With Gamification, Contact Centers Can Be Fun
Peer competition is also common in the contact center, pitting employees against one another in friendly challenges. Team competition pits different departments or locations against each other in a similar way.
Companies have many metrics for measuring shift, department, and company performance. Managers often use graphic displays to make everyone aware of where they stand. Recognizing top performers has been typical; a department “Employee of the Month” award is one long-standing tradition.
Increasingly, companies are giving employees a voice in setting their own goals, objectives, metrics, and rewards. Traditional suggestion boxes for that are being replaced by social media comment boards.
A LOOK AT THE SUCCESS FACTORS
Gamification programs succeed or fail for various reasons. First, companies need to be careful when establishing their metrics. They must make sure that requirements are clearly articulated so there is no doubt what is needed to reach a goal. “Gamification works best when it is tied to existing business processes,” explains Gal Rimon, founder and CEO of workforce performance management solutions provider Centrical (formerly known as GamEffective).
Companies then need to set achievable performance metrics. The end point must be challenging but not overwhelming, which requires a delicate balancing act. If a goal is too high, only top performers will be engaged. Lower-performing and less-experienced agents might assume they have no chance of winning and quickly opt out. Conversely, if the goal is too rudimentary, seasoned employees might feel patronized.
And then the entire process needs to be clear. Employees need to know exactly which objectives, rewards, actions, and prizes are at stake, what help is available to help them improve, and where they stand in relation to others taking part in the competition.
Companies also need to put thought into the rewards. “An Employee of the Month certificate is not going to spur noteworthy interest and action,” Fluss warns.
Prizes can be tangible assets, such as money (often the most popular choice), gift cards, food, and tickets to special events. While money is a very alluring enticement, clever managers can provide other perks without having to reach deep into their pockets. Workplace perks, like a shift choice, a morning off, coming in an hour late or leaving an hour early, preferential parking spaces, or better seating locations (near a window or in a reserved office, for example), are common. Letting employees select from a number of items increases the likelihood that they will value the reward.
Personalization is also a driving force in contact center gamification. A generic gift card or a company T-shirt could give the impression that management is counting pennies or hasn’t put a lot of thought into the program. Unique prizes, such as a balloon ride or dinner with a local celebrity, illustrate that managers have taken extra steps to make employees feel special.
Even more enriching than money, employees need to feel valued and empowered in the workplace today, according to Shane Metcalf, cofounder and chief culture officer at 15Five, developer of a continuous employee performance management tool. “Organizations need to make employees feel like they belong, cultivate their self-esteem, and provide them with an opportunity for self-actualization,” he says.
THE END GAME
The ultimate goal of gamification is to motivate individuals to perform at higher levels. When done right, more collaboration and attention to detail come from the healthy competition. Gamification also activates creativity by encouraging employees to think outside the box to advance.
The process can also revitalize outdated training models. Employees don’t have to sit in a classroom anymore; traditional read-and-write lessons can be replaced with more engaging, more interactive, and more effective training materials, including videos, online discussions, and interaction exchanges.
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