Low–Cost Agent Incentives
by Susan Hash
In tough economic times, what can you do to inspire your frontline staff and recognize them for their efforts? Fortunately, the most effective incentive programs don't have to cost a lot, and the return in higher morale and increased performance can be substantial. The following three ideas can help to keep your front line motivated and engaged without breaking the bank.

Create Personal Relationships with Your Agents
One of the most powerful and lasting employee incentives is recognition from their manager or supervisor. Creating personal relationships with your agents is the best way to get results. Workplace research has shown that having a strong connection to a supervisor or manager is the foundation for employee loyalty. Yet, many managers don't know a lot about their employees; for instance, how many kids they have, whether they have pets, or what types of hobbies or activities they enjoy.
Practical Pointer: One of the most effective rewards that can also help managers to build long–lasting ties with agents is to take their place on the phones for an hour. It makes a powerful impression on agents—when you're doing the same work, even for a short time, it creates a shared understanding of the job and builds a stronger relationship.

Keep it simple: It's the Thought that Counts
Incentives don't have to involve complicated contests that require weeks of planning. Rewards should be simple. The goal is to recognize the hard work that your agents are doing; for instance, giving out coffee or chocolate bars.
Practical Pointer: What employee wouldn't enjoy the chance to be waited on by his or her manager—or even better, senior management? Consider treating your agents by having supervisors and managers serve them breakfast or lunch, or by having company executives valet–park their cars as they arrive for their shifts.

Planning the Incentives Can Be an Incentive
If you want to find out what types of rewards motivate your team, ask them. Getting frontline staff involved in developing an incentive program is a good way to ensure its success.
Practical Pointer: If you have career–minded agents who want additional responsibility, put them in charge of an incentive project. The chance to develop their skills though project management and involvement is an effective way to recognize senior agents.

Inside View — Access Development
by Susan Hash
What types of individuals perform well in a home–based environment? That was a question which contact center management at affinity marketing firm Access Development considered early when developing their home–agent program. They found that the home–agent profile is slightly different than onsite staff. Working at home requires someone who doesn't need the social interaction as much as the typical customer service professional, who tends to be a highly social individual. While that trait makes certain individuals excel at building relationships with customers and fellow employees, it's also the reason why many will wither away in a home–based work environment.
Read the full story here.


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