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  • 18 December 2014
  • Dr Billy M.

Customer service incentive ideas for small business employees

If you owned a restaurant, what would be the best way to motivate your wait staff — requiring them to pool their tips or allowing each person to keep their earnings?

Part of your mission as a small business owner should be incentivizing your employees to provide superior service that results in customer satisfaction and subsequently generates additional business. You can use customer experience metrics or other means as a basis for incentivizing employees, but you must ensure all workers in your company are ultimately recognized for their work. Accomplishing this takes a strategic approach.

Make regular contact with staff to see how they’re doing, how you can help them with problems and, most importantly, recognize their contributions, no matter how small.

Salary, wages, and benefits
Compensation and incentive packages don’t necessarily motivate your staff to provide better customer service. Wages and benefits enforce timeliness, teamwork, and adequate job performance but only serve to encourage a baseline, minimum standard of achievement. To make good customer service reps out of your employees, you’ll have to go a step further.

Employee recognition programs

Support employees who provide stellar service by offering incentive rewards designed to inspire higher thresholds of productivity. Employees will typically get inspiration from and be motivated by these types of in-house rewards program.

  • It may sound clichéd, but "Employee of the Month" programs are still an effective way to incentivize your staff. Monthly recognition of top sellers, for example, will motivate them to continue to excel, and also serve as an example others should emulate.
  • Depending on your industry, you can establish a performance-based program that recognizes and rewards employees. For instance, you can set client acquisition and retention goals or quantity-based sales goals and reward those who meet them with an annual bonus.
  • Oftentimes, salespeople will constantly be on the lookout for the next new customer, forgetting to maintain relationships with current clients. To combat this, offer your staff rewards for renewed contracts.

As a general rule, when it comes to rewarding employees, individual incentives are more effective than group incentives. If you must reward group accomplishments, it should be done in addition to, not in place of, individual rewards.

Empower your staff

Typically, the further you get beyond the initial sale, the more difficult it is to maintain customer satisfaction. This can be challenging, particularly if once-happy clients are now experiencing billing or other problems. Empower your employees so that they remain dedicated to their customers:

  • Rather than have employees interact with these customers after something has already gone wrong, help them be proactive in their customer service and maintain relationships with their clients so their dissatisfaction will be mitigated if and when things go awry.
  • Although time is critical in business, cut your staff some slack. Don’t aggressively limit the amount of time they spend with customers and allow them to visit and service clients unencumbered.

You should also adopt a constructive management style. Make regular contact with staff to see how they’re doing, how you can help them with problems and, most importantly, recognize their contributions, no matter how small. This creates positive reinforcement and a caring attitude that is often passed on to the customer.


You can use feedback to track and reward staff performance. Although payouts can be made on a monthly or yearly basis in the form of money or vacation days, daily feedback should be offered.

  • Ask your customers to participate in short surveys regarding their customer service experience, and use the results as a basis for rewarding employees.
  • Get feedback from your employees about their job satisfaction, challenges, and desires, as well as how you can make their jobs easier. Monthly e-mail or paper surveys are an easy way to gather responses anonymously, and if logistically possible, set up quarterly meetings to get face-to-face feedback from individual employees. Lastly, be careful with your feedback-based rewards and make sure they are not solely focused on your frontline employees.

In summation , establish and connect your customer service rewards to what makes your clients happiest. This will also make your employees happy. Be sure to provide incentives for achieving desired results, with the ultimate goal being to motivate your employees to serve customers more effectively.

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