Agent Retention

Why You Need an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

What do ESPN,, and FabFitFun have in common? Each of these major brands has cultivated an impressive and loyal fan base, and it’s no coincidence that all three have also invested in developing employee rewards and recognition programs to boost their front-line customer service engagement.

As part of the company’s customer service team rewards program, FabFitFun agents can earn points for prizes and receive monthly bonuses and awards based on their customer ratings and QA scores. 

ESPN’s customer care operations department has a program in place to recognize CX team members who receive positive customer feedback in an internal monthly newsletter and the top performer of the month has the chance to earn cash prizes and other perks.

With an average customer rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars,, a part of the Walmart family, motivates its hundreds of service agents through real-time, agent-level feedback. And it’s a powerful loop that encourages team members to keep on doing what they do best—delivering positive service for their customers.

Companies across industries—from startups to global enterprises—are investing in customer service employee rewards and recognition programs, and here are the top three reasons why.

Why You Need an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

#1: Happy Customer Service Agents = Happy Customers

Employee engagement has been dubbed the “wonder drug” for customer satisfaction, according to Forbes. That’s because engaged employees are not only less likely to skip work, quit, and make mistakes on the job—they’re also more likely to contribute to improvements in customer service, team productivity, sales, and profits, according to dozens of studies that have examined the correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. 

It should come as no surprise then that companies that have earned a top reputation for their excellent customer service, as ranked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, have been recognized for both the quality of their products and services, and also for their warm, kind, and caring employees. And that customer interactions with employees are one of the top factors that impact customer satisfaction, according to the authors of Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization. Similarly, a 2018 report found that the main reasons customers switch to competing brands include not feeling appreciated and having to deal with rude and unhelpful employees.

Why You Need an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

#2: Engaged Agents Stick Around

With contact center agent attrition averaging between 30 to 45% and the cost of employee turnover adding up to anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per lost employee due to drops in both employee productivity and customer satisfaction as well as the cost of recruiting and training new replacement hires, according to McKinsey & Company, brands can’t afford not to keep agents engaged.

Especially when you consider that some of the most effective employee rewards—from shout-outs in team meetings to getting to sign off early on a Friday—cost next to nothing, if anything. 

Why You Need an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

#3: It Pays to Keep Employees Engaged

Greater profits, productivity, and longer term retention of both customers and employees, these are some of the ways companies that prioritize employee engagement benefit. According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, companies with employee recognition programs see a:

  • 63% increase in employee productivity
  • 61% increase in employee engagement
  • 57% return on profit margins
  • 52% increase in customer retention
  • 51% increase in employee retention

Why You Need an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

How to Build Your Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

With countless studies having found links between employee engagement and satisfaction and customer engagement and satisfaction, for brands that care about customer retention and customer lifetime value, it’s no longer a question of why you need an employee rewards and recognition program, but of how to set one up.

The good news is, there are small steps you can implement right away that can have a big impact. 

Whether it’s sending remote CX team members care packages, rewarding the top five agents who answer the most tickets with a longer lunch, or hosting a “kudos party”—where team members share 5-star survey responses and posts gifs and emoji in recognition of each other, there are lots of simple ways to integrate rewards and recognition into your CX team’s daily routine.

For even more ideas, check out our free Guide to Building a Rewards & Recognition Program to get advice on how to structure your rewards program, highlight the contributions of individual CX agents and the team as a whole, and tie employee rewards to customer feedback and QA scores.