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Rick Blabolil
April 10, 2015

Why Great Customer Service Starts With Great Employee Recognition

There’s a small coffee shop in my neighborhood that serves great coffee. But that’s not why I keep returning. I love a good cup of coffee, but what brings me back time and again is great customer service. The owner knows my name and even remembers the way I like my coffee. And the employees always have a ready smile and an attitude that says “you are my most important customer” —even when the line of waiting customers stretches out the door.

I’m there frequently and I’ve been able to watch the owner interact with his employees and here’s what I’ve seen: when direction is needed, he does it quietly. No one is called out. When it seems there are too many customers and not enough hands, he and his employees collaborate to move things along. And whether he is there or not, employees are fully empowered to make any decisions needed to “take care of the customer.”

That coffee shop is a small operation, so there’s no obvious “employee recognition” program, but the way the owner treats his employees incorporates elements of the best of recognition programs. Here’s what I mean:

  • Employee recognition is a positive motivator. It can be used to reward a mid-course correction when an employee positively responds to suggestions for improvement.
  • Employee recognition fosters teamwork.  Siloed employees can often be a phenomena in large companies, let alone in small businesses, but teamwork is more than organizational structure and certain behaviors. It’s a connection between people and can get a boost from public acknowledgement of achievement, and peer-to-peer recognition programs.
  • Employee recognition empowers employees. In a recent blog, I gave the example of Nordstrom’s, which is considered to be the gold standard of customer service in retail. And here’s the key to their success: Nordstrom’s empowers its employees to do what it takes to satisfy customers on the spot.

Your organization is more than likely a lot bigger than my neighborhood coffee shop. And you have many, maybe hundreds or even thousands, of employees in your employee engagement program. As you take into consideration their diverse attitudes, and what they really value in terms of recognition, the items above cut across all employee groups, regardless of generational differences, gender, and ethnic diversity.  You could probably list a half-dozen attributes common to successful employee recognition programs globally, and what would be especially effective in your workplace. And that might just be a great exercise and one that can help you get started in possibly modifying your existing recognition program.

By the way, if you’re ever in my neighborhood, I’ll treat you to a great cup of coffee.

Would you like to learn more about rewards and recognition programs that create positive employee engagement? Contact a Marketing Innovators engagement specialist today.

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