Some background about this bonus scheme:

It is an inbound call centre environment where customers are called back by an external company to rate their experience on the previous call. Customers can select a rating from 1 to 6:

  1. Extremely Dissatisfied
  2. Very Dissatisfied
  3. Fairly Dissatisfied
  4. Fairly Satisfied
  5. Very Satisfied
  6. Extremely Satisfied

A five or six will score the advisor one point, everything else scores zero. The average at the end of the quarter must be between 91-100% to achieve bonus. The average full time member of staff receives 10 ratings per quarter.

Often the customer will mark dissatisfied because they disagree with an internal process, or they had a long wait time to get through. These reviews cannot be removed and it is up to the advisor to emphasise that the callback will be about their service on the phone and not about wait times or processes.

In fact the only time when a review can be appealed is if the customer mentions the advisors gender and it is incorrect or the advisors name and it is incorrect, this is because sometimes the callback does not occur the same day and the customer may have had multiple calls to the company in that time (the callback can only be triggered once every two weeks so really it would be about the first person in the chain of calls, however customers do not know this and if they do not mention a name or gender in their comments there is no hope of appeal).

Also for a bit of context, I have 9 reviews: 8 extremely satisfied, 1 fairly satisfied leaving me at 88.89%. Doing the math has shown me that it is not possible to make it back over the 91% in a quarter with just one "bad" review. Also my fairly satisfied review was due to the timescales related to sending out a piece of paperwork which are beyond my control, however I cannot appeal this and I am told that I should have stressed to the customer that the callback would be "about my service on the phone today". Also note even if I had made that statement appeal would not be possible.

What are your thoughts on the scheme I have described? What can I do if I want to complain about this?

From the information I have gathered so far, the bonus criteria is not set by the function head or the regional manager, so must be controlled by HR? I find this hard to believe as HR are so far removed from our business processes that they could not set the criteria, just feel like I'm being sent around in circles for bothering to ask questions!

  • 1
    Just because a customer said "Extremely satisfied" instead of "Very satisfied" it doesn't necessarily mean you're doing your job better. Still, if they award bonuses based on the amount of "positive adjectives" customers use when answering the feedback, what can you do? Is it a good way to measure performance? Maybe not, but it seems hard to call it unfair. And besides, if you complain about the system you're certainly not going to be doing yourself any favours. – Brandin Mar 8 '15 at 9:13
  • 4
    Sadly, with such an arbitrary and capricious "performance" system, you probably have to expect bonuses to be random, and judge your total compensation package ignoring the bonus. – Carson63000 Mar 8 '15 at 9:57
  • Unfortunately, the bottom line is always 'look for another job'. If you're valuable enough to go somewhere else and earn more: Do. If you're not, then you're left with whatever they do to you. – Sobrique Mar 8 '15 at 14:39
  • 10 ratings on average is far short of a good statistical sample. – paparazzo Mar 8 '15 at 18:19
  • possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid? – gnat Mar 8 '15 at 18:52

I don't think there's much you can do. The sales/call centre business is pretty cut-throat, with a high turnover of staff, which means bonus schemes which are difficult/impossible to earn are common.

You'll probably find it was designed this way, the economics of paying out too often are probably unsustainable.

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The bonus criteria are not set by HR. They're set by upper management. And I would presume that they have deliberately made the bonus available only for absolutely top performers.

As long as the rule is applied consistently across all employees, it is not "unfair".

You can try to be a top performer every time. Or you can accept that bonuses are rare by design, and treat them as occasional windfalls rather than expected income. Or you can change jobs; bonuses are rare everywhere, but maybe you can find a better base salary.

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