Keeping employees happy and motivated is challenging in any workplace, and agent motivation is especially difficult for contact centers. Although you might think employee happiness is less of a priority than ROI, customer experience, or profit margins — research shows that happy employees are more productive.
It’s here, at the juncture of happiness and productivity, where contact center incentive ideas come into play.
Compensation helps, but money isn’t everything. While some employees prefer you, in the words of Jerry Maguire, “show them the money,” cash bonuses are not the only way to show your employees you value their hard work.
In this era of agent engagement, “Truly engaged contact center employees create an opportunity for differentiation,” according to Gartner Research.
Gartner defines “Workforce Engagement Management” as “the science of creating the workplace conditions so that employees can give their best each day; committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, and enjoy an enhanced sense of well-being.”
With so much potential awaiting your organization with engaged agents, working to motivate contact center agents is a worthwhile investment. Keeping agents engaged and inspired to deliver the very best service to your customers requires recognition and motivation, two paramount aspects of the agent optimization equation.
Agent Motivation and Recognition
Customer service agents like to be recognized among their peers for stellar performance. Hey, it’s human nature! We all like to be celebrated. Recognition inspires continued excellence, fosters a sense of pride in one’s job, and motivates agents to accomplish the job at hand.
According to McKinsey, “The real impact (of agent performance) comes from supervisors who take the time to provide meaningful coaching and give recognition.” With agent onboarding, training, and payroll already representing the highest costs to a customer service organization, high turnover can cripple a contact center. Managers, supervisors, and team leaders must do everything possible to mitigate agent churn.
How can managers motivate contact center agents? Here are 13 contact center incentive ideas.
1. Preferential Scheduling
The only thing people value as much (maybe more) than money is time. For many contact center employees, the opportunity to select or at least influence their time slot and work shift is an enticing motivator. Flexibility helps with work-life balance.
Consider dividing staff into three tiers based on KPI results, and then let agents choose their preferred first, second and third shift. Then, each quarter, allow employees to re-bid their shift assignments, with preferences awarded based on their previous quarter results.
This system offers employees more (though not ultimate) control over their time and schedule, while also offering lower-tier agents additional incentives each quarter. A similar agent motivation contact center incentive allows employees to bid for PTO (paid time off) dates. When multiple employees are competing for the same days off, the tiered system rewards top performing agents with a greater chance of getting the time off they want.
2. Perks Of Convenience
Have you ever been trudging your way through a mundane and tiresome day, but then suddenly something unexpected comes along that brightens up your perspective? The car in front of you kindly (and blindly) pays for your order in the coffee drive-through, or you’re lucky enough to snag the best parking spot at your local mega-mart.
Small perks of convenience like this add a glimmer of optimism to an otherwise unremarkable day. Consider offering your agents similar motivation perks that make their workday more convenient or enjoyable. If your agents are working at an office, offer preferential parking spaces, sought-after seating locations (near a window or in a reserved office, for example), or allow the employee to choose their own break or lunchtimes. If your agents are virtual, allow them to take the afternoon off or take a longer lunch.
These small perks add up to a brighter day for employees who have earned it, giving them a real sense of accomplishment.
3. Team Competition
Incentive-based, contact center competition is a great way to make work fun. But team competition also promotes cooperation, camaraderie, and even a bit of friendly social pressure to reach performance goals.
Start by organizing your agents into teams based on their cumulative stats.
Make the most of your contact center incentives budget with frequent, inexpensive shared rewards, like a pizza party or by awarding digital badges showing an agent’s achievements to their peers and managers. You can easily customize your badges with “Awesomeness,” “Best of the Best,” “You’re a Closer,” etc. And then celebrate these achievements on your organization’s instant message platform.
You can also award points which are redeemed using your company’s online store.
Some organizations offer educational gifts to further learning (such as books on customer service excellence), while others provide higher-value gift cards or electronics.
Inspire your staff to develop measurable, meaningful goals for the team to accomplish together. Maybe all of your agents are experiencing an efficiency lag, or customer satisfaction ratings are not as high as you would like them to be. These are great areas for a team to work together!
For maximum support from employees, collect and curate their suggestions for whole-team improvement goals. Then, develop rewards everyone can enjoy together as a result of reaching this target.
Here are a few ideas for celebrating team goals:
- An office party (A virtual Zoom happy hour works just as well if your agents are hybrid or remote!)
- A group yoga session
- A group outing on a workday
5. Personalize Contact Center Incentives
Most of us appreciate small gestures, like gift cards or company logo merchandise. But, these require little money and even less thought on behalf of the company. So, if you’re wondering how to motivate contact center agents, get personal!
Personalized incentives are as simple as putting a Post-it note recognizing their good performance on an agent’s workstation or mailing a note to their home. Notes written by hand tend to mean more than emails or printed-out text. Another option is to publicly recognize and motivate agents (among their peers) using an online social community wall.
And if you decide to use actual gifts, why not mix it up a little to make employees feel recognized as individuals? For example, employees celebrating their one-year anniversary at Two Rivers Marketing receive a caricature drawing of themselves.
Personalized items help employees feel appreciated for their work, reinforces a strong work ethic and builds long-term loyalty.
If you think only “big-ticket” items motivate your agents, consider developing an employee performance raffle system. Employees reaching certain success benchmarks (a certain number of “highly satisfied” customers or accumulated points, for example) earn a raffle entry for a large, buzz-worthy reward item.
Raffles ideas include:
- A weekend hotel stay
- Sizable cash prize
- An expensive restaurant gift certificate
- A tablet or headset
- Sizable gift card to a store of their choosing
The frequency of these raffle drawings depends on your budget or how you schedule your team. Either way, the names of non-winners remain in the drawing for next time, motivating agents to continue working to increase their odds each cycle and adding to the contact center fun.
7. Play Survivor
Use the self-contained environment of your contact center to recreate a game of Survivor. First, split your agents into teams. Each day, decide on a new challenge, such as positive feedback, high-quality scores or fast handling times. Then write a message telling what the day’s challenge is.
Have the teams meet at the beginning of each shift to plan their “strategy” for the upcoming challenge. At the end of the shift, the team that comes in first gets a reward or points toward the ultimate prize. The losing teams must eliminate a team member. It places together those eliminated to make a new team for the next day’s challenge.
This contact center version of Survivor keeps everyone involved and working with different agents they might not ordinarily interact with. The new team becomes the underdogs, motivating them to try harder. At the end of the contest, the agent with the most points gets contact center incentives from the available prizes. Now that’s how to motivate contact center agents!
8. Trivia Contest
Trivia contests provide a quick and easy way to bring your contact center team together. The trivia can be about small, little-known facts about their work or from pop-culture. Gamification makes a big difference!
Announce the trivia question at the beginning of each shift. At the end of the day, use your contact center metrics to rank each agent. Then, start with the highest performer that day — and the first person to guess correctly gets their choice of prizes or incentives.
9. Contact Center Stars
Contact center contests often focus on some kind of game. And while games keep things fun — to really motivate your agents, focus them on the reward itself.
Every week, choose a different key performance indicator to focus on — but don’t tell your agents! At the end of the week, identify who met that metric. You can even go as far as creating a contact center Wall of Fame, displaying each week’s winner. Recognition from your manager and peers becomes reward enough!
10. Wheel of Appreciation
Most customers don’t have a lot of time to call and compliment someone who has given them good service. So, when one of those rare calls comes in, it’s time to celebrate! Reward that agent for their exceptional customer experience with something significant.
Set up a Wheel of Appreciation, by dividing a wheel into wedges and writing names of great prizes on each. When someone gets a compliment call, they get to spin the wheel for a prize.
Make sure your Wheel of Appreciation is always visible, reminding your agents of the customer satisfaction they’re aiming for. And keep the momentum going by giving it a spin when you walk by or periodically adding new, valuable prizes on the wheel.
When that compliment comes in, make a big production of it. Call the winning agent to the wheel and point them to the spinner. Then, bring out the prize they spin up from your store of incentives and give it to them on the spot!
11. Friday Barbecue
While not always possible, it’s nice to think of work as a place you enjoy being. Of the many contact center rewards and recognition ideas, food is key! When agents achieve a goal, reward them with a fun meal. Think about a theme — like Taco Tuesdays or Barbeque Fridays! These fun meals can be done virtually as well.
Add virtual or in-person games, contests or incentives to the mix for a more rewarding day everyone will enjoy. Sharing a bite together is a great way to build company culture and camaraderie!
12. Agents Become Trainers
Reward your best agents by providing opportunities to create their own training modules for under-performing and newer agents. This really showcases how much your organization values their achievements — their contributions are so valuable you want to pass key learnings along! Don’t forget to award the agent a “Trainer” badge to hold him/her in high esteem moving forward.
This agent motivation tactic has additional team impact — providing newer or less seasoned agents an opportunity to learn directly from top performers!
13. Get Everyone On Board
It’s always beneficial to recognize your top performers. Yet, there may be motivated agents who do a good job without getting rewarded for it. Make sure you’re getting everyone involved and providing equal chances of winning, including incentives for agents who aren’t your star players.
Touch base with all your agents throughout any contest or incentive program. Keep everyone in the loop when you’re preparing for a new game or reward system. And let everyone know they’re all valuable in their own way.
Make sure everyone finds their own best qualities and reasons to shine. Remember you can’t run a successful contact center with only a few top performers. You need everyone doing their individual best. When that happens, the contact center itself will shine!
Whether you’re trying to boost morale, encourage loyalty, increase productivity, motivate agents, or all of the above, having quality incentives for contact center employees is key to developing an ideal workplace.
Spontaneously and genuinely acknowledging your employees’ strengths is the foundation for any contact center rewards and recognition program. And by getting a little creative with your rewards you’re providing a spark that ignites employees to strive for more.
Want to learn more about how Playvox can improve quality in your contact center? Request a demo today!