Customer Service: The Value of Rewarding 'Above and Beyond' Behavior

You have a very negative experience with a customer service representative (CSR) in a situation of importance to you. How do you respond?

You have a very positive experience with a CSR in a situation of importance to you. How do you respond?

Perhaps it’s simply human nature. Regardless, many studies show a negative customer service experience is likely to be shared far more widely – and with more passion – than a positive experience. This reality serves as a potent warning for all customer-facing businesses.

When Expectations are Way Off

Often, if we’ve had a negative prior experience, we head into the next similar situation with low expectations for a positive experience.

What if – much to your surprise – rather than a negative experience, the experience is overwhelmingly positive? What if the CSR’s response exceeds your highest expectations? How do you respond?

I recently had occasion to witness a situation where a CSR relatively new to her position clearly went out of her way to help the customer with a specific issue. Due to complexity of the issue, multiple phone calls were required (both ways). The CSR also sent multiple emails to provide additional information and (via email) introduced the customer to someone with information and expertise beyond the CSR. She did this after calling the expert to provide them with the relevant background information and obtain their permission for the introduction.

Wow! The customer was very pleased to conclude the call with the potential for the situation to actually be resolved, and thrilled that someone with expertise on the subject had already agreed to take a call to discuss options.

Taking the Opportunity

The caller could have simply been incredibly pleased.

Since the call was addressing a very specific issue, and not made to a company friends and family were ever likely to contact, there wasn’t much opportunity to share the experience with others.

However, there were (at least) two worthwhile opportunities:

  • Send an email to the CSR stressing how the way she handled the call and the issue were extremely appreciated, and considerably beyond expectations.
  • Send an email to the director the CSR reports to. Specifically outline the situation and how well the CSR handled the situation well, mentioning actions that would be perceived positively by the direction, and also how the CSR had represented the company well.
  • Email Responses

    Clearly the CSR hadn’t received similar emails – at least not frequently. Her response:
    Wow, I am speechless right now. You have just paid me the HIGHEST compliment I could possibly receive! Thank you so much for this email, it truly means more to me than you could ever know. It has been a true pleasure and great learning experience for me to be able to assist you and hopefully find you a solution.

    The Director apparently also rarely receives such emails. Her response:
    What a breath of fresh air into my day. I am glad XXXXX has been good to work with, and I appreciate you taking the time to share the feedback. I will be sure to share it with her. I share your feelings regarding her attitude and work ethic, she is a pleasure to have on my team.


    Looking Forward

    While actual resolution to the issue was a multi-week, onerous task, the time it took to write these two emails was about 20 minutes.

    Similar efforts with employees throughout your company would likely also be extremely well received. Perhaps it’s worth making a habit of “catching people doing great work” in your organization – and encouraging the habit among your leadership team.

    Something to consider.

    Recalibrating Actions:

  • Evaluate how ‘stellar employees’ are rewarded – throughout the year – not just in annual performance reviews.
  • If not currently in place, establish a practice for managers at all levels to ‘catch people doing great work.” Share examples among the management/leadership team, and retain the information.
  • Recognize those employees with the most compelling positive work on a company-wide level periodically.
  • Consider putting a ‘catch someone doing a great job’ into practice personally.
  • Recalibrate Strategies

    Recalibrate Strategies help companies grow their business. We apply proven marketing systems to recalibrate their business and their brands by collaboratively creating a success blueprint. We facilitate a process that harnesses insights, generates new ideas and provides a strategic roadmap. Our founder and lead consultant has 30+ years of experience as a CEO, entrepreneur and marketing expert with exceptional leadership and facilitation skills.