Summer is a slow time at a lot of companies, which is something support leaders should take advantage of. It’s a good opportunity to think about the high-level stuff we’re sometimes not able to fully focus on when things are busy. Stuff like: What’s the best way to motivate my team? How should I reward top performance? What place does competition have on my team?

To that end, I want to devote some time to unpacking this great question from the #leadership channel –

“What are your feelings about leaderboards in Support? For example tracking cases closed or CSAT scores with rewards for top achievers. I’m finding that the Customer Support teams I work with generally aren’t very competitive and leaderboards aren’t as effective as they are in other teams, like Sales. I’m thinking of keeping the leaderboard but switching to a more collaborative mentality, something along the lines of rewarding the team if the lowest achiever of the previous month can end the next month beating a (TBD) certain score generated from the last month’s team metrics.”

Here are few responses this SDer received from other leaders in the channel; I’ve bolded what I think are the key points in each response –

I think it’s always going to be a case of getting results along the lines of what you measure. I agree that support teams tend to be more collaborative than competitive. If that’s something you want to nurture, maybe looking at team goals for the leaderboard (non-leaderboard?) makes sense? Individual metrics definitely have their place too, but maybe more for like reviews and stuff.”

“I just got feedback from my team that they want to actively avoid competition. All tickets are not created equal (at least in our industry) and number of solved tickets / first reply time isn’t necessarily a great metric for someone’s success here. Collaboration is team building by default, where competition creates isolation and can be destructive to morale.”

“My experience has been, you usually have a small group of naturally-over-performing agents who compete really hard to win, but a much larger group of agents who know they won’t win and so they don’t even try…so you end up giving extra rewards to people who were already doing well while failing to motivate the target group you were trying to motivate. A more successful strategy is setting thresholds and rewarding all agents who exceed – that way it’s more of a competition against yourself and you’re incentivizing the entire group.”

This is all great advice, and it gave me a lot to think about. My take? Leaderboards don’t appeal to me – I think they tell a hopelessly incomplete story about how team members are really doing – but recognizing top performance does. My opinion is that every support leader should have a system in place that –

  • Regularly calls attention to high-quality customer conversations. The goal here is to publicly acknowledge the hard work individual team members are doing with customers.
  • Meaningfully rewards that hard work.
  • Provides an opportunity for other team members to learn about what “high-quality customer conversations” look like, so that everyone is building skills in this area.

Here’s how we do it: Every month, my team members nominate tickets for our What Good Looks Like (WGLL) program. Then, we each read over the nominated tickets and vote on which one wins WGLL for the month. We spend time at a team meeting reviewing the winner’s ticket and her response, talking about what makes it great, and celebrating the winner’s hard work. The winner also gets a small monetary bonus.

This works for us because it ticks all of the boxes I outlined in the bulleted list above without being punitive or fostering unhealthy competition. But what do you think? If you’re not in the community and would like to join in the conversations, please join us!