Basing Employee Success on “Love Letters”

Ist2 1122296 Antique Love Letter
It is not uncommon for companies to decide what sort of bonus a customer service employee should get, whether they should get a promotion, or how well a customer service employee is doing based on the number of “love letters” received.

While I’m sure human resources uses a different term, the basic premise is the same: companies often value the number of specific positive remarks an employee gets from customers.

And they value it for good reason: when a customer goes out of his or her way to specifically acknowledge an employee in writing, it shows a lot about the customer service provided.

Using love letters to partially determine success of customer service employees is important because receiving positive letters is such a big deal. Even great customer service providers at great companies known for their customer service will not receive that many letters from customers about employees; customers don’t usually take the time to write. (Taking the time to write means a specific letter providing feedback that the company did not ask for – not a positive survey response or a comment card.) The fact that most customers don’t take the time to write is fine because it’s all relative.

If the average at your company is 1 letter for every 5 employees every month (thus 0.2 letters per employee per month) and one particular employee has received two letters in the last month (10 times the average!), that employee is obviously doing something right and deserves to be recognized.

Recognition for letters received should be both private and public:

  • The letter should be posted (and people told about it being posted). 
  • The employee should have a one-on-one meeting with his or her supervisor to go over the particular experience (this way, the manager can learn about what the employee did that made him or her so successful).
  • The employee should receive a small bonus or similar recognition (maybe a gift certificate for dinner). The item doesn’t have to have a significant value – anything is better than nothing and the employee will surely appreciate it.
  • Many companies ask their best performing employees to host mini-training seminars and/or work with the actual trainers to develop a curriculum that teaches employees the best practices they need to know for providing great customer service. This is a great idea and works across most departments, companies, and industries.

The most important factor is to make receiving love letters a big deal. While they shouldn’t be the only measure of an employee’s success, lover letters should be at least one measure and they  should most certainly matter.