Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition

I guess I’m stuck on a customer service theme in my head. I seem to be attracted to articles and work that focus on the subject. It could simply be a residual affinity based on my recent experiences with customer service excellence. Nonetheless, recently I read a very interesting article in the Incentives Magazine (digital version at In the article MetLife uses peer recognition to promote better customer service.

Peer Review Critical

The article goes into the multi-year process of creating a culture to use recognition as a means to increase customer service. The “Best of the Best” program mentioned is a key to their success. There is an organizational role assigned to these types of programs.

“We really wanted it to be peer recognition in local offices, let local recognition champions create the program. It can’t be top-down.” says Marge Rody, the vice president of customer service operations

The article breaks down the tiers of the “Best of the Best” program:

The first is On the Spot, which Hayes-Brown describes as “your immediate recognition, your pat on the back, thank-you” from a manager or supervisor on a day-to-day basis.

Next is the more structured middle tier, known (perhaps somewhat confusingly) as “informal.” This is a Web-based system with a nomination process based around four corporate objectives. Nominations are vetted by each office’s committee of two to five volunteer recognition champions, generally on a monthly basis, and winners can choose a gift from an online catalog.

Finally, there’s the “formal” level, an annual selection of a few names from every business unit (up to five from the largest office) will be sent to Brennan’s corporate recognition committee, which will choose 33 winners—one percent of the 3,300 employees—to be recognized at the corporate level and travel to a ceremony hosted by the company’s president. This award is handed out by the recognition champions committee, overseen by the recognition chairperson. All of those nominated by their local recognition champions are honored, whether they are selected or not, Hayes-Brown says.

Your Action Plan

Let’s face it, it’s easy to find fault. You can search for customer service examples on the internet and you will find the majority are people venting on their recent bad experiences. With the exception of helping the PR and HR departments of these companies ‘locate opportunities for improvement’, nothing really comes of it.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Create an ‘instant recognition’ program – doesn’t have to be elaborate, maybe simply creating a goal that you hand out a ‘At-a-Boy’ each day to someone
  • Plan recognition into events – set aside time in your schedule or project plan to actually think about or review the past few days and determine who could be recognized.
  • Formal Incentive Goal: Create a budget that would include a gift/prize/incentive for someone who reaches a level of customer service. Maye incorporating the above two mentioned items as milestones to quantify the person’s level.

This is something that could easily be implemented in your family, work, church, or team. I hope this post has helped you. If you have any other ideas or comments, I would love to hear them.

Good Hunting.

See Also:

Customer Service Excellence Examples

Customer Experience Investment Opportunities


Leo Jakobson (September 2008). MetLife Rethinks Recognition. Incentive, 20-24

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  1. #1 by Andy Ridinger on October 17, 2008 - 1:53 pm

    These are some great insights into improving your customer service. I think the world is getting to a point where we need to expand and redefine customer service into customer experience management. Rather than trying to entice customers to be happy and share leads, why not proactively reach out to them to help them learn about your product or service, teach them how to get the most value, and check back every once in a while to share more tips and best practices. Not only will this wow your customers, but they will gain more value from their relationship with you and become “raving fans” that tell all their friends and colleagus without you even asking. We call this “white glove support” and while it works best with software applications, it can definately be adapted to almost any field. You’d probably be amazed at how far happy customers can take your business. andy[dot]ridinger[at]muralconsulting[dot]com

  2. #2 by Tim Rueb on October 17, 2008 - 6:08 pm

    @Andy – Thanks for the comment. I agreed. The article I read was talking about creating a culture that fostered a better customer (internal and external) experience through recognition. The end is the same though.

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