The tactics in the Customer Service Experience are meant to be a team project. You can’t decide your agency’s future or the best way to reach your clients and potential clients without input from your entire agency — not just the sales force. If everyone is not lockstep with your agency positioning or how you want your agency to be perceived, your message will fall short. Consistency is key. Everyone should be singing from the same song book.
To succeed, you need buy-in. Buy-in creates motivation. Motivation creates action. And action creates results.
What are some keys to motivation?
1. Establish agency goals with input. Of course, not everyone can sit in on agency planning meetings, but everyone can share in the process.
a. Have managers solicit input from their respective teams. Ask for feedback on current business practices. Be respectful of all viewpoints: You might learn something you never knew about internal dynamics, client relationships, sales roadblocks, frustrations, employee or client hot buttons, etc.
2. Share annual or long-range plans, and show how they support individual goals. Highlight how proposed growth will lead to a better bonus, higher salary, promotion, move to a new office … whatever concrete payoff you feel comfortable promising.
a. Put it in writing. Be specific. This can be done during employee reviews and should be tied to annual goals.
3. Recognize that money is not the supreme motivator. While salary is important, a study by Vickie Niebrugge found it is not the number one “want” for employees. Niebrugge, Vicki, Declining Employee Morale: Defining the Causes and Finding the Cure
What employees say they value most:
1. Interesting work
2. Appreciation and recognition
3. Feeling “in on things”
4. Job security
5. Good wages
7. Good working conditions
8. Personal loyalty
9. Tactful discipline
10. Sympathetic help with problems
Based on this list, what can you do as a manager to satisfy these needs? After all, a happy employee is a motivated employee.
4. Review plan progress regularly (at least quarterly), so everyone knows how the agency is performing versus plan.
a. Treat these reviews as important milestones, not as afterthoughts.
b. Include every department — you never know who might brainstorm the next idea for improvement or change.
5. Live the plan and stay true to its original focus. Everyone will see when you veer from what you originally said was important. This alone can kill motivation. If you want to change the original course established for the agency, explain why and how the change affects how they should be working.
6. Reward ongoing performance. Don’t wait for big end-of-year rewards. Even simple thank-you reminders can be remarkably powerful. Give someone who worked overtime a gift card for the local coffee shop. Mention someone’s extra effort in the company blog. Leave a personal, handwritten thank-you note in someone’s inbox.
a. Don’t let personal biases affect feedback. A person you don’t have a strong personal connection to might be one of the biggest contributors to agency success. A positive word from you in these instances could be especially powerful.
7. Provide a feedback mechanism. Let employees know the agency’s plans are responsive and flexible. If they have ideas for improvement, provide a clear path for employee input, either formally or informally.
a. Reward all suggestions, even if they aren’t ultimately implemented. This supports the continued flow of ideas and reinforces the notion that “no idea is a bad idea.”
b. If people are reticent, set up a method for anonymous suggestions.