Telstra has decided it has to shed staff in order to be more competitive and profitable. The method chosen is to have each supervisor devise a testing method that will rate his/her people on a number of corporate and personal qualities - such as the level of customer service each person delivers. This is then distilled into a rating out of five, so that the supervisor can keep the best people and let the rest be re-deployed, or most likely, out-placed de-hired or whatever the latest term is.
This begs the question: won't many Telstra employees decide that they want to be offered the golden handshake; therefore, they'd better start giving pretty poor customer service so they'll be sure of getting a low score? In other words, it's all too easy for a scheme that is intended to improve your standing with customers to have the opposite effect.
I used to work for a US-owned company that had a sort of "employee-of-the-month" award where one employee who had exhibited outstanding effort was given a morning tea, an engraved Cross pen set and a glowing speech from the MD. That did wonders for the ego and morale of the recipient, but usually made ten other people bitter because they'd worked their guts out for the month, only to be passed over, AGAIN.
Likewise, some organisations reward their best sales people with . . . a higher target for the next sales period. And those managers who are able to get their expenses down in a period, are rewarded by having their expense budget decreased for the next period.
Incentive schemes go hand in hand with selling in this industry and will continue to do so until someone comes up with a better idea. After all, you'd hardly expect a sales person to earn less because they've made more money for the company. Yet the idea of rewarding the sales person alone ignores the total service picture. A properly served client is one who gets excellent pre- and post-sales support as well as the momentary warm glow when the order is signed.
Service is a company-wide thing. It comes as much from the backroom person who never has contact with the client as it does from the hotshot deal-closer.
An interesting exercise might be to ask every employee in your organisation how they add value to the relationship with your clients, and to think of three new ways they can do it, starting today.