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Amex lessons in employee engagement

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Do you know how hard it is to keep a low employee turnover rate at a call center? Pretty hard, apparently. In the United States, roughly half of call center employees quit within a year.

But at the American Express World Service Center in Florida, turnover is in the single digits for the 3,000-employee call center.

Not only that, but this team’s productivity measures are among the best in the call-center industry.

Senior vice president and general manager Doria Camaraza helps build that positive culture with a monthly meeting called “Tribute” that spotlights above-and-beyond employees.

High-energy music and dancing kick off the meeting, which takes the format of an Oprah interview. Guests being spotlighted sit with Camaraza while she tells the crowd how the employee lives the American Express values.

For example, at one meeting, she gushed over an employee who had helped a customer, who left home without his Amex card, find a hotel room. “That’s living our Blue Box value of customer commitment,” Camaraza said. “Sam has made a real difference in that customer’s life.” Then she presented him with an award.

Eight other employees received awards at that meeting.

This manager aims to do more with this awards meeting than put a few people on a pedestal. “Our people were working so hard,” says Camaraza. “We had to help folks relieve the stress of a very tough environment.”

— Adapted from All In, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.

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