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Recognizing Exceptional Customer Service Behaviors

During a recent Q&A session, I was asked this question:

“How do you inspire employees to continue to offer excellent customer service when they are not recognized by supervisors when they do?”

It’s no different than when employees are not recognized for executing their job functions: the duties and tasks associated with their job roles. In other words, if an employee discontinues performing his job responsibilities because he doesn’t feel as though his contributions are being adequately recognized, then he would be subject to performance management measures, including disciplinary action.

Sadly, according to Gallup, a majority of US workers (65 percent) claim to have received no performance-based feedback – presumably, on their execution of job functions – during the previous 12 months. Even so, the fact that employees may not feel recognized does not give them a pass on performing their job responsibilities.

Employees’ performance should be consistently managed, whether related to their technical knowledge/skills or customer service behaviors. And one aspect of performance management is feedback, whether corrective (E.g., “Alex, rather than saying, ‘It’s our policy’, how else could you answer that question?”) or affirming (E.g., “Emily, I like how you said, ‘Right away!’ in response to the customer’s request rather than, ‘No problem’.”).

Feedback is inextricably linked to high performance. While average managers might justify indifference or maintaining the status quo by rationalizing, “If it works, don’t fix it,” the most effective managers recognize that you don’t have to be sick to get better.

Illustration by Aaron McKissen.

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