The Role of Gamification in the Contact Center and Back Office

Savvy executives across all industries realize the strategic value of the contact center and back-office environments as dominant players in generating revenue and growing, acquiring, and retaining customer relationships. As a result, these leaders are focused on deriving more value from contact center agents and knowledge workers, and making these hourly employees into more strategic assets and brand ambassadors for their companies. Many are turning to gamification—the application of game-playing elements to encourage engagement—as a means to drive more profitable interactions and increase revenue per customer. Here are several examples of gamification that have had a positive impact on the companies using them.

Getting in the Millennial Mode

Why is gamification ideal for the contact center and back office? One word: millennials. They've grown up gaming. They know how to jump, punch, race, and run with a flip of their thumb on a control device, so gaming is in their DNA. Additionally, the millennials are changing the way contact center managers must think. They do not fit the mold of the traditional contact center employee. In order to maintain engagement with these workers, contact center and back office leaders must discover new and innovative ways to shape their behavior, and gamification provides the incentive-based reward system these employees respond to positively.

Focus on the Prize

The role of the customer service representative (CSR) is far different today than it was 20 years ago. Consumers have more choices than ever when deciding with whom they will do business. CSRs are expected to fulfill the "service" role in the customer relationship, but their performance is also critical in building customer rapport and offering additional products or services that grow the average profit per customer. To make this happen, companies are applying gamification techniques to incentivize agents for increased revenue targets.

For example, one telecommunications provider uses gamification to reward agents based on the number of "bundled" or "triple play" (voice, data, and wireless services) transactions the agent makes in a week. Using their agile agent desktop (the service desktop with all critical sales and service functions in a single view), agents are presented with their triple play "scores" in real time. This telecommunications company uses 25 triple plays as the goal metric, so once the agent hits that 25th triple play, he or she wins a $50 gift card. This technique has helped this company boost triple play sales by 18 percent in the first three months of the program.

Another stellar example of gamification in the contact center comes from a leading national insurance provider. A key performance metric for many insurers these days is add-on policies for existing policyholders. Insurance contact centers are leveraging "householding"—identifying life events to systematically offer new products and services—to increase the policyholder's insurance portfolio. For example, if Jane Doe has recently married and calls into her insurance contact center to change her last name, an agent could present an offer to add on to her existing auto policy, or transfer her partner's auto policy to the same company. This particular insurer's contact center gamified its add-on policy cross-sell program by awarding points for each add-on policy an agent sold, and offered prizes such as Blu-ray players and flat-screen TVs at certain point levels. The result of this program was a 20 percent increase in add-on policies.

Practice Makes Perfect

In the back-office environment, knowledge workers process hundreds of claims, contracts, or other manually intensive activities on a daily basis. Accuracy and precision are critical components for performing this type of work, and gamification is a great method to motivate and reward knowledge workers. One large national mortgage lender began receiving numerous calls from customers regarding their escrow accounts and issues with statements. The company investigated the issue and discovered that knowledge workers were processing forms incorrectly and entering escrow information in the incorrect fields. Using intelligence gathered by assessing workers' desktop activities, the company realized there were breakdowns in the process, and the applications they were using to enter the data were not aligned, thus causing errors reflected on customer statements. The lender made corrections to the applications used to process the mortgage data, and, ultimately, automated a number of manual tasks that removed the opportunity for data entry error.

To ensure knowledge workers were engaged and actively following the correct processes, the company launched a "zero defects" gamification program, which rewarded employees who achieved a 0 percent error rate each month. This type of gamification is not as common, but the results showed a significant impact on overall accuracy and customer satisfaction scores rose by close to 10 percent.

Gamification Is Serious Business

Gamification is quickly becoming recognized as a strategic means to impact contact center and back office performance. While it may seem quite simple, it is, in fact, a practice that requires a significant amount of planning, so having a strategy is critical. Another important element is technology; real-time guidance and 360-degree customer views enable a wide variety of gamification scenarios. Finally, it's critical to gain employee buy-in and socialize your gamification plan internally to ensure success.

Anna Convery is the executive vice president of strategy for OpenSpan, a provider of desktop automation and desktop analytics solutions that improve performance, drive revenue, and increase efficiencies in contact center, back office, and retail storefront environments. She previously held senior executive roles at NICE Systems, ClickFox, and Nexidia, as well as global marketing and business development roles with IBM, Jacada, and Unibol.

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