With Gamification, Contact Centers Can Be Fun

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Feedback also becomes timelier and more user-friendly. Agents can gain more immediate and direct feedback more often. Allowing them to view their performance compared to their peers helps them put things into perspective so they can self-analyze more effectively. It also avoids the element of surprise during routine performance reviews.

Another end goal of gamification is to make work more supportive. Ideally, gamification replaces the sense of drudgery that arises with most jobs with a feeling of anticipation and excitement. It seeks to create an environment where individuals look forward to coming to work, where they like what they do so they put more effort into it. The approach produces better-trained agents who can then create better customer experiences.

By introducing gamification, companies can build a corporate culture where employees feel welcome and appreciated. They facilitate, recognize, and reward learning, creativity, and social and personal growth, which boosts employee confidence, happiness, and productivity and creates a more cooperative, warm, and enjoyable workplace.

By adding such elements, Centrical’s customers on average have reduced onboarding costs by 28 percent, increased knowledge 2.8 times, lowered attrition by 10 percent, and increased productivity by 11 percent, according to Rimon.

With results like that, you might think that contact centers would be flocking to gamification, but so far, few companies have: Estimates place adoption at between 5 percent and 15 percent. Incorporating gamification into the call center requires companies to clear several hurdles.

Many of the traditional gamification systems relied on manual input and report generation, which was time-consuming and tedious. New solutions automate the steps needed to track progress and rewards. “Luckily the manual processes can be eliminated by implementing performance management software that automatically aggregates the data, awards points, and pushes notifications to agents, automating the entire process,” Bauserman says.

The latest software also comes in a number of deployment options. Some providers, like Bunchball, Influitive, Salescreen, and Tango Card, offer stand-alone solutions.

Bundling is another option. “Gamification is being incorporated into performance management, workforce automation, quality assurance/quality management, and other contact center solutions,” Fluss points out.

But justifying the investment can be difficult. “Companies have a number of alternative technologies, like robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, that offer a clear ROI,” Fluss says. “So it can be a hard sell to convince management to invest in gamification software.”

In addition to the software investment, corporations must allocate money for the rewards. In some cases, managers feel like they are paying extra for something that employees should deliver without the need for added inducements.

And then hidden complications can also arise. Any reward with a fiscal benefit needs to be included in an employee’s base compensation package and becomes taxable. As a result, a $100 reward is likely to be stripped down to an extra $65 in the employee’s pocket.

Different states and countries have regulations barring the sharing and posting of employee performance data, so firms need to be familiar with local regulations that apply to such programs and implement them appropriately.

Another pitfall is that not everyone views gamification positively. Some individuals might see it as childish and unprofessional.

And the sense of competition might backfire, causing tension. “If a company has a competition with one winner, there can be 999 losers,” Centrical’s Rimon says. In some cases, the losers could become frustrated; rather than a spirit of cooperation, rifts might arise.

This might not be an overwhelming obstacle, though. To remove the perception of favoritism for one agent over another, everyone’s performance should be clearly recorded, judged evenly, and displayed to highlight everyone who has exceeded his targets. When agents are rewarded accordingly, it helps build agent morale.

Companies are constantly trying to improve contact center performance and lower operating costs. Gamification has huge potential to improve the workplace atmosphere and boost the energy level. It isn’t about playing games. It’s about stimulating the reward centers of the brain to boost employee productivity for a more enjoyable workplace. 

Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer who specializes in technology issues. He has been covering CRM issues for more than two decades, is based in Andover, Mass., and can be reached at paulkorzen@aol.com or on Twitter at @PaulKorzeniowski.

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