Playing Games with Customer and Employee Satisfaction

By Jeff Canter

Gamification – the use of game elements like an organized system to accrue points, well-defined rules of play, and leaderboards in non-traditional contexts – has become one of the hottest trends in business, including call centers. A report from respected analyst group Gartner estimates that more than 70 percent of Global 2000 companies will have at least one gamified application by the end of this year.

The entry of the game-focused Millennial generation into the workforce is one reason the trend is catching on so quickly. Gen Y consumers are digital natives who grew up playing interactive games. Wise advertising and marketing companies have used the Millennial focus on games to create incredibly successful promotional campaigns. Now companies are turning to gamification to help improve employee performance.

Picture a call center where team members are busily handling incoming customer queries. They have performance quotas – indicators such as a target number of contacts to handle per shift, customer satisfaction goals, and quality ratings.

Managers monitor their business unit’s performance indicators and circle back with employees on their individual results to continuously improve outcomes. They review reports to analyze side-by-side comparisons of staff members to get a big picture view. But individual employees operate in a silo.

Gamification can change that. When a call center management team gamifies the operation, they automatically make everyday tasks more fun and exciting. Software solutions that support gamification can amp up employee motivation by establishing friendly competition and providing real-time statistics to let team members know where they stand as individuals or as part of a larger group.

Not only can this approach provide extra incentive to employees, it can measurably increase customer satisfaction. Introducing game elements, such as points for prizes and recognition, motivates employees to perform at their peak capacity. It can also significantly increase employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention – all while delivering superior customer satisfaction. Managers who use a gamification approach can get individuals and teams alike to perform better.

That said, to successfully apply gamification to contact center operations, managers need to make sure they select the right solution and design an implementation strategy that works for their unique circumstances. Managers who oversee complex contact center operations are typically extremely busy, so the gamification solution should be intuitive and automated.

The gamification system should also be highly customizable so business unit leaders can tailor games and recognize accomplishments in a way that aligns performance with company objectives. A gamification system could include rules crafted to award points based on meeting quotas, quality and customer satisfaction standards, and training program retention. The system should be designed to enable managers to assign points and encourage achievements that link back to individual, team, and company performance objectives.

In addition to incorporating company goals, the gamification system should be easy to use, providing a simple employee interface and an at-a-glance summary of performance, with stats displayed on a leaderboard and a quick overview of potential point-scoring opportunities readily available. This is essential to ensure that employees get into the competitive spirit of the game and keep a close eye on their standings.

Ideally, the system would work seamlessly with company, team, and individual performance reports. Integration with performance reporting makes it easier for managers to monitor standings, not only within the context of the game but in terms of broader company objectives.

Another essential element of an effective gamification strategy is awarding prizes. Managers can select prizes and develop the system for handing out rewards that best fits their workforce: Some staff members enjoy public attention and find recognition in a meeting highly motivating, whereas others might prefer a less public reward; the choice is up to the manager.

Gamification has been rapidly adopted by businesses on the consumer-facing side, as advertisers and marketers recognized the strategy’s potential to improve customer engagement and inspire brand loyalty. Now it’s changing the way companies motivate and retain employees, using gaming elements to deliver positive reinforcement and foster healthy competition. As gamification advocates have discovered, playing games with customer and employee satisfaction can be a win for everyone.

As chief executive officer, president, and one of the founders of Uptivity, Jeff Canter oversees all facets of the company and makes sure all aspects of the business are positioned for growth. Under Jeff’s leadership, Uptivity has grown to become a leading provider of innovative workforce optimization solutions.

[From Connection Magazine May/Jun 2014]