Aligning Employee Recognition to Your CX Strategy

By Aimee Lucas posted 07-15-2021 03:42 PM

A fundamental truth that shapes how employees behave at work is People do what is measured, incented, and celebrated. So, if your organization is struggling to understand why it isn’t delivering a better customer experience, it might be time to review what metrics get the most attention and how employees get recognized and rewarded.

If you find yourself among the organizations that haven’t fully aligned employee recognition and rewards to your customer experience (CX) goals, it’s time to create an environment that reinforces the behaviors employees need to demonstrate to keep your customer promises every day. To get started, here are some tips are drawn from my research in customer and employee experience best practices:one lit bulb in a row of unlit bulbs

  • Clearly define “good” behaviors. Before you can align your rewards and recognition tactics, it’s important to get a clear picture of the behaviors you need from employees. Do you want call center employees to cut down average handle time or spend the time needed to resolve a customer’s issue during the first call? Is it important for employees across the company to set aside industry jargon and use easy to understand language with customers—whether that’s in marketing collateral like a new customer welcome package, company documentation like a service contract, on the website, or over the phone? Once the company defines its behaviors, then measures, incentives, and celebrations should be synched up to reinforce those behaviors. And don’t just introduce new elements to your recognition program – be sure to check for mixed messages and stop or change existing measures and incentives that emphasize less optimal employee behaviors.
  • Create formal Customer Experience awards. Many companies have existing award and incentive programs around sales or quality accomplishments, so it makes sense for CX awards to be formalized as well. Formal approaches may take the form of including a CX-focused category alongside existing reward and recognition categories or establishing a unique award program. For example, one global technology company structured its first CX award program to recognize outstanding team initiatives that impact the customer experience. Teams submitted entries, and a small number of winners were selected through a process of executive review and internal social media voting. Winners were announced via a live broadcast to internal and external audiences of employees and customers around the world.
  • Involve peers in recognizing their coworkers. There’s no reason why recognition only needs to come from the top-down. In fact, peer support and recognition can be a powerful incentive for behavior change. A number of organizations have launched programs that give employees channels to send messages of thanks and nominate their colleagues for living the company’s values, with nominations rolling up into monthly or quarterly drawings for prizes of various types. One quick-service restaurant chain in the UK used its employee social network to encourage team members to recognize each other with a public Shout Out for exceptional customer service. Employees at one B2B services firm designed their peer-to-peer program around core values, enabling employees to nominate their fellow coworkers in categories including excellent customer service, going the extra mile, and working as a team.
  • Tap into intrinsic motivations with your recognition efforts. When it comes to what drives individual behavior, intrinsic motivators like meaning, progress, choice, and competence make a difference. One way a company can leverage its recognition efforts to fuel those intrinsic motivators is with a program driven from customer-submitted feedback. For example, when a customer lets the company know about an employee who has gone above and beyond or turned an experience around, that employee could receive a personalized letter from the CEO and a certificate recognizing their performance, along with a copy of the customer’s feedback. Personalized, sincere letters or other forms of recognition from senior leaders reinforce the meaning or importance the company (and customers) place on employees’ work.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate teams. Many rewards and recognition programs tend to focus on individual accomplishments, causing companies to overlook an opportunity to recognize teams that collectively demonstrate excellence. Look for opportunities to recognize teams for exceeding customer experience KPIs or for making the most improvement in those KPIs and fund a team celebration. Or take a page from one Texas-based hospital that has its departments present a “traveling trophy” to each other every month to recognize the team that excelled at creating great experiences for employees and patients.

Each and every day, employee behaviors can almost always be explained by the environment they are in, which is shaped to a great extent by the activities that are rewarded and the actions that are celebrated by the company. Take the time to assess how your organization is recognizing the employees and teams who deliver excellent customer experiences—from employee success stories in company newsletters to on-the-spot bonuses to the ideas shared above. Employees doing the right things deserve to be celebrated!
#Customer Centric Culture