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Article : What Are The Best Ways To Motivate Agents?

The rate of attrition is usually listed as a top problem in contact centers. Not only is training new recruits expensive, but the loss of experienced agents is also detrimental. Why do agents leave? Most list a lack of motivation for the job as a primary reason. Industry professionals share with us some of their motivating techniques.

Janet Lum
B.C. Government

"Offer a variety of work - possibly answering email (give them a break from the customer calls), give them training responsibilities (bring other depts in to understand how everything the org does affects the end customer calls that come in - have the other depts listen in on the calls), let them contribute to updating scripts."

Christine Corelli
Christine Corelli & Associates Inc.
United States

"1. Dynamic leadership: Make people feel they are working with you and not for you.
2. Employee Involvement: Ask every employee to write specific ways to demonstrate core values. Honesty, integrity, teamwork, continuous improvement, health, safety, family, accountability, environment, respect, excellence. Again, involve them in writing specific ways to demonstrate your values. Obtain agreement on what they should be accountable for. Create "guiding-principles" on how every call center professional will treat customers and each other. Have every employee sign it, and update it Quarterly.
3. Treat them like "family," reward, and recognize them."

Alex Demczak
MUG Enterprise
United States

"Money, Cash, Dollars! I conducted a study on this a few years back, agents don't want pizza parties or (dumb) contests they want incentives that respect what they do."
About MUG Enterprise

MUG Enterprise: Managing the Space Between You and Your Customers When it comes to selecting call center consultants what should you choose? One with system and product experience? Operational and... (read more)
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Christopher DeVany
Pinnacle Performance Improvement Worldwide
United States

"1, 2 and 3. Involve your agents in the development of incentives. As Dr. Robert Mager once wrote, "When you ask or invite someone to help you understand and analyze the problem, they are highly likely to remain with you to participate in the solution.""
About Pinnacle Performance Improvement Worldwide

Since 1994, Pinnacle Performance Improvement Worldwide has been helping organizations to improve performance, with a focus on management and organization development.
Hennie Lange
Operations Manager
South Africa

"Agents are caught between the customer and their supervisors, with both expecting results. The most important aspect influencing the agent's ability to satisfy both, is the system the agent is required to use in the process. Improving the usability and empowering agents through systems has the single biggest impact on their morale. Time off is, in some instances more powerful than financial reward, but is closely followed by financial reward. Utilising all of the agents' strengths in business gives them a higher degree of job satisfaction because they feel appreciated as an individual and that the company recognises their value."
About Sanlam

Sanlam was established in 1918 and is a leading financial services group in South Africa. It demutualised in 1998 and is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in Johannesburg and on the Namibian Stock... (read more)
Tammy Self
Allstate Insurance
United States

"Our biggest motivators are coupons for unscheduled time off and food."
About Allstate Insurance

The Allstate Corporation is a large publicly held personal lines insurer in the United States. Allstate was founded in 1931 as part of Sears, Roebuck and Co., and was spun off in 1993.
John Gelmini
Telephone And E Mail Strategy Manager
Essex County Council
United Kingdom

"Motivating agents is best achieved by creating a supportive environment and using sound telephony, technology, software, working practices, natural light, feng shui principles, intelligent workspace design, ionisation, scent technology and variety of work as an aid to mental and emotional stimulation. Above all they need to believe in the organisation they are working for and the people they work under. Agents need to feel that even in a flat organisational structure they can move on to other parts of the organisation or elsewhere through becoming marketable."
About Essex County Council

Essex County Council is the county council that governs the non-metropolitan county of Essex in England. It has 75 councillors, elected from 70 divisions, and is currently controlled by the Conservati... (read more)
David Oldham
Vice President, Marketing
NICE inContact
United States

"The at-home option is a big draw for many agents, giving them a 10-15% effective raise while reducing operating costs for the contact center. Rewarding great behavior is critical as well… this requires a system that can record/measure/and deliver customer feedback in real-time to the agent so they can adjust their behavior accordingly to optimize the customer experience. Rewards do not always need to be monetary and often can be as simple as "public" (within the company) recognition."
About NICE inContact

NICE inContact CXone™ is a unified cloud customer experience platform. CXone combines Omnichannel Routing, Workforce Optimization, Analytics, Automation and Artificial Intelligence on an Open Cloud Fo... (read more)
Dan Collins
TMP Direct
United States

"Give them the tools and information to do their job and solve problems. Empower them with incentive programs they can control through individual achievement. Train them properly. Support them, praise them, celebrate acheivements"
About TMP Direct

TMP Direct is a service provider with specialities in Customer Retention and Customer Acquisition supported by Inbound and Outbound Contact Center Services, Fulfilment Services, POS Distribution Servi... (read more)
Christi Graybill
Customer Service Manager
United States

"Celebrate every success publicly - make a big deal when they receive a kudo or make a great sale. Empower agents by giving them the tools, knowledge and power to make informed decisions. Keep it light. Create an environment where it is fun to come to work. It truly helps on stressful, high call volume days."

Andrew Peel
Service Delivery Manager

"- Individualised recognition.
- Celebrate success.
- Develop their skills and provide them with a clear career path."
About Datacom

Datacom is one of the largest Technology Service Company's in Australasia region. We have a 40 year history specialize in delivering a brand customer experience for leading global Technology companies... (read more)
Robert Hill
Team Leader
Queensland Police Service

"Same as most employees – pay them well, give them constructive and quality feedback but most importantly help them to balance their family and personal requirements with work."
About Queensland Police Service

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is the law enforcement agency responsible for policing the Australian state of Queensland. In 1990, the Queensland Police Force was officially renamed the Queenslan... (read more)
Ross Broussard
Call Center - Manager
United States

"Money. Recognition. Poker tournaments."

Hari Raghunathan
Sr. Manager, Operations

"· Short term monetary gains - Launch on the floor daily incentives.
· Long term monetary gains - Have an aggressive quarterly incentive plan.
· Daily Gains - Give time off if people hit targets well in advance.
· Fire the non-performers - Acts as a motivator to people who perform."

Daniel Deschamps
Technical Operation Manager, Global Call Centre Operations
Toshiba of Canada Limited

"In any contact center, there needs to be a great relationship between the front line and management. Agents need to be recognized for efforts well done, and supported even in the toughest situations. Far too many customers never think twice about saying someone should be fired because they never received what they wanted, yet an agent was only following the scripts. Look to non-monetary rewards and team building events. Pot luck lunches occasionally are a great idea; everyone can bring in their own special dish, some planning is required to keep a balance from main courses, salads and sweets. Try occasional contests where questions are relating to processes, procedures and knowledge about the company. Rewards can be simple items like t-shirts, and other small items."
About Toshiba of Canada Limited

Toshiba BCD is a provider of business communications solutions. It offers a comprehensive portfolio of communication systems and applications that enable customers to enhance customer relationships, d... (read more)
Annette Ferrell
Vice President, Community Bank
The Columbia Bank
United States

"The best way to motivate agents is to ask them what motivates them. You may be surprised to find that not all motivation comes in monetary form. In my experience, the most successful motivators are those that demonstrate that managers want and appreciate the employees’ opinion and insight. When opportunities arise to provide project support, identify and implement changes for work flow efficiency, and address customer service concerns, ask for involvement from high-performing agents who manage the daily tasks. Employees will begin to recognize and feel that they are trusted and empowered to make contributions to achieve overall strategic goals and objectives.

Another motivator is ongoing discussions with your employees about career paths and direction. When managers show an interest in an employees’ career ascent and take an active role in understanding their objectives and provide them with opportunities to develop skills that prepare them for next steps you are also demonstrating your commitment to their success. This can be greater success within the contact center or movement elsewhere within the organization.

Finally, offer frequent outward praise. Saying thank you for a job well done is a simple task that gets a lot of mileage."
About The Columbia Bank

The Small Business Banking division was formed to provide resources to companies up to $3 million in revenues or less.
Ken Persson
Nordic Homesourcing AB

"1. Let them work from home
2. Recognise the individual"

Nancy Massey
Director, Client Services
Yellow Pages Group

"My method of motivation is through open communication. The sharing of past achievements and upcoming strategies is what keeps them engaged. They are the customers’ voice and because of that, it is imperative to keep them informed of all developments whether it is good or bad. Listening closely to their feedback and making them part of the solution. It provides a sense of partnership."
About Yellow Pages Group

Yellow Pages Group (YPG) is a Canadian directory publisher. YPG published its first directory in 1908.
Tara Smith
Senior Manager, Call Center Operations
American Academy of Dermatology
United States

"I have a CSR of the month and that person: 1) chooses the next recipient and 2) is allowed to skip the job board for that month. I pair that up with a $25 gift card. Also, creating ladders within the job would allow for movement in the center without breaking your budget."

Brian Charles
Manager Centralised Sales
Barbados National Bank

"- Spontaneous and continuous incentives.
- Public recognition, via the media and/or internal newsletters."

Stephen Diss
Call Center - Operations Manager
Fisher & Paykel
New Zealand

"I work on the three F's - Fun, Flexibility and ....Food. Giving consultants rewards for excellence, acknowledgement for a job well done and recognition for going above and beyond. The environment the team operates in can be very negative, so we put a big emphasis on sharing experiences, customer bouquets and striving to make every call fresh and new. It's a big challenge as I think a lot of customers treat call centre staff appallingly. They can bully consultants and be very aggressive and think that's okay because "the customer is always right.""
About Fisher & Paykel

The Fisher & Paykel Finance Group is a member of Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings. For over 30 years the business has grown and developed as an established provider of financial services offering... (read more)
Yuval Bauman
Project Manager
United States

"I) Motivate them by providing a pre-measured known matrix results allow them to improve score each month
II) BONUS for meeting the CC standards
III) Carrier path known in advance based on agent performance (Agent, Team leader, supervisor etc.)"
About FTS

FTS is a provider of Billing, CRM and Business Control solutions for communications and content service providers. By analyzing events from a business standpoint rather than just billing them, FTS all... (read more)
Patrick Louis
Senior Director Customer Experience Global
Canada Goose

"1) Involve them in decision processes.
2) Be in the "trenches" with your people and the numbers will take care of themselves - spend quality time.
3) Fair bonus program."
About Canada Goose

Founded in a small warehouse in Toronto almost sixty years ago, Canada Goose has grown into one of the world's leading makers of luxury apparel.Every Canada Goose product is designed with purpose and... (read more)
Suzanne Howe
Call Center Director
Kentucky Retirement Systems
United States

"· Recognize their efforts specifically.
· Encourage friendly competition and some fun in the day.
· Educate them on the business "big picture", making sure they understand the importance of the role they play."

Michael Muldoon
Customer Service Manager

"Ask them what motivates them. There is no single right answer, no tricks. Treat people with respect and you get an engaged team."
About Diageo

Diageo is a premium drinks business offering spirits, wine and beer.
Attilio Dalvit
Technology Implementation Manager
Europ Assistance
South Africa

"a) Enable the top performers to choose their incentives - choose shifts, parking and other benefits.
b) Visible and fun events to boost the performers and acknowledge their performance.
c) Easy competitions and manageable targets and results is essential."
About Europ Assistance

Global Providers in Assistance Services
Clive Longbottom
Service Director
United Kingdom

"KPIs should be based on success - not on numbers. An agent who spends 5 minutes per call more than others, but has a customer satisfaction rate a couple of points higher than the others should be congratulated and recognised for what they do - not told off because their hourly call rate is less than everyone else. Give variation - for agents who have the capability, rotating them around inbound and outbound calls can give the variation that keeps the job interesting. Accept where the skills start and stop - use skills routing to make the most out of the agents. Accept that some agents are best suited as first line agents - their capabilities are in being friendly and talking to customers, and covering the very common issues brought to the fore. Others may have second line skills in dealing with less common issues, and then there will be third line agents whose personal skills may not be the hottest around, but their domain expertise is the best around. By enabling agents to easily pass on a call through the various levels - without the need for the customer to repeat too much information - everyone can be kept happier."
About Quocirca

Quocirca provides industry research and analysis services, along with marketing collateral and strategic services to ITC vendors worldwide.
Chiaki Hishinuma
Professor Emeritus
Tokyo University of Technology

"- Flexible work scheduling to meet agents' wants is effective for reducing turnover.
- Commendation for agents achievements."
About Tokyo University of Technology

Tokyo University of Technology is a private university in Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan. The predecessor of the school was founded in May 1947. After becoming a vocational school in 1953, it was chartered as... (read more)
Vesna Ivanis-Luksa
Call Center Manager

"- give your agents information to understand bigger picture and to feel as a part of community, explain them their contribution and their place in big picture - talk with them, individually or in a smaller groups, not always only about a job but also about their private life, their children, hobbies etc., let them know that you are treating each of them as a person - talk whenever you have the opportunity to talk with your agents - during official meeting, during lunch breaks, coffee breaks, .... - give them feedback positive and/or negative immediately (if it is possible) - listen what your agents have to tell you - their ideas and proposals very often are the best one in a way how to improve some procedures and increase customers satisfaction"
About A1

VIPnet is the first private mobile network operator in Croatia. It has been operating a GSM network since July 1999.
Arnob Bhattacharya
Lead Consultant

"Create a sense of ownership. The more the agent believes in the organization and owns the 'work' the lesser he/she will hold the organization responsible for faults. It's proactive and takes lesser investment to have a employee curing the fault than to loose the fault finder and place another in the faulty position."
About HCL

HCL Enterprise is a 32-year-old Global Technology and IT enterprise, with operations spanning 23 countries. The 3-decade-old enterprise, founded in 1976, is one of India's original IT garage startups.... (read more)
Steve Trifelos
Director, Strategic Partnerships
ITM Marketing, Inc.
United States

"1. Create an environement where agents feel they are valued and respected and they understand what kind of environment you are trying to create. Management methods, awards, recognition, consistency, etc.
2. If administered correctly, contests can be extremely effective for motivating agents."
About ITM Marketing, Inc.

ITM Marketing, Inc. is an experienced, multifaceted teleservices company located in Coshocton, Ohio, dedicated to delivering customized, value-driven solutions for your company's telemarketing needs.... (read more)
Alaa El-Daly
IT Manager

"Monetary rewards are the most important tool for motivation, yet having a comfortable atmosphere and good work space also affect the motivation for the agents."

Jackie Ready
United States

"My way is to be involved with the staff daily no matter what position you are in. I am the director and my staff feel like they can come to me with even the smallest of questions because if it wasn't for them then we wouldn't have a job. Always making them feel appreciated and what they do means something."
About McKesson

McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 11th on the FORTUNE 500, is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to making the business of healthcare run better. McKesson partners... (read more)
Craig Bonfield
Backline Support Manager

"Within my team, I always keep them informed and lead by example. I impress upon them the work that is required, but we have fun with it. If your team laughs at work, then you know they are having fun. When they stop laughing, something could be wrong. Regular 1-on-1's with the team also help. They then know where they are with regard to their goals, what needs to be done to achieve them. I've had positive feedback, with regard to the meetings. As they know where they are each month and what needs to be done. There is no shock at the end of the year when a focal review is conducted. Weekly meetings with the team - we go over any issues and do a case review. This is where we share information on how cases were resolved and discuss any conflicts with customers or other departments. We have monthly drinks, where the whole building (mostly tech support) can relax and mingle with other staff."
About Symantec

Symantec is a maker of security software, and one of the largest software companies in the world.
Kevin Milewski
Product Marketing Manager
United States

"Bonuses and advancement opportunity for younger agents. Flexibility and security with older agents."

John Torres
Sr. Vice President
American Stock Transfer & Trust
United States

"Some of our most effective motivational tactics include: flexibility (work and schedule), additional responsibilities, enhancement training and taking a personal interest in their development. Everyone wants money but it does not have "staying power.""
About American Stock Transfer & Trust

American Stock Transfer and Trust Company is a large independent stock transfer agent in the United States.
Marc Bellavia
Manager, Direct Sales
United States

"- Promotion schedule/career paths - its not where you are but where you're going. If an agent doesn't care where he or she is going, chances are they are not able to be motivated.
- Flexible work schedules - if working from home isn't possible, working alternate schedules to accommodate life's busy challenges while perhaps avoiding traffic and the costs of gasoline while sitting idle on the interstate is a motivator."
About Sage

Sage is a FTSE 100 company in the North East. Even though we've become a global company, we're still rooted in the North East, with our head quarters in Newcastle where around 1,500 of our people work... (read more)
Simon Gamble
Call Center Consultant
United Kingdom

"1. treat then like humans and not battery chickens,
2. set realistic targets and provide rewards for quality service,
3. variety of work."
About Capita

Outsourcing - delivering measurable benefits to our clients What we bring our customers: Inspired productive people Streamlined administration processes Effective ICT Innovation Improved c... (read more)
David Sawicki
Voice Teleservices
United States

"Set realistic goals for agents and provide feedback versus goals on a daily basis. Publicly recognize high performers and most improved. Cash is king for incentives."

Telesa Wilson-Finney
Correspondence Supervisor
United States

"Reward them for exceeding expectations. Don't underestimate the power of more money (bonuses), despite what surveys say. Be fair- always and in all things. Provide public recognition."
About Xerox

Xerox Corporation is a fortune 500 global document management company (founded in 1906) which manufactures and sells a range of color and black-and-white printers, multifunction systems, photo copiers... (read more)

About ContactCenterWorld:
Company LogoContactCenterWorld is The Global Association for Contact Center & Customer Engagement Best Practices. Today we have over 205,000 corporate 'individual' members have joined the association's website ''. We were established in 1999.
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Today's Tip of the Day - The Name Game

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Friday, July 17, 2009

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