you need a correction in the obvious working conditions.
That means your goals are achievable, and you know every detail your contact center works. Plus, if corrections bring the positive effect you expected, it will save an enormous amount of time and money. Basically, to exclude all delusions and provide proper corrections, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the working shift of reps suitable?
- Does every rep have complete knowledge about the product or service before conversations with customers?
- Are the goals achievable?
- Is the level of cooperation between each other on a decent level?
- What blocks reps from delivering a 5-star customer experience and service?
- Does everyone have everything they need?
When these questions are clear, you can increase performance through incentives implementation.
The value of the contact center rewards and recognition ideas
Reward programs are a powerful tool for increasing the productivity and retention rates of employees in a contact center. Incentives of a different kind give the feeling of decency and human-being perception.
Expenses on the incentives must consider the budget and walk along with the company's plans. There are plenty of money-free benefits you can use for employees.
Types of rewards for your reps
Source: Perks Of Persuasion: The Benefits Employees Would Change Jobs For, Statista
Frankly, you can provide either tangible or intangible incentives for your representatives in a contact center. Intangible benefits sometimes bring more effect than tangible ones, and you’ll see the evidence. On the contrary, a combination of the two types of incentives can produce stellar retention and productivity rates in your contact center.
Source: Most common perks offered by human resources (HR) managers in North America, Statista
In most cases, this is the direct way to reward the performance of employees. The money benefits are well-known and proven benefits, yet there are others. It could be gift certificates, or hardware, such as laptops, tablets, headsets, you name it.
For what do you reward employees with tangible benefits?
- For the highest sales rates in a contact center;
- For the highest quality assurance scores;
- For tackling the most challenging requests;
- For the highest rates of feedback from customers;
- For mentoring newbies, guidance, and work launching.
All of them increase productivity in case your policy and activity are great.
The surveys showed that money isn’t the main goal of people working in certain positions. The intangible benefits of work, such as corporate policy, recognition, respect, love to work, self-development, etc., are more powerful motivators.
Interestingly, it’s easier and much cheaper to deliver intangible benefits to increase overall morale and productivity, yet most managers over the globe believe in the superiority of tangible benefits.
Yes, there is a third-proven way to motivate your employees. This is defining the necessities and solving them. In small contact centers, you can define each of the employee’s necessities to provide personal incentives.
For example, one of your employees requires additional training and mentoring. Negotiate in private with each of the employees and discuss the option for work improvement.
The more seats in your contact center, the more experienced the manager must be to hit employees with the right incentives.
Who should you target in your contact center?
Your primary targeted group is the front-line reps because of the high working dynamics, pressures, and burnout rates of this category of employees. However, they’re not the only target.
However, supervisors, managers, and all other colleagues must be part of the incentives. If you touch only one category of your employees, this causes favoritism, and that’s not good for the overall morale.
Some of the employees will feel a fade and fatigue state of mind due to favoritism. The idea of the complex incentives for all employees in a company is more successful for boosting employees’ productivity and morale than hitting one particular group.
Periods you should use for incentives
Even though the type of incentives is crucial, there are other issues. The reason why incentives sometimes fail is that they do not accurately consider the periods for different groups of employees. Knowing the difference of impact of monthly, quarterly, and annual incentives, in other words, between short and long-term incentives, are critical.
Short-term versus long-term incentives
The short-term incentives are weekly and monthly benefits. The employees that are likely to accept the short-term incentives:
- Average performers.
For the quarter and annual benefits are more likely to apply for experienced and high performers.
Source: Median annual pay incentive for full-time employees in the United Kingdom (UK), Statista
The dark side of incentives
Managers fail in incentives implementation because of the wrong angle of view. They think they qualify by solving productivity or turnover issues by simply adding hundreds of dollars to the salary.
Or they think it’s possible to use the incentives to change the behavior of the nature of employees. Actually, that’s the wrong angle of view. And here’s why.
It may surprise you, but sometimes the incentives carry negative effects on your contact center’s performance. Here are the most well-known negative effects:
- The lowering of productivity, instead of increase. There are dozens of cases when reps already know what they need to do for achieving certain monetary benefits. Knowing that they start carrying the “bottom line” working attitude. In this case, they will do only a certain amount of work to reach the particular benefit.
The solution is to carefully identify the necessities of each group of employees and hit the ground with the right incentives.
- The lack of risk-taking. Knowledge about certain benefits could cause the “safe-mode” of representatives. That means reps will likely do everything to prevent the risk in their work. For instance, reps don’t make additional efforts to persuade customers because it causes additional risks or emotional pressure.
The most popular risk-taker effect is when reps refuse to be promoted and take additional responsibilities. If they achieve a certain level of the bottom-line benefits that satisfy them, most people tend to avoid the additional responsibility.
Important advice for the successful incentives
The incentives are a great way to boost your contact center productivity, retention, and performance rates. The only rule is to know what type of incentives and proper periods (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually).
The roots of the successful implementation of incentives are in the corporate policy and the motivated people. To incentivize the deadwood employee is the hardest journey you will ever take. On the contrary, incentivizing highly motivated people is the surest way to achieve unpredictable and positive outcomes.
By the way, first of all, eliminate horizontal and vertical disconnection between employees and heads of contact centers. And bring a feeling of appreciation to extract the talents and potentials of everyone in a contact center. And your life as a manager of a contact center will be much easier.
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