Putting Gamification into Play in the Contact Center

Posted: July 28, 2016


Article published on customerzone360.com »


Contact center operations and gamification were meant for each other. Few other business environments bring so many people together to perform similar routines for a common set of business objectives with a similar set of pressures. Employee attendance, morale, disengagement, turnover, and overall performance are unique challenges for contact centers, in which wages and employee skill levels are often low (in many cases, due to very high turnover), and the work itself can be stressful and monotonous.


The topic of gamification launched onto the business scene in 2012 but more in theory than in wide-spread practice. Since then, however, using game elements to engage employees seems to be coming of age in 2016 with more companies looking for new ways to drive performance and motivation among their teams. Research and business intelligence provider, Mind Commerce, found that the global gamification market is expected to reach $11 billion by 2020 noting that gamification solutions are gaining pace in business-related engagement and loyalty.


In particular, gamification has a record of accomplishment in motivating employees and improving business results for contact centers across every industry sector. It can motivate by utilizing a variety of game mechanics to inspire, encourage, accelerate development, and otherwise impact behavior. It can be adaptable and dynamic and created for broad appeal. This is especially important within contact centers where the workforce is comprised of individuals from nearly every generation, personality, and background. This is where American football can be the great unifier.


A case for fantasy football

By way of example, here is a case study of a contact center gamification solution we recently completed. TouchPoint One launched A-GAME Gridiron, our inaugural football-themed competition, in the fall to align with the National Football League’s regular and post-season timetable. A cloud-based gamification program, A-GAME was designed to leverage structured, league-based competition to inspire, motivate, and recognize contact center performance at the individual and team levels.


Participation in this inaugural season was high and included more than 3,000 agents across 150 teams in the U.S. and Central America supporting customers among some of the world’s leading brands – Sprint (News - Alert), Duke Energy, Chase, Shutterfly, Pepco, Vectren, and Bluegreen Vacations.


A-GAME works so that gamification initiatives are aligned with the business objectives of each participating organization. In addition to league championships, data-driven recognition and award options for outstanding performance or improvement, most valuable or improved player, coach of the year, and other incentives are available and easily configured by each organization’s so-called league commissioner.


To recognize participating agents who demonstrated outstanding performance, we established the Medal of Excellence award. Uniquely data-driven, the Medal of Excellence selection methodology reflects both achievement and improvement extending across all corporate A-GAME leagues over the entire season. It recognizes not only skill and experience, but also the ability to perform at progressively higher levels through sustained commitment, focus, and effort at both the agent and team levels. The honorees were recognized for commitment to customer care, sales, and service delivery excellence through exemplary individual and team performance across a diverse range of business and customer experience metrics.


Other fantasy sports themes in the A-GAME family include basketball, soccer, hockey, Olympics, and more. Also, organizations can create their own sports and other themed leagues for which we automatically facilitate round-robin tournament competitions and play-off stages that culminate in a season end championship.


Post-season analytics

The business impact of the A-GAME gamification platform is an important aspect of its design. Participating organizations are able to track improvements in balanced scores and specific KPIs such as attendance, quality, retention, schedule adherence, utilization and sales/collections, as well as the range of customer experience metrics.


Season 1 highlights included participation within a broad scope of industries, including utility, travel, BPO, consumer, receivables management, telco, cable, and wireless. Performance impact was high, posting 7-32 percent balanced score improvements. Agent surveys showed that 92 percent loved or felt “favorable” toward participating, and 75 percent were inspired by the game to perform their best.


A review of post-season analytics offered a wealth of information for organizations to carry forth in the off-season. Here are a few examples of results measured during the three peak months of the A-GAME season

  • A leading national BPO company experienced 30 percent attrition reduction resulting in 151 fewer required new hires during the game timeframe – a financial impact of more than $500,000.
  • The same company saw improvement in agent attendance by 4.5 percent, resulting in a financial return of more than $81,000, and saw utilization increase of the same workforce by 1.1 percent, equating to a financial impact of $35,000
  • They realized a dollars collected increase of 17.9 percent for one customer equaling greater than $39 million in additional revenue.
  • A Fortune 1000 utility company experienced efficiency improvements led by a 13.3 percent decrease in AHT and a 31.2 percent reduction in call wrap/hold time while quality and FCR remained stable.
  • The average balanced score for a major receivables management outsourcer improved by 7 percent. Specific KPI included in the balanced scorecard included attendance, utilization, dollars collected, calls handled, quality, and percentage to goal.
  • A leading vacation ownership marketing, sales, and hospitality company realized balanced score improvements ranging from 2.5 percent to 32 percent, respectively, across four distinct customer service groups.
  • All participating companies saw a decrease in average handle times while customer experiences remained stable or improved.
  • Gamification’s impact on contact centers is easily validated. When adequately integrated with an organization’s performance management systems, measuring ROI and value on a year-over-year basis for each KPI and balanced score is a straightforward process. These analytics are often integrated within the higher-end contact center gamification platforms. And by providing organizations the ability to measure their success and improve future results, gamification will continue to have an enduring positive impact on customer and employee experience and loyalty.

Greg Salvato is CEO of contact center employee engagement and performance management software solutions company TouchPoint One (www.TouchPointOne.com).


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