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CSR Recognition Best Practices

As most contact center managers know, motivating Agents to use the desired customer service behaviors to achieve world-class call resolution performance and retaining the best Agents are significant challenges.

An effective recognition program will significantly help management motivate Agents to excel at providing call resolution at the world class level and retain the top call resolution performing Agents. It is important to note that 46% of customers whose call was not resolved felt the Agent could have done more to resolve their call.

In many cases, the Agents were not motivated to use the desired customer service behaviors to resolve customer calls. In other words, from a customer point of view, it was a will issue rather than a skill issue.

A best practice is to recognize Agent behavior and reward the voice of the customer (VoC) results in a frequent, descriptive, impactful, and personal manner. Agents need to know what they are being recognized for and because it motivates them to continue to use the behaviors that help them achieve world-class VoC results.

SQM clients performing at the world-class First Call Resolution (FCR) level use the following VoC recognition best practices, or a variation thereof, for recognizing Agents:


BE FREQUENT - Recognize Agents daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually for FCR, call resolution, CX improvement, and great performance. The more timely, consistent, and frequent, the better.

BE DESCRIPTIVE - Recognize Agents for specific behaviors they use to resolve a call or provide FCR and great CX. The more descriptive the feedback, the more the Agent will feel it is sincere.

BE IMPACTFUL - Focus Agent recognition on behaviors that positively impact FCR, call resolution, and CX performance. These are the behaviors (e.g., going the extra mile) you want the Agent to repeat.

BE PERSONAL - Know that each Agent is motivated by recognition differently. Do they prefer private or public recognition? Are they motivated by money, time off, belonging, recognition, personal development, or career advancement?

CSR Awards

Mike Desmarais, CEO & Founder of SQM, Awarding CSR of the Year at SQM’s Annual Conference.

Agent Ranking of VoC Recognition Motivators

The below figure shows SQM's focus group results for Agent ranking of VoC recognition motivators.

CSR Recognition graph

  • The number 1 recognition motivator (advancement) is career opportunities based on Agent VoC performance.
  • Numbers 2 (additional training) and 3 (special assignment) recognition motivators are closely aligned to the number 1 motivator because they give Agents the opportunity to advance within the call center or the organization based on their VoC performance.
  • The number 4 recognition motivator (time off) provides a balanced lifestyle.
  • The number 5 recognition motivator (recognition) is where Agents' VoC performance is recognized in either a group or a private setting.
  • The number 6 recognition motivator (cash/gift cards) provides Agents with gift cards for their VoC accomplishments, many of whom use those gift cards for their day-to-day living expenses (e.g., gas, food, and merchandise).
  • The number 7 recognition motivator (increase autonomy) is for Agents who want less supervision because they have a high-performance VoC track record.
  • The number 8 recognition motivator (party and fun activities) provides an opportunity for Agents to celebrate their VoC performance with other employees.
  • The number 9 recognition motivator (special notes) acknowledges Agent VoC performance with a congratulatory note. When the note comes from their supervisor, they like to receive it through an email or note card; however, when it comes from senior management, they like to receive it on a typed, signed letterhead or on a signed notecard.
  • The number 10 recognition motivator (performance updates) is for Agents who are self-motivated and just need to be kept informed of, or have access to, their VoC performance.
  • The number 11 recognition motivator (prizes and merchandise) is for Agents who like to receive company-branded merchandise for their VoC performance.

Using a point system that Agents can redeem for company-branded merchandise can effectively recognize VoC performance. This is especially effective if the Agent is asked to go to a senior manager's office to select a company-branded merchandise item based on the number of VoC points they have earned. By having the Agent visit the senior manager's office, the senior manager is able to recognize the Agent's VoC performance verbally.

An important message to convey around the Agent ranking of VoC recognition motivators is what motivates one Agent may not necessarily motivate another. In other words, the best VoC motivator recognition program is one that is customized for each Agent.

Most supervisors or managers do not know what truly motivates their Agents to achieve high VoC performance. One of the best ways to understand what motivates each Agent is to conduct focus group sessions with all Agents. Each focus group session should have no more than 15 Agents. At the session, each Agent is asked to rank what motivates them and the reasons why it motivates them to achieve high VoC performance.

Alternatively, simply ask Agents what motivates them. By understanding what motivates Agents to achieve high VoC performance, managers are able to tailor recognition to suit individual Agents.

I welcome you to read our overview page outlining great examples of Agent recognition best practices that offer methods for providing frequent, descriptive,  impactful, and personal feedback with your Agents. In addition, access case studies from organizations that have demonstrated award-winning Agent recognition best practices that helped improve or maintain positive customer experience performance.

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