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Does eating a few grapes warrant a reward?

My daughter is a picky eater, but what toddler isn’t? Her eating habits have caused some disagreement between my husband and me – he suggests a reward any time she eats even a little bit of her dinner, while I think a reward should be reserved for those times when she does something out of the ordinary, like asks for more because she enjoyed the meal.  

This got me thinking about the similarities between my situation and customer feedback programs. How should we tie customer feedback to rewards for team members? Is it best to keep motivation high by rewarding even the small successes, like improvement over the previous period, even though scores are only mediocre, or do you reserve the reward for outstanding performance, such as reaching a “best in class” goal? I think it depends.

Most sources cite a few key components of effective reward systems:

·         Make it timely

·         Be creative

·         Match the reward to the interests and goals of the recipient

·         Ensure the rewards align with the current state of the organization

On the last point, if an organization is currently receiving moderate scores from customers, it would be silly to promise a reward only when scores exceeded best in class comparisons. The goal seems unattainable, and motivation would evaporate. On the other hand, if the same organization set the goal at 3-4% improvement year-over-year, team members could get behind this goal and work together to achieve it. It is critical to understand the current state and what is realistically achievable before you develop a rewards system.

Back to the situation with my daughter: because I know she is capable of eating a whole meal, I think rewarding her for “above and beyond” behavior is entirely realistic and attainable. Plus, since I’m the one making dinner every night, I think it’s only fair that I get the final say… right??

Marla Mast
Senior Analyst

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Walker Weekly

Walker is a consulting firm specializing in customer experience. Helping businesses for more than 75 years, Walker’s diverse team of consultants provides tailored, comprehensive solutions to help companies achieve their business objectives and grow shareholder value. Walker specializes in customer retention and growth, using predictive analytics and other innovative approaches. Walker works with some of the world’s most influential businesses as well as emerging organizations of all sizes. For more information, please visit

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