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Gamification Plays Well in the Contact Center

Did you know that studies have discovered that companies with engaged employees generate 250% more revenue than companies with low engagement levels? What if you add the latest advances in gamification technology?

Gamification is the application of game principles and design elements of game design to non-game interactions such as those in a contact center. Gamification in the contact center can deliver value by maximizing employee engagement levels, improving accountability, and ensuring that daily operations align with business strategy.

I have been observing a movement to bring gamification to business operations, especially the contact center. One of the companies I discovered is Rev, which offers a performance management platform for driving engagement and facilitating communications. The platform achieves this, Rev says, by creating transparency around management goals and enabling employees to be better at their jobs by answering the question, "How do I improve?" It engages employees by appealing to their natural sense of competitiveness through gamification.

I interviewed Ty Tucker, CEO, to learn more about Rev's approach to gamification and performance management.

What is an engagement strategy?
Tucker: For organizations that want to increase employee engagement, managers must consider how they can create conditions in which employees are motivated to offer more of their capability and potential. In order to achieve this, companies put engagement strategies in place that include technology and tools like performance management platforms. This workplace approach seeks to identify the right conditions that allow each team member to produce his or her best each day, remain committed to company goals, stay motivated to contribute to companywide success, and maintain personal satisfaction at work.

What is boring about contact center agent and supervisor dashboards?
Tucker: Contact center agents, supervisors, managers, and even site directors are required to review data constantly, often within dashboards that offer little interaction. Rev switches this mindset from simply reviewing performance numbers to asking, 'Did I win today?' Leveraging the natural competitiveness of people and the way we all like to play games produces better agent results. The dashboard shows team members how to win the game of work, engaging employees like never before. Current contact center dashboards often don't provide the necessary action catalyst to create relevancy or context to what's being measured. This does not yield the results that organizations are looking for and fails to engage and enable their workforces.

How is gamification applicable to contact center operations?
Tucker: For the last 50 years, the call center industry has operated on the premise that showing people data will change their behaviors and influence the ways they make decisions. Any basic reporting tool can capture, document, and return key metrics that drive the profitability of a call center. We show metrics in real time, comparing peer-to-peer performance and focusing on the activities that drive organizational success using a simple-to-understand scoring methodology. From contact agents to company executives, every employee is scored on a level playing field that accounts for the nuances and anomalies that exist across separate campaigns and lines of business.

What is the state of gamification?
Tucker: Many organizations are implementing gamification. This effort should not create a system that appears to be a gimmick. User adoption is critical to the success of a gamification strategy. One thing to keep in mind is that gamification is an engagement strategy, but engagement without enablement doesn't drive success. Additionally, gamification without a full feedback cycle of engage, enable, incentivize, and learn will fail, resulting in low user adoption and missed opportunities. The Forbes article "Gamification: Powering Up or Game Over?" is a useful reference on the success and failure of gamification.

How does gamification benefit the agent?
Tucker: On an individual level, the platform can help visualize average handle time (AHT), time to resolution (TTR), call quality, documentation accuracy, escalation rate, and more. Agents can view how they compare to their peers in real time, motivating them to focus on tasks and excel at work. Real-time feedback means being provided with constant learning opportunities from peers or management. The high-paced, results-driven atmosphere in a contact center can be daunting at times. Gamification can help alleviate some of the stress while reinforcing the behaviors that lead to success.

Rev's agent dashboard

How does gamification benefit the supervisor?
Tucker: Managers are provided coaching opportunities when utilizing a gamification strategy that has been effectively implemented. Seeing how employees compare is more than just knowing who is doing a great job. It is about receiving the necessary feedback and in turn providing relevant coaching to employees. The volume of data, the number of employees, and the velocity of business can result in supervisors falling into an analysis paralysis trap, not knowing where to focus their attention. Contact center supervisors can use Rev to aggregate and create insight into metrics such as service level, abandon rate, absenteeism, and attrition, thereby managing the day-to-day operations from within the platform, while also understanding where efficiencies can be adopted.

How do rewards for agents improve their skills and moral?
Tucker: Rev recognizes the most consistent top performers within a call center, rewarding them for their achievements in a public way. That recognition for consistent and exceptional behaviors among peers is proven to improve engagement and performance, which in turn drives positive results. Gamification unites employees with a common desire to come out on top, and encourages increased employee interaction and team bonding.

While the platform provides the mechanism to know who to reward, organizations must recognize that peer recognition is only one piece of the puzzle. Quantitative rewards are great ways to motivate employees, whether in additional paid time off, a paid vacation, or a performance bonus. Twenty-five dollar Amazon gift cards may be great here and there, but they don't make employees really strive for the next performance level that leadership wants.

Understanding what motivates employees is key to a successful gamification strategy.