Should agents receive incentives? On the surface, it’s a somewhat strange question because agents are people, and people like and respond to well-structured rewards systems, so why wouldn’t a company provide incentives to agents?

I personally think when people ask this question, they really have a different question in mind. One possibility is “Should agents receive incentives for just doing their jobs?” Another possibility is “Incentive plans are tough to structure right, a lot of work to administer and some agents will complain regardless, please don’t make me do it, are we really sure we need to do this?”

Regarding that first question, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to reward people just for showing up and doing the job they were hired to do. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Some call centers reward attendance and punctuality. Why? Because they have problems with attendance and punctuality. Incentives can be an effective way to correct behavior that is causing a business problem. So, yes, sometimes there are situations in which agents need to be rewarded for simply doing their jobs.

Regarding the second question, yes, incentive plans can be complicated and you’ll never please everyone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. Well designed rewards programs can improve business results and make agents more satisfied with their jobs. So the real question everyone should be asking is “how can we design our incentives so they provide maximum effectiveness?”

Unfortunately, that topic is meatier than this short article will allow. But there’s plenty of information available online.

What does warrant some discussion is how agent incentives are often handled in outsourced call centers. Vendor agents can receive an interesting mix of client-sponsored and vendor-sponsored rewards. Clients will often collaborate with their vendor partners to design and implement incentives for goals related to upselling, cross-selling, or, in the case of high dollar items, just flat out selling. These could be temporary programs designed to address something like a new product launch, or they could be ongoing. Typically, the client funds the incentive and may provide the data, while the vendor manages the implementation and maintenance of the program.

Vendor provided incentives are typically related to quality and operational results. And, yes, rewarding employees for coming to work also falls into this category. Sometimes vendors will implement an incentive program to correct something a client is concerned about, such as handle time. Other incentives may be in place just as a normal aspect of running the business. Many call centers embrace rewards programs because they’re fun for agents and an effective way to rev up business results.

So, to answer the original question – yes, agents should receive incentives!


USA800 has extensive experience designing creative and effective incentive programs. Contact us today to find out how we can help rev up your business results.