This month as we prepared to launch a sales motivation animation on our blog, we had many discussions about why people have been so down and what could be the antidote to their dissatisfaction.
So we asked ourselves, who are the most satisfied? It turns out, according to the Pew Research Center, business owners, retired Americans, students, and the professional class of educated professionals. Surprisingly, income was not the determining factor among this middle class universe. It appears that optimism and control are the keys to personal satisfaction.
A look at the Pew Social Trends site revealed two fascinating studies about human satisfaction.
“America’s Four Middle Classes” defies most social stereotypes of the Middle Class. The Top of the Class leads in income, education and optimism. The Struggling Middle has a lower income than those in who describe themselves on the lowest part of the economic ladder where the American Dream is more dream than reality. The Satisfied Middle is disproportionately young and old, has everything but money, and has a sunny outlook. And then there’s the Anxious Middle with the same economic, social and educational benchmarks as the Top of the Class, yet their outlook is bleak as they feel a lack of control. The variable that affects these groups to feel better about themselves is the ability to have control in their lives.
Another study about the self-employed, “Take this Job and Love It”, revealed that intangible psychological benefits were greater satisfaction drivers than those employed by others. Many behaviors contribute to this psychological lift, but the over arching factor is a belief they can exercise control over their lives.
Optimism. Looking at what can be done, instead of what can’t be done. Pulling your own strings defines satisfaction, and it’s in our control. We are in the incentive industry, so we know that only when a program is achievable and desirable will the audience be satisfied.
I just came across this recent study by Oxford Economics on the ROI of Business Travel. For the purposes of this study business travel includes sales trips, meetings, conventions, and incentive trips.
How many of you in the past year have experienced a cancelation of a key meeting or incentive trip whether it was in your own company or a client of yours? According to the Oxford Economics study the average business would forfeit 15% of its profits in the first year of eliminating meetings and incentives and recovery from that loss would take up to three years.
That is a significant profit loss. Is that percentage profit loss something your company or your clients can afford? Meetings and incentives can be essential to a company's profits and also enhance morale, job performance, and customer engagement. They recently became an easy cut in the short term to manage costs but are continually proven to be a solid long term investment.
Are your reward programs giving you a bad case of static cling when it comes to pricing?
As a consumer you can get information on the availability of desired products
at the right place, the right time, and for the right price. As a business professional, why not apply this concept to your merchandise reward programs with dynamic pricing.
Why be stuck to the static cling of Print and PDF reward catalogs. You want to be sure your programs have reward pricing flexibility and immediate availability of products. On-line reward redemption and dynamic pricing; reward prices that adjust in combination with point valuations will guarantee you fair market value for your reward offering.
Some rules on customer service…
A customer service agent in a call center has three core tasks to adhere to once they strap on their headset: answer the call, discuss the customer’s issues, and resolve them satisfactorily. How they execute these actions is what makes the difference in their job and the customer’s take away feeling of engagement from the experience.
Below are five call center agent customer engagement rules:
- Every person that calls is a blank canvas of impression. Their need may be specific, but how you make them feel is up to you. You’re the ambassador of your company but also of yourself, leave them with a positive experience, it will make you both feel good.
- This person has a life outside of their call. They have jobs, kids, a refrigerator on the fritz or a hangover left from their 10th year high school reunion the night before. So always remember that it is another human being on the other end of that phone just like you.
- People will scream. They’re going to want to let you know in 1,000 different ways why they were wronged and yell about what you need to do to make it right. When confronted with anger, make your tone soft, calm, steady and keep repeating that you will do all you can to help them. When they see you’re not rising to their anger level, they usually calm down and you’ll have a good feeling from diffusing the situation.
- Be yourself, but your nicest self. Paula Abdul didn’t act like a traditional judge on American Idol but she became popular and endearing by bringing her own spacey, quirky sweetness to the show. By bringing your own brand of humor and compassion to your job, you won’t feel like you left your true self at home, and this ensures that the caller and you can have an enjoyable connection while you’re taking care of them. Having daily pleasant and fun interactions is always a great incentive to show up for work the next day.
- This work doesn’t save lives but it is a service that makes a difference. When you successfully satisfy a caller the impression is long lasting. This means it’s good for your company and good for you, both professionally and personally.
So let’s face it, these rules can also apply to all our dealings. Be nice, be human, be calm, and create satisfying connections in all that you do. Now excuse me, I have a call coming in.
If you Google the word “boondoggle,” the first thing that
comes up is “do useless, wasteful or trivial work.” Interestingly enough,
Wikipedia says that the term first
appeared during the Great Depression in the 1930s, referring to the millions of
jobs given to unemployed men and women to try to get the economy moving again,
as part of the New Deal.
The fact is that the original “boondoggle” actually turned
out to be a very good thing.
So why are so many people referring to group travel,
meetings or incentives, as “boondoggles.” Do they mean that group travel is a
good thing? Was the government praising Wells Fargo when it accused them of
hosting a “boondoggle” in Las Vegas?
The original “boondoggle” created jobs that helped
kick-start our depression-riddled economy. The 2009 version, on the other hand,
is costing jobs. The whole travel industry is getting ravished due to program
cancellations due to a fear of being accused of a “boondoggle.”
What’s wrong with this picture.
The media has unfairly been characterizing incentives using
travel to nice places as evil, wrong, somehow anti-American, “rich people”
taking advantage of the “little people”. Nothing could be further from the
These incentive programs reward people when their
performance has generated incremental profits. They are not junkets; they are often
self-liquidating programs that are paid out of the resultant profits. The
participants are not privileged, they are demonstrated winners.
What other marketing programs only pay when measurable
profit goals have already been
achieved? What better way than to reward your best customers or employees after they’ve reached ambitious goals? Wouldn’t
you want to pay your highest performers in a tangible non-cash way where the
perception of the reward is so great that it costs less than the corresponding
cash bonus equivalent to create excitement and a feeling of accomplishment?
These are programs that pay; they don’t cost. That’s why so
many companies in sectors ranging from Pharmaceuticals to Financial Services to
Technology to even your air conditioning contractor actually use them; why it
is a $34 billion industry employing millions of people from airlines, hotels
and restaurants, transportation, entertainment and event planners; and why so
many of your and my neighbors have experienced them.
Having spent 25 years in the incentive industry, it has been
clear to me that most of these winners are not rich, cosseted elite. The winners
I’ve met are the hardworking people of America: plumbers, carpet and copier
store owners, pharmaceutical sales reps, customer service agents, computer and
software sales people, automobile sales and service employees from the local
dealership, Avon salespeople operating out of their homes, window fashion
dealers, insurance agents, small business owners, bank tellers and loan
officers, even TV and Radio and Print media customers and sales people. You
know, regular people, our neighbors.
People who work hard to achieve ambitious goals deserve rewards
and recognition for their accomplishments.
With the economy in a nosedive, with increased jobless
reports and fear so thick it has weight, I understand that incentive events look desirable or even excessive. But
that is the whole point of inventing desire, changing behavior. Some programs are excessive, stupid, ill-conceived
and poorly administered. But that is not the whole story, just the smallest
part of the story we’re being told. As the media inflame passions and ratings
with outrage, class warfare, and a hypocritical populist fervor, it is easy to
ignore the value of incentive events to the companies that sponsor them, the
winners who enjoy them and the people who make their living delivering them. This
human value chain drives a large part of our economy.
And most times when a CEO is coerced into cancelling an incentive
or recognition event, the unintended consequences are very real, in a very bad
way, to many people.
In the last 60 days one of the largest segments of our
service economy, hospitality and tourism, has immediately shed tens of
thousands of jobs in places like Florida, Nevada, California and New York as a
direct result of the hysteria that spending money to reward performance is a bad
practice. Latest projections show that almost a quarter million jobs in the hospitality
and tourism sector will be lost this year. Hundreds of thousands of winners
will have the contract they have with their employers or suppliers broken, even
though they did more than required in an extraordinarily difficult time.
Common sense and that quintessential American value, reward
for performance, should not be sacrificed on the altar of public opinion and a quarterly
Let’s not step over dimes to pick up nickels.