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Gamification Comes to the Contact Center
Game techniques keep agents happy, engaged, and better equipped to handle interactions.
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Behavior Platform, a suite of products that includes Game Mechanics for creating gamelike activities, Reputation Mechanics for promoting status in an online community, and Social Mechanics for using social networking techniques, into several of their CRM products. IBM is incorporating Badgeville into its Digital Marketing Network. Oracle announced at its OpenWorld user conference that it will make Badgeville available in the Oracle Cloud Network for Oracle Sales Cloud customers. Verint is incorporating Badgeville into its Impact 360 Workforce Optimization (WFO) software suite.

"Our customers are looking for more ways to engage a new generation of employees through collaboration to improve performance, compliance, and overall satisfaction," Chris Zaske, global vice president of enterprise workforce optimization at Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions, said in a statement. "By partnering with Badgeville, our customers can capitalize on the correlation between engaged, motivated, and high-performing employees and the delivery of better customer experiences and stronger sales results."

Roger Woolley, vice president of solutions marketing at Verint, says the contact center space is primed for gamification. ";The contact center has become mission control for many organizations that seek to put the customer experience at the center of their business strategy. This starts with employee engagement. Happy employees that have the right training and tools to help customers often lead directly to a positive customer experience and improved financial performance."

These latest Badgeville integrations follow earlier deals with Salesforce.com, Omniture, the Adobe Marketing Cloud, and Jive, among others.

Also in the fall, LevelEleven, another provider of enterprise gamification and CRM solutions, completed a $2 million venture funding round that it says will be used to scale the LevelEleven team to meet rising demand from customers, increase sales and marketing efforts, and further product development. Recent product enhancements for LevelEleven's flagship gamification platform, Compete, include real-time feedback, an updated user interface, newly designed leaderboards, and real-time breaking news bursts for LeaderTV. The company also recently announced a mobile application and strategic integration with several top cloud-computing providers.

The company currently has more than 85 customers, including Delta Airlines, OpenTable, Stanley/Black & Decker, and Concur.

Bunchball's business is also rising sharply, and the company has already signed partnership agreements with Salesforce.com, social business platform providers Jive and 7Summits, and NICE Systems, which now offers Bunchball's technology as part of its WFO suite.

Buchanan says gamification is "fundamentally about measuring performance and motivating improvement, and that aligns with what NICE is trying to do with its performance management and compensation management products."

Among Bunchball's larger customers are Adobe Systems, Cisco Systems, Hasbro, HP, T-Mobile, and Warner Bros.

T-Mobile is using Bunchball gamification to motivate its 30,000 customer care agents and retail store associates to make its online social business community the go-to destination for answering customer questions. Within two weeks of its deployment, more than 15,000 front-line employees completed an array of "Getting Started" missions. After six weeks, T-Mobile saw user participation in its T-Community increase by 1,000 percent and the number of "likes" assigned by employees to indicate a helpful response increase by 6,000 percent. T-Mobile awarded more than 187,000 achievement badges during that time.

T-Mobile's gamification effort "is taking off like wildfire," according to Krissy Espindola, director of knowledge management and social customer support at T-Mobile.

Because of gamification, "customers on the phone get the answers they need on the first call," Espindola says, noting that T-Mobile's first contact resolution rates and customer satisfaction scores continue to climb month after month.

These early adopters are just the tip of the iceberg for the technology, which has been around--at least in theory--for quite some time.

"There's a lot of pent-up desire for [gamification]," says Abe Smith, director of business development at Badgeville. "People get it. They know they have to reach their workforces in a different way."

But while gamification is finally starting to make its way into the mainstream, Buchanan knows all too well that he still has his work cut out for him. "Gamification is hot as a topic, but it makes some of our customers a bit anxious because it's new in the contact center and service operations space," he says. "The key thing that we've found is that by reinforcing it fundamentally as [a way] to motivate employees, they get it. A big thing companies are struggling with is delivering a better customer experience... . They need more engaged employees, and this is a critical way to do that."

What can be gamified?

Companies can use gamification to reward incremental improvements in productivity, such as answering a set number of calls in an hour, reducing average call handling time by a certain percentage, or resolving customer issues without having to escalate calls. They can also recognize employees for improving service quality, as evidenced through customer surveys administered after interactions with agents; for increasing their knowledge through training; for responding to complaints or questions that come in through social media or email channels within a set period of time; or for driving traffic to company knowledge bases or online portals.

Steve Sims, founder of the Badgeville Behavior Lab and vice president of solutions and design at Badgeville, points out that anything that can be measured in the contact center can also be gamified. "But you have to tell the agents what you want them to do and why," he cautions.

In the contact center, gamification can be applied to many things, "from entering information in the knowledge base to logging and handling more phone calls, chats, or email," Sims says. The most basic contests can involve reducing average call handling time, raising Net Promoter Scores, and increasing first-call resolutions, he adds.

"Contact centers have evolved a whole bunch of KPIs [key performance indicators] over the years--call duration, number of tickets solved, number of calls handled, reassigns, escalations. The list is practically endless," Bhaskaran says. He also points out that all 

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