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Rewarding YOUR frontline workers: call-centre staff

Chris Ford, Senior Director at Blackhawk Network

May 13 2020 - Customer service doesn't stop during a global crisis. If anything, it becomes even more crucial as customer enquiries become more frequent and less predictable. For many customer support teams working on the frontline, this means that alongside trying to adjust to this period of remote working, social distancing and quarantine, they are also dealing with higher call volumes and anxious customers.

This can place a lot of stress on the individuals and their overall team culture, so we need to ensure that we give our frontline workers the recognition they deserve. Now, more than ever, employers need to think about how to keep all staff feeling motivated and supported.

Enhance employee experience

The first rule of excellent customer service is building rapport and understanding of what customers need; and it's no different when it comes to delivering a great employee experience. For those working from home, it can feel like they're a world away from the norms of a thriving and energetic office - although anyone still working from the office will likely say the same. With 29% of the UK workforce admitting that working from home makes them feel more stressed, according to Liberty Games, keeping a sense of your company culture, wherever you are, should be a rudimentary step. This will help to keep spirits up, and communication lines open between employees and employers.

Technology is providing fantastic ways to keep us all connected. Although we can no longer catch up while making a cup of tea, or go for lunch as a team, we can arrange team activities online through the likes of Zoom and Google Meet. Video calls ensure that staff are engaged and feel connected, no matter which department they work in. If anything, it may even help people from all over the business engage with teams they didn't have the chance to interact much with before. You can also get creative with your activities; organise a quiz night, do a company-wide treasure hunt or play charades. Here at Blackhawk Network, for example, we have one work-based catch-up that consists of daily updates on everyone's priorities; but also a second, fun and informal chat to check-in with everyone on a more personal level, which often includes on the spot rewards and recognitions for things that have nothing to do with work.

The possibilities are endless, and seeing everyone's faces - even if it is on camera - can make a real difference in maintaining team relationships and keeping up morale.

Reward and motivate your staff

Ultimately, employee happiness at work is directly linked to better performance, longer tenure and overall loyalty. A consistently positive culture and a purpose that resonates can make a company stand out from its competitors in the long run. For those staff members working in call centres and customer service teams, the smallest details and actions can make all the difference between delivering great experiences, or an average one - especially during times of uncertainty.

Offering employee perks and sharing rewards shows how much staff are valued. From our clients, we've learned that the best way to make staff feel appreciated is by rewarding little and often. It's also worth employers knowing that rewards within the value of £50 are categorised under the HMRC's trivial benefits tax break. This means lower costs for employers and higher benefits for employees; a win-win.

For those planning reward and recognition initiatives, it's crucial to remember that whatever is on offer needs to be flexible, allowing the recipient to choose what they desire most. This is particularly important in times like a global crisis when staff will be facing daily uncertainties and personal challenges. For example, presenting a £10 gift code that gives the employee the choice of when and where to treat themselves - whether they're spending it on home office attire, renting a movie or putting it towards a weekly food shop - having the freedom to choose for themselves can result in a much more rewarding experience. In turn, this heightened employee experience will result in happier staff, and even more quality customer experiences.

Create a thriving culture

The key to keeping call centre staff happy and motivated during this time is by recognising that they are under more pressure than ever as they deal with a constantly evolving situation. As we all start to realise that it's the delivery drivers, the nurses, the firemen, the policemen, the ambulance drivers and the contact centre staff (to name just a few) that continue to be the nation's heroes, employers can tap into this positive feeling to develop their own thriving culture. A culture that will last not just for today but well into the future.

It's no surprise that the companies that focus on customer service excellence are often the companies that deliver exceptional business performance year on year. As excellent customer service is generally delivered by motivated, rewarded and recognised people, it follows that to standout now, more than ever, keeping your frontline teams connected and engaged on both a personal and professional level will set you apart from your competitors now and in the future.


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