Make gratitude and appreciation part of your culture.
In today’s world of social media, digital self-service, chatbots and AI, your frontline customer care agents are the voice of your brand and your customers’ touchpoint to humanity. It is more important than ever to ensure that they are appreciated and recognized for delivering on your company’s mission, vision and values.
Based on positive psychology research from Harvard Health: “Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.”
Of course, you don’t want to force supervisors or employees to state something for which they are grateful or appreciative. That would be insincere. However, you do want to make recognition, appreciation and gratitude part of your culture. You can become the Quiet Hero by leading by example. How? By providing and supporting opportunities for your teams to express their appreciation and gratitude for one another. If this sounds like a workplace culture that you want to have but your center is not quite there yet, or if you are struggling to turn things around, be patient, play the long game and celebrate small victories.
At Best Western’s contact center, we have leveraged a variety of opportunities to recognize and show appreciation and gratitude for our teams’ actions that align with our mission, vision and values. I would like to highlight two of those: Customer Compliments and Peer-to-Peer Recognition. Best Western’s values-based culture is reinforced with performance reviews in which KPIs and competencies are equally weighted. We believe that it’s not just what you do, but how you do it.
Customer Compliments (Bouquet Calls)
When a caller wants to speak to an agent’s supervisor to tell him or her what a good job the agent just did, we call these “Bouquet Calls.” The supervisor gathers the details from the caller and blasts that praise to all agents via email.
Every week, I send those agents who received Bouquets a direct communication expressing my gratitude and thanks for their efforts to deliver on our vision to provide superior customer care. I include our senior executives and HR leaders in the message to leverage the impact of the recognition. In addition, each week, those receiving Bouquets, are recognized on our office reader boards. The customer comments slowly scroll by so that everyone can see it up on the TV.
Then, on a monthly basis, all agents who received Bouquets are put into a drawing for a small prize package. The winner is drawn during our monthly video newsletter. The agent’s name is read aloud along with the customer compliment.
In our contact center, we make hotel reservations. We are not always perfect and we do make errors. But we have found that a Best Western agent is five times more likely to receive a Bouquet from a customer than an error.
Peer-to-Peer Recognition (Values for Excellence)
We have an open online survey (created in SurveyMonkey) for employees to recognize excellence demonstrated by their peers or leaders. Best Western’s values include Integrity, Honesty, Accountability, Fairness, Respect, Leadership and Community. Any employee can go online and nominate a co-worker who they think demonstrated any of the above mentioned behaviors.
Each month, I select the most impactful nomination. That employee gets to select a prize from our prize cabinet. Prizes are equal to about $25 in value and are loving assembled by our Employees Activities Committee.
A communication is then emailed to the entire department. We include in that communication every nomination and the details of how these employees demonstrated our Values for Excellence. As with Customer Compliments, I also include our senior executives and HR leaders to leverage the impact of the recognition. Since we have instituted this vehicle of recognition and appreciation in 2015, there have been nearly 300 nominations.
We firmly believe that being recognized and appreciated is a driver of culture and engagement. How has this paid off over the past few years? Since 2013, Best Western’s contact center has seen a 16% increase in employee engagement relative to “Being treated well,” “Recognition for employee’s work contribution,” and “Belief in Best Western’s Values.” Best Western has been recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as a Top 5 Employer for the past two years, and by AZ Central as a Top 125 Employer in the state of Arizona.