Selected Article
Title Service Incentives
Date Published 03/08/2008
Author Judi Hess
Publication MSPA Blog

by Judith Ann Hess

President, Customer Perspectives

“Reward, whether in the coin of the realm or the psyche of the recipient, is critical to a service improvement program.” Ron Zemke, Service America

In our experience, the nature of the reward is not critical. The key is to “catch employees in the act of doing things right” and reward them accordingly. Some ways we have seen include:

  • Cumulative bonuses

  • A call of thanks from the CEO

  • An article in the bank’s newsletter

  • Cash-on-the-spot monetary rewards

  • Recognition and/or remuneration for an “Employee-of-the-Month”

  • Dinner or theater tickets

  • A special meal in the executive dining room

  • “Bonus” time off

Some banks, recognizing the value of role modeling by branch managers and/or wanting to promote teamwork in the branches, reward the entire branch – or at least those present at the time the bank is “shopped”. Others, wanting to recognize their behind-the-scenes support staff, assign each customer contact employee a “back office buddy” who then receives half of any rewards given to their front line partner. Again, the critical issue is the purpose – to improve service quality by rewarding good service – rather than the method.

Some managers feel that employees should not be rewarded for doing their job as expected, or for fulfilling their job description. Theoretically, we agree. But too few job descriptions emphasize quality service issues. Also, banks no longer have the luxury of hiring employees with preexisting social graces in today’s tight labor market. Human relations and communications skills must not only be taught but continuously reinforced. And one of the surest methods of reinforcement is positive incentive rewards. The bottom line is…they work!