August 09, 2010
Happy, sad, confused, frustrated, fed up, and overwhelmed are just some of the behaviors and attitudes your call center employees face every day from customer interactions. With every call and online exchange being unique, the job of your call center reps is to serve and satisfy each individual and their needs closely. And that’s not easy.

Lack of recognition, coupled with the stressful nature of customer service, is one of the main reasons for the low job satisfaction among call center representatives. The key to recognizing call center employees is planning it right, getting it right, and then giving it right. Try out these 10 recognition ideas before that next call comes in.

1. Make recognition a strategic priority. Showing representatives they are valued and appreciated for their hard work will help retain them for the long term right after paying them fairly.

2. Narrow down your purpose for recognition. Performance targets are a given in a call center environment. Should recognition just be for generating results, or do you also want to create a positive culture, help retain workers, and build morale?

3. Define the targets carefully. Recognition will fall flat if call center employees don’t know the business objectives and how to achieve them. Make certain behavior expectations are clearly spelled out, with goals posted on walls and station cubicles for all to know.

4. Know it when you see it. Representatives and supervisors should know how target behaviors and performance outcomes are going to be measured. What is measured is most likely what representatives will focus on.

5. Celebrate as a call center group. Not all recognition needs to be based on individual performance. Make time to celebrate team achievements and project goals as a group. Whether it’s sharing a pizza, cookies, or a lunch together, foster camaraderie among call reps.

6. Build peer-to-peer recognition. Supervisors can’t see everything that goes on to recognize everyone. So encourage representatives to be on the lookout for exemplary actions by colleagues and to nominate their peers who demonstrate company values, service, and other qualities for awards.

7. Merit instant recognition. When an individual achieves targets with the required service quality levels, immediately give on-the-spot recognition. Make a big deal out of every occurrence and highlight achievements in pre-shift and staff meetings.

8. Don't forget top service with top sales. There is always going to be the best-of-the-best salesperson earning awards in a sales campaign. Never neglect how results are achieved, and make sure to also recognize the service qualities that the company advocates.

9. Give tokens of appreciation … “just because.” Don’t forget to have chocolate bars and soda, restaurant certificates and gift cards, and other small tokens of appreciation on hand to to give to people for being steady performers or for being on time.

10. Provide constant positive feedback. Call center representatives are under continual pressure to perform on a nonstop basis. Wander around and make time to give genuine pats on the back and positive verbal feedback for what they are doing well. Everyone appreciates a “thank you!”

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and president of the Recognition Management Institute,, which consults companies on improving employee motivation that leads to increased productivity and profit. He can be reached at Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio.