Positive Psychology: How Frontline Recognition Leads to Better CX

AskNicely Team

Frontline recognition puts fuel in your business’s ignition. Service brands are powered by people, and if those customer-facing people feel underappreciated and undervalued for their work, then the customer experience that they deliver will suffer. Alternatively, if you fuel your teams with daily doses of genuine recognition and positive reinforcement, they’re not only going to be happier employees (which is enough in itself) but they will in turn create happy customers. 

Positive Psychology: A Crash Course 

Positive psychology is the study of what makes life worth living. Eat, sleep, repeat makes for a fun t-shirt slogan but it doesn’t spark much long-term fulfillment. Instead of focusing on what’s “wrong”, positive psychology looks at what’s “right”. It’s all about using positive reinforcement, recognition and rewards, rather than negative reinforcement and punishments. Using positive psychology, managers can boost morale, motivation and productivity, all of which positively impact the customer experience. In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association found that 93% of employees who felt valued were more motivated to do their best work. 

One of the most effective ways to apply positive psychology to improve your customer experience is by focussing on recognition. When you catch employees doing things right, big or small, and say “Hey, that was totally awesome. Thank you for going the extra mile for that customer”, you start to build a team who feel seen and valued, and therefore become invested in delivering great experiences to their customers and reaching their goals. 

Using Customer Feedback for Recognition

If you have just a handful of employees, making time to recognize and reward each team member for good work when it happens is fairly manageable. But when you scale that team to hundreds, or even thousands of employees – it becomes tricky for managers to not only catch people doing things right, but to give praise, shoutout team members and truly make them feel appreciated and recognized. There’s only so many “good jobs!” a manager can dish out before sounding like a broken record. 

That’s where customer feedback comes in. 

Connecting teams with praise from customers is one of the most impactful, and scalable ways to show recognition and appreciation for teams. Customer praise is arguably more genuine, relevant and timely than any other form of recognition in the workplace. 

By making frontline recognition a center piece of your customer experience strategy, (particularly when using customer feedback as the source of recognition) you simultaneously: 

Create a Customer-Obsessed Culture

When employees are recognized and rewarded for delivering an awesome customer experience, a little dopamine high is sparked. People do value my work. I do have an impact. I can make, or break a customer’s day. This feeling should not be underrated. When you recognize customer-facing teams and connect them to their impact on the customer experience, they’re more likely to become invested and are more likely to repeat previously recognized behavior. They actually start to care about what customer’s think and want to deliver a service that results in more praise, more appreciation, more dopamine. At scale, this creates a culture where employees go above and beyond to put the customer first – an essential mindset for customer experience success. 

Case in point? Lendmark, a financial services company with over 2,000 employees that serve 400,000 customers annually. Before prioritizing frontline recognition, Lendmark employees didn’t know what an awesome customer experience looked like. Awesome to one employee was average to another.  After the implementation of a frontline recognition program, employees knew what success looked like and could be rewarded accordingly. This reinforced positive behaviors and when customer satisfaction became equated with workplace success, it made the Lendmark team united in their quest to provide awesome CX.  

Spark Innovation 

Recognition creates care (I want to be my best self at work). And care creates innovation (I wonder how this could be improved?). When employees feel recognized for their work, their ability to be creative, think on their feet and solve problems skyrockets. When customers run into inevitable hiccups along their journey, you need a team who can think outside the box to provide an awesome experience, no matter the circumstances. In a fast-paced environment, being dynamic and creative are vital to success. 

Recognized employees are also more likely to think about the ways in which things can be improved or optimized. Oftentimes, managers and executives make guesses from the boardroom about how they can improve the customer experience. Yet, their frontline teams know their customers better than anyone else in the organization. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to share suggestions and collaborate with their teams than those who feel undervalued and underappreciated – in their eyes, what’s the point? 

Frontline recognition guides sparks of innovation. It gives employees the confidence to make decisions that are good for the customer experience, and helps them understand what behaviors and actions work and what doesn’t. 

Ignites Purpose & Positivity 

Frontline recognition ignites a sense of passion, purpose and positivity on an individual and team level. Without daily doses of recognition, it’s easy for employees to lose sight of the impact they're making, and the high you get from doing your best. 

Yvette Mihelic, Director of Customer Experience at John Holland, has managed to ignite passion in every one of her workers in the public transport sector. She believes that recognition influences how employees act and what they value, and what they define as success and as failure. John Holland uses a peer and customer feedback-driven recognition program to measure success. This way, employees can see the direct impact they have on customers in real-time. This has culminated in yearly decreases in customer complaints – up to eighteen percent! As well as increased employee retention and annual revenue improvements.  

So, don’t kill the mood, enrich it with positivity and praise. When employees show up to work every day in an environment where they feel valued, they ripple their high vibe to those around them, including peers and customers. 

Gratitude Leads to Greatness 

When we experience gratitude, it inspires us to do better and be better.  Recognition doesn’t need to be overly-complicated. It’s about catching people doing things right, providing genuine, relevant praise and reminding employees of their impact and worth. When you can do this at scale, you create a happier, accountable and more productive team who are all on board to reach your customer experience goals. 

Need more inspo? Up Next: Fresh Ideas to Coach & Recognize Your Frontline Teams

AskNicely Team
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AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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