Using Gamification to Motivate Your Contact Center Staff

Are the rewards you offer your Communicators sufficiently motivating and engaging that they translate into benefits for your customers? That is, are rewards—from employee recognition to paid time off to wages—enough to overcome job stressors in the heightened customer service environment of today’s contact center?

Appropriate motivation becomes ever more relevant as Communicator responsibilities continue to extend beyond simply reading from a screen. Today, these customer care associates are expected to empathize with customers, use initiative to solve problems and remain focused on conveying a professional demeanor during each and every interaction.

The methods used by contact centers to motivate and engage Communicators to perform these duties were analyzed recently by ContactBabel, with results published in a new study, “The US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide 2016.”

The study shows that the 221 contact center managers and directors who responded to the ContactBabel questionnaire believe that their reward systems for Communicators are generally effective. Yet, ContactBabel found this to be true only when the reward was monetary, which approach was only used by 68 percent of respondents (compared to the 86 percent who use employee recognition).

In fact, cash bonuses were the least used reward.

For the most part then, contact center leaders think they are motivating and engaging Communicators in an appropriate and effective manner. Yet, by using attrition and absence rates, ContactBabel discovered a strong correlation between low salary levels and high staff attrition. The picture was a little different for absence rates, however, with those contact centers that ranked their reward programs “very effective” having fewer absences.

Overall, the findings present contact center leaders, who are not in a position to give significant wage increases to their customer care staff, with the need to find another reliable motivator. Enter gamification.

Gamification

Gamification is an approach for improving Communicator engagement, and aligning behaviors and characteristics with those of the contact center and wider enterprise. Basically, it involves turning work tasks into games. The opportunity for reward and recognition is presented at an individual level, with team-based successes also quantified. Achieving company-set goals is rewarded with points and badges.

Gamification increases Communicator engagement in a handful of ways:

  • Rewards those behaviors and characteristics that most closely align with contact center and company goals
  • Provides immediate feedback on performance to employees
  • Improves group performance through the pooling of knowledge and collaboration
  • Reduces ramp-up time for new Communicators, as it provides real-time feedback that encourages positive behaviors
  • Cuts down on time that managers must spend running incentive programs, and delivers them more objectively

Gamification requires company leaders to carefully set goals to avoid the risk of negative repercussions. For example, rewarding Communicators based on average handling time could cause them to drop difficult calls or not address customer concerns fully. Also, prepare for the novelty of the technique to wear off over time. This means that managers need to keep games fresh and goals relevant. It’s also quite possible that rewards will need to increase to maintain motivation levels.

Three Reasons to Integrate Gamification into Customer Care

Chances are you’ve at least heard of the word “gamification,” but what does it actually mean and how can it be applied to your customer care strategy?

Simply put, gamification is the process of applying game design, mechanics, and thinking to non-game activities with the hope that it will motivate customers, boost participation and increase engagement.

Many of today’s companies are using gamification to better engage customers and boost sales. Take Nike for example. The athletic company has experienced success with its Nike+ products, which prompts users to log fitness data to win points.

SAP is another great example of a company enjoying the benefits of gamification. The enterprise software company ranks the top contributors to its SAP Community Network. Users get points when they contribute to forums or when their content is liked.

For companies that want to improve their quality of customer care in a non-conventional way, gamificiation is the perfect solution. Not only does it help turn mundane tasks into exciting experiences, but it also helps to change behaviors, develop skills and motivate employees.

Below are three reasons why you should consider integrating gamification into your customer care strategy:

  • Improves efficiencies: Improving productivity is a top priority for many businesses. By creating an environment of healthy competition, employees will often push themselves a little further than they might otherwise.
  • Boosts work satisfaction: Your Communicators are your most important asset. When they are happy, your customers and bottom line are happy too. Implementing gamification helps employees become more engaged in activities that they might have found tedious or less-enjoyable in the past.
  • Motivates employees: It can be difficult to motivate employees at times. After all, fielding dozens of calls day-in and day-out can be exhausting. Gamification engages Communicators on an emotional level and motivates them to achieve their goals.

If you’re interested to learn more about gamification in the customer care space, read my recently published article featured in CUSTOMER magazine .

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.