August 1, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
Gamification is the process of including the typical elements of game-play, such as levels, point-scoring, or competition, to another activity. Recently, online marketers and product launchers have used gamification to increase engagement with products or services, but gamification goes back a long way. You might remember playing a game of Jeopardy to review for a test in your middle school classroom, or winning Employee of the Month at your company. These are examples of the early stages of gamification.
Today, though, gamification is a much broader and more profound system that touches our lives in ways we might not even notice. By including aspects of gamification in fitness wearables (such as the FitBit) and language training apps (like DuoLingo), it seems almost every industry is attempting to boost engagement from users and employees. Some have even claimed that gamification increases agent retention in the call center. But is this really the case?
Gamification In The Contact Center
Call centers are one industry attempting to make use of game psychology. The reality is that much of a contact center agent’s time is spent performing repetitive tasks – responding to customers using omnichannel technologies, selling or supporting sales through customer service, interacting with a software interface quickly – and these tasks can be boiled down into a number.
By taking these numbers and attaching game strategy to them, call centers have begun to gamify the industry. For example, an employee with the highest average response time might win a prize, like choosing their own shift or an extra day off. If the “game” is difficult enough, additional rewards can be attached.
In the end, though, these strategies are about leveraging competition in the workplace to improve engagement and success.
Gamification Increases Agent Retention
It’s no secret that agent retention is a challenge for the call center, with many surveys and studies indicating it is the No. 1 challenge for the industry. Many contact centers report attrition rates in the 30-40% range, but some have even reported triple digit attrition rates.
Gamification plays into our innate desire for reward, feedback, status, competition, altruism, and achievement. Gartner recently called it “a powerful tool to engage employees, customers, and the public to change behaviors, develop skills, and drive innovation.”
Contact centers that have included gamification into their employee and customer engagement strategies have seen the results, with some reporting record financial growth, employee engagement metrics, and partnerships. Research shows that gamification increases agent retention in the contact center.
A 2014 article by Stephen Dale of the Warwick Business School provides great in-depth analysis of how companies that employ a thoughtful and strategic gamification plan can expect the following results:
- increased motivation and productivity of employees
- alignment of goals and expectations of employees, stakeholders and customers with the company’s goals
- employees fully engaged with new company initiatives
- employees converted into advocates of the company.
Are you preparing for a contact center transition? Get our free eBook Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap to Customer Care Success to start on your journey today.
Gamification Best Practices For Call Centers
Games can be smashes or flops (we won’t name names), so it shouldn’t be surprising that gamification strategies in the workplace can hit both notes as well. How can you do it right?
Consider objectives, company culture, agent behaviors, fresh rewards, difficult challenges, and transparent strategy. Your agents should experience increased engagement, not feel as though they are being exploited or duped into doing more work.
Find Right Motivators
Depending on the kinds of people who you employ, different motivators will be needed. In the end, these different motivators fall into two umbrella categories: competitors and cooperators. As Dale’s article states:
“Competitive employees want leaderboards and competitions. They thrive against opposition. Cooperative employees want all the social status of victory and talent but shrink from direct and confrontational competition.”
Consider how the motivators you include in your game strategy might meet the needs of these different types of agents when considering how gamification increases agent retention in your contact center.
Furthermore, research shows that using financial incentives is not motivational. We associate money with compensation for work – not for fun – and since gamification is all about fun, other motivators that play into our desire for status or recognition should be utilized.
Dale’s 2014 article offers the following examples of extrinsic versus intrinsic reward possibilities:
Ensure your game strategy matches your business. Games can be fun and colorful, but taken too far, this might make the strategy feel demeaning or patronizing. Ensure the game concepts match directly to employee metrics. Your agents should know what they need to do to earn your game strategy rewards.
Implement Contextually Within Current Systems
Job titles, financial incentive programs, employee-of-the-month programs – it is likely your organization already employs status systems that recognize specific employees. Ensure that the game system you implement does not diminish the value of those systems or contradict them. For example, if an entry-level agent outranks a senior manager within the game, consider how to recognize specific skills the new agent is offering or focus the competitive behaviors on only job-tier specific metrics.
Gamification Increases Agent Retention: Fact Or Fiction?
Fact…and possibly fiction.
Like most employee engagement strategies, gamification works when done right. And it can be a disaster when done wrong. Make sure you utilize the best practices and research the psychology behind gamification to ensure it works for your contact center. If you want to chat about the best ways to increase agent retention in your contact center, be sure to reach out to Mindsight today.
Contact us today to discuss developing a robust contact center.
Like what you read?
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our highly-certified engineers and process-oriented excellence have certainly been key to our success. But what really sets us apart is our straightforward and honest approach to every conversation, whether it is for an emerging business or global enterprise. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.