CBA to spend millions rewarding staff: Can you buy loyalty?

The Commonwealth Bank has taken the unusual step of rewarding its staff with $250 each for their role in boosting the bank’s customer service rating to number one of the big four.

CBA chief executive Ian Narev announced the gift yesterday in a staff email, although one business expert has told SmartCompany businesses looking to emulate the idea don’t have to focus on money.

Our HR Company managing director Margaret Harrison told SmartCompany rewarding the staff with gift cards was a “fantastic idea”.

Harrison says money doesn’t have to be the reward.

“Sometimes money isn’t the only reward. Some staff members may have preferred a day off or being able to finish earlier. Putting a monetary value on a gift is a funny way of doing it,” she says.

A copy of the Commonwealth Bank email was obtained by The Australian Financial Review and the email read:

“Since we reached our goal to be number one in customer satisfaction across all areas of our business back in February, the level of enthusiasm and passion to maintain our position has been outstanding.”

“The leadership team and I greatly appreciate this unwavering focus on our customers and would like to say thank you.”

A company report last year stated the bank employed 51,000 people across Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region and approximately 38,000 of these staff are in Australia. On these figures, the gift cards could cost the bank up to $9.5 million.
A CBA spokesperson confirmed this initiative to SmartCompany and said all eligible staff would receive the gift cards.

“The Commonwealth Bank thinks it’s important to award and recognise staff and we’ll continue to do so appropriately,” the spokesperson says.

CBA has implemented a series of customer service changes dating back to 2007 in order to achieve this goal, under the direction of former chief executive Ralph Norris.

In February this year it achieved this goal, as Roy Morgan Research ranked the Commonwealth Bank highest in terms of customer satisfaction.

Harrison says the key to good customer service is communicating with staff members and letting them know they’re of value to the organisation.

“Let people know their job contributes to the greater good of the company. Let them know where they sit and where the company is headed.

“You need to get people together and tell them where the company is going and why. It’s also very rare managers say please and thank you, but you’ve got to make people feel valued within the organisation.”

When rewarding staff, Harrison says the staff members need to have gone “over and above what’s expected”.

“Just doing your job and turning up isn’t enough, but if they’ve worked as a team and taken the target seriously, it’s a wonderful thing to reward people and you end up getting 10 times back,” she says.

Customer service, Harrison says, is also often undervalued, but for a business to be competitive this is a fundamental area of importance.

“A person who’s experienced bad customer service will tell 10 people, but if they’ve had a good experience, they’ll tell only one or two,” she says.



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.