Agent Engagement

Gamifying the Call Center: Your 8-Point Checklist

If you’re serious about driving real results on the front line, it’s time to get serious about call center gamification.

Few other initiatives can transform the call center culture and operations—and strengthen the top and bottom line—like gamification. Friendly competition and rewards aren’t just energizing and fun: they motivate agents to aim higher. They also strengthen brand pride and team cohesion. Gamification keeps agents happy and loyal while driving continuous performance improvements that keep customers happy and loyal.

What makes gamification such a powerful employee engagement tool? It speaks to basic human needs: the desire for knowledge, recognition, and achievement.

GAMIFICATION MECHANIC WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
Fast feedback See where I’m headed
Badges Show my achievements
Competition Know who’s winning
Community Work as a team
Leveling Up Learn more, try harder

Source: Bunchball/CITO Research

In our conversations with customer service leaders, the most common question we hear isn’t about the concept of gamification or the value of it. It’s about execution. “How do we get started, keep it going, and make it work for our business?”

If measurable success is important to you, this is the question you should be asking.

How to Beat the Odds: 8 Tips for Gamification Success

Many call centers gamify without clear objectives or detailed plans. They “set it and forget it,” failing to refresh the program as needed. Or they miss the mark entirely. This is why most gamification programs produce little in the way of business results, sometimes resulting in big losses for companies.

To avoid a costly miscalculation and score big wins in morale and performance, you need to map out the program details in the beginning and recalibrate the program over time. Here’s an 8-point checklist that can help you transition successfully.

1. Establish goals for the program.

What are the results you’re hoping to achieve with gamification? Think about the KPIs you’ll use to measure success.

  • Agent level – service quality, efficiency, or both
  • Operational level – agent attrition, FCR, customer satisfaction, etc.
  • Enterprise level – customer churn, revenue growth, etc.

No matter which KPIs you choose, be sure to establish a baseline before starting the program so you can track your progress.

2. Think about the data you’ll use.

To make gamification work, you’ll need abundant real-time data. You’ll also need the right kind of data.

Relying on efficiency metrics can work against service quality, and some agents could game the system to improve their scores. Scores based solely on internal quality metrics and the subjective judgment of managers and QA leaders may be seen as unfair.

Customer feedback delivered directly to the front line—complete with star ratings, yes/no answers to additional questions (FCR, NPS®, etc.), suggested rewards, and specific recommendations for improvement—is ideal for gamification. Agents value the feedback, it helps them correct course, and it motivates them to serve every customer better than the previous one.

3. Consider your rewards system.

Recognition and rewards can run the gamut. You might decide to reward top performers, entire teams, or anyone who meets a designated threshold on a given metric. Material rewards and job perks are terrific incentives, but recognition can be an equally powerful motivator. All of these elements can change depending on how well they drive results.

4. Sell the team on the benefits and importance.

Don’t assume agents will automatically embrace the program, especially if they aren’t accustomed to having detailed performance data collected and shared. Explain how gamification will work, and why it matters.

  • The value for agents – The program will give agents the tools to improve. Over time, this will make their job easier and strengthen their career prospects.
  • The value for customers – A high-performing agent can make a customer’s day by solving problems quickly and effectively.
  • The value for the brand – Remind agents of their unique contribution to brand health and profitability. Improved performance produces more loyal customers, a growing customer base, and more revenue generated and saved.

5. Make the transition fun.

Plan something special for launch day, and announce it in advance. Build enthusiasm for performance-based rewards and/or compensation. Do all you can to fire up your team so they’ll be eager to get started.

6. Give agents access to their scores and team rankings.

Individual dashboards showing real-time scores, broken down by various performance metrics, inform and incentivize agents throughout the day. Agents can use the data to self-correct without input from managers, thus accelerating their own progress.

Leaderboards in the call center, which show agent rankings in real time, can profoundly affect morale and team cohesion. Agents high five each other for successes and encourage each other when setbacks occur. Friendly competition reminds agents of their shared mission and motivates them to improve their rankings.

Gamifying the contact center with leaderboards
Marc Broering, Customer Service Manager at EBTH, highlighting his team’s leaderboard, where agents can monitor their star rating, given by customers who they interact with.

 

If you’re skittish about full transparency, don’t be. Your agents will appreciate it, and they’ll benefit from it. By going all in, you’ll demonstrate your concern for the team and your commitment to service excellence.

7. Give agents timely support and encouragement.

As they compete with themselves and others to raise their scores and rankings, agents place great value on timely input and guidance from their managers. Deliver micro-coaching throughout the day (aim for a 5:1 positive/negavtive ratio) to boost morale and help agents break through to higher levels of performance.

Between coaching sessions, managers should be available to answer agents’ questions and address service issues via Slack or a similar communication platform. We also recommend creating a channel where agents can share best practices with each other.

8. Revisit the program on a regular basis.

To keep engagement high and keep the business results flowing, it’s important to refresh the program periodically. Are there other KPIs you want to focus on? How are agents interacting with the program? Have their needs changed? Are there other rewards that might be more enticing?

Asking these questions from time to time will allow you to identify any weaknesses undercutting the program. And it might lead you in new directions with even greater potential for your brand.

Gamification Is Serious Business—and a Serious Brand Advantage

Using performance data to improve morale and service quality is a game changer for brands. It vanquishes complacency and feelings of isolation in the call center, and it encourages agents to own the service experience. Agents have more pride and satisfaction in their work, and customer interactions go from blasé to unforgettable.

To achieve these gains, make sure you and your team are fully prepared for launch. Planning and communication are key, as is active program management. Invest the time, invest in your people, and turn the talent you have into a brand-building machine.