Ken Juel joined TD Ameritrade in February 2006 as its first manager, incentive travel programs and events. The company had just launched two sales incentive programs. Spouses had to pay their own way and there was little in the way of planned activities. When Juel came on board, he quickly built a business case for including spouses and then began to build out the program content.

Four years later, the two trips have grown significantly and both of the four-night programs now include “town hall” meetings with executives, group receptions and dinners, and some planned group activities.

Motivating the Service Side
In 2009, Juel took on his next challenge, creating two incentive programs for service employees in three call centers: Forth Worth, Texas; London, Ontario; and Omaha, Neb. Customer service associates work in 10-person teams with one manager. One program was needed for associates and one for managers. The first challenge was to determine how the employees would qualify. “The service side is very complicated,” Juel says. “The trick is to manage the business needs of the organization with the qualification requirements, while motivating associates to meet or exceed clients’ needs as well.” So far, it’s done the job.

The new incentive programs have resulted in more interaction between service associates and sales associates, and revenue from referrals has increased dramatically. Qualification is based in part on those referrals—in other words, how many callers were referred to a salesperson and subsequently transacted a piece of business with TD Ameritrade. Two other measures are “availability”—how much is the employee engaged on the phone with a customer—and the customer service index, which is a ranking based on client surveys.

The first conferences were held back to back in December 2009 in two different New York City hotels. While the trip is primarily a reward, with one town hall–style meeting with executives, the company benefits from the networking that goes on among attendees. “They talk an amazing amount of business,” Juel says, “which reinforces the reason they are there.”

For 2010, Juel booked both groups into the same Miami property. In addition to smoother logistics, he gained negotiating leverage, which made the choice of that particular property workable for his budget.

Juel expects the service programs to grow to their targets (5 percent of managers and 15 percent of associates). And while he will keep a distinction between sales and service—“the bigger carrot should be on the sales side, so those trips are to destinations that are a little more upscale,” he says—he’ll still be faced with raising the bar on all of the programs. “We will keep trying to add elements but stay within budget.”