It’s that time of year again when we reflect on the things and—most importantly—the people we are grateful for. For enterprises everywhere, this time often coincides with numerous team events, activities and other seasonal festivities. It’s a great opportunity to build camaraderie, strengthen team bonds and give hardworking staff a much-needed respite from what is often a busy and stressful season.
There’s another reason why showing employees they’re appreciated matters: it boosts retention and keeps talented workers engaged in their jobs. Just how much can gratitude impact employee experience? A 2023 study by Great Place to Work® found that a simple “thank you” from management can increase the likelihood of employees bringing extra effort to the work floor by 69 percent. Similarly, Harvard Business Review reported higher productivity and better performance when employees felt appreciated and valued by their managers.
While those findings should matter to any organization, they are especially meaningful to those in the customer service industry. Customer service workers often cope with higher levels of stress and burnout than employees in other industries. As a result, customer service boasts one of the highest employee turnover rates across all industries. Could acts of gratitude help turn the tide on this long-reigning problem? It’s certainly one piece of the puzzle. And with service departments everywhere gearing up for the busy months ahead, it’s one well worth exploring…
How to Show Customer Service Workers They’re Appreciated
So, what’s the best way to show your customer service reps that you care? It depends on the employee. While some employees thrive on public praise, others might not enjoy the added attention of being in the spotlight. Instead, they may prefer a personal note or email recognizing their contributions. Whatever the case may be, the point is to make employees feel valued and that their contributions are seen and appreciated. That said, here are a few ways customer service managers can show their employees they’re grateful for what they do.
Be Genuine and Specific
It’s easy for “employee appreciation” to become just another box to check. While broad team kudos and work anniversary callouts can foster a general sense of fellowship, such gestures wane in comparison to the power of personalized recognition. Did a rep exceed a conversion goal or single-handedly impact CSAT for the better? Call out their achievement in an email, handwritten note or public announcement (if they’re comfortable with it). Be as specific as possible and speak from the heart. (Employees can sniff our canned responses, so make sure your praise is genuine and “off script.”)
End-of-the-month accolades don’t pack the same punch as recognition that’s delivered promptly. If an employee demonstrates exceptional performance, make sure your gratitude strikes while the iron is hot. This not only encourages employees to “keep up the good work,” but it also demonstrates that you have a solid pulse on the team’s activities as well as personal accomplishments. The more customer service reps feel their achievements are “seen,” the more likely they are to deliver topnotch service.
Expand the Praise Pool
Manager recognition can go a long way, but it’s by no means the only way an organization can show its customer service reps that they’re valued and appreciated. Consider starting an employee recognition program that allows other team members to chime in when a rep makes a notable achievement or performs exceptionally well. Invite other reps, coaches and even senior-level managers to share their congratulations and gratitude. Just remember to keep it simple. (You’ll get better responses on a Teams thread or Kudoboard than through an elaborate internal process.)
Customer service reps spend most of their time interacting with customers, which leaves very little time for socializing with their peers. Organizing a social event can help reps feel more connected to the organization and to each other. It doesn’t have to be grand—a simple team lunch or virtual happy hour can do wonders for team morale. Plus, it offers an opportunity to celebrate individual wins in a team setting.
Focus on the Future
Personalized notes and other tokens of gratitude are great ways to make customer service reps feel valued. But to foster a deeper sense of engagement, it’s vital to tie an employee’s accomplishments back into their career path. When a manager takes an interest in a rep’s career trajectory, it shows that they care more about just getting the job done—it shows that they are invested in their employees and that they have a stake in their individual success.
Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance
This is often a challenge for fast-paced, high-stress jobs like customer service, but experts agree almost unanimously that enterprises must prioritize creating a healthy work-life balance for employees. According to research by Gallup and Workhuman, four in 10 U.S. employees say their job is negatively impacting their mental health, and fewer than one in four employees say their organization cares about their wellbeing. That’s bad news, not only for employee morale but also for performance and loyalty, which often suffer as a result. To encourage a healthier balance, some organizations offer incentives like wellness days, remote or hybrid working opportunities and flexible work hours. Technology can also help lessen the burden on overstretched workers by automating time-consuming—and mentally draining—manual tasks and streamlining taxing processes with guided workflows.
The Real Value of Employee Appreciation
Employee appreciation is about more than building morale and driving engagement. It’s a critical tool for motivating service reps during some of the busiest months of the year. The positive steps managers take now will have a lasting impact on employee performance, retention and much more.
But it’s important not to lose sight of what matters: employee experience. Creating a winning employee experience doesn’t start in November and end in December. It’s a year-round endeavor. It combines recognition and positive motivation with technical enablement and career empowerment. While gestures of appreciation do go a long way—particularly during the holiday months—they are infinitely more impactful when they’ve become ingrained within an organization’s culture. After all, when your reps are proud to work for your organization, that’s something to be truly thankful for.