It’s a universal truism that, despite the best efforts of empathetic management, a significant percentage of Agent tasks in a contact center are repetitive, inflexible and can be a little boring. This is partly due to the nature of the work but it’s also an unintended result of the drive to increase efficiency. And, in an environment where staff costs represent up to 70% of total operating costs, it’s natural that contact center management should focus on ways to sweat that asset.
Rigid processes, tight Agent scripts and sophisticated performance measurement systems have indeed helped to raise contact center productivity and keep costs under control. But, in many cases, this has the negative effect of commoditizing the Agent’s work, making them feel undervalued and demotivated. Less of an individual, simply a small cog in a very large wheel. Good customer service has an important role to play in promoting a positive brand image yet conversely a disenfranchised team of Agents can damage it. Gamification helps to fix this problem.
Gamification is the application of game elements to a non-game context in order to engage users. More simply put, it takes the characteristics that we like about games i.e. competition, fun, teamwork, and reward and applies them to non-game activities such as working in a contact center.
Contact centers have traditionally used many of the elements associated with gamification as a way to engage and motivate staff. This includes incentive schemes, the publishing of performance metrics and competitions. However, formal adoption of the concept coupled with today’s online/digital technology has elevated the practice to a whole new level.
When used effectively, Gamification increases an Agent’s job satisfaction, improves performance and introduces an element of fun into the workplace. This has obvious advantages for the company they’re working for and is not merely an altruistic management objective.
There are many principles of gamification which can be applied to business activities in general and contact center tasks in particular. A good gamification program will review the challenges faced by contact center Agents, assess the organization’s business goals and then design a system takes account of both.Gamification provides instant feedback. Once an Agent has successfully completed a task, their achievement is recorded and recognized. It is also transparent. With gamification leader boards can be instantly updated so Agents can see exactly where they stand vis a vis their peers. Goals can also be publicized and updated accordingly on both an individual and team basis. The award of ‘badges’ provides Agents with non-monetary recognition of good work and achievement against set targets.
The use of gamification makes it easier and more fun to run competitions showing how individuals and teams are performing against each other. The use of Gamification wallboards helps to clearly illustrate everyone’s progress against agreed metrics so nobody should be in any doubt as to what is required of them.
To keep the competition at healthy level gamification can also encourage collaboration within teams to ensure the group can meet or exceed common goals. It can stimulate and reward the sharing of knowledge and demonstrate how an individual Agent is contributing to team success.
Training of new staff plus continual professional development (CPD) can also be enhanced via gamification particularly because of its online nature. With e-learning, Agents can be recognized and rewarded for successfully completing specific training modules and encouraged to continue further. The training can also be undertaken in a more flexible manner. Certain modules can be completed when Agents have free time or even during quiet periods when they’re at their work stations. This helps reduce training costs and puts the Agents in control of when and how they learn.
When used effectively gamification increases an Agent’s job satisfaction, improves performance and introduces an element of fun into the workplace. This has obvious advantages for the company they’re working for and is not merely an altruistic management objective.
An engaged, motivated and high performing Agent is likely to stay longer in their role – which reduces employee turnover and the costs associated with this issue. They’re also likely to have reduced instances of absenteeism – which reduces productivity and stretches other team members. Training can be delivered more effectively with gamification and, most importantly, an engaged, motivated and high performing Agent is likely to deliver a higher level of service to the customer. This, in turn, drives customer satisfaction and loyalty which has a positive impact on a company’s sales, brand image, and the bottom line.
Happy Agents equals happy customers. It’s a simple formula yet one that is extremely effective. And one in which gamification has a major role to play in solving the equation.