Improving Contact Center Performance Using Gamification

Improving Contact Center Performance Using Gamification
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Levelling Up Contact Center Performance.

Just a decade ago, contact center performance was challenging to set up and manage.

But today, not only we can optimise onboarding and training but also monitor and evaluate customized key performance indicators.

01. How Can Gamification Provide a Behaviour Change?

First, we need to think about routine behaviour or habits. Things you do almost unconsciously. Habits are formed over time through repeat actions. And bizarrely, nearly half of everything you do in a day is based on habit. Habits are either good, neutral or bad. Today, we want to focus on building positive habits for contact center performance.

1.1 The Stages of Habit

To do this, you need three main things:

  1. A cue. Basically, a prewarning to your brain that you’re going to take an action.
  2. A routine. Essentially, a set and regular time when you’ll do the action.
  3. A reward. The immediate benefit you see from completing the action.

That’s essentially all it takes. Once you’ve made a habit, you’ll go through the 4 stages. You’ll see the cue, begin to crave the action, do the action and reap the reward.

The-four-stages-of-habit

Oh, and it’s cyclical. Remember, 45% of everything you do is habit, so you’re repeating this cycle a lot:

The habit loop

But, how can gamification help create better habits, especially to help with contact center performance?

Well, it all starts with a cue. Each day, agents log into their dashboard and they see all the exciting challenges they can complete. This creates the craving. They know they’ll get a shiny badge or other reward if they complete the tasks. They eagerly jump on the opportunity. Progress bars and experience points reinforce that they are doing a good thing. Once they achieve their goal, the reward is instant and public. Everyone can see they’ve been successful. This is positive and strong dopamine-inducing feedback. This fuels the cycle to begin again with another task, and another.

Contact Center Performance: Gamification and Habits

Gamification is designed- at its core- to create habits. Habits that are important to business goals. The visible progression, mix of short-term and long-term goals, instant feedback and prominent rewards all feed into positive habit formation. The games are enticing, obvious, easy and satisfying – all elements that lead to changes in behaviour. As your agents build new habits that support your KPIs, you’ll see increases in sales, retention and overall business profits. And you can track these growth metrics in real-time. This will give you renewed confidence that the investment of gamification in contact center environments is paying dividends.

02. What’s the Importance of Rewards and Spiffs in Contact Center Sales Gamification?

Historically, SPIFF or SPIVs were used to reward sales agents for closing a deal. Agents would get a tasty little cash bonus for every sale. It was immediate and tangible. And we still do this today, but the delivery method has changed. Now, reloadable debit cards, gift cards, merch and travel vouchers are the most common SPIFFs. The reason why they’re still used is because they’re effective. Offering little bonuses enables an organisation to shift old stock faster, sell more lucrative lines, woo customers to new launches and achieve time-sensitive sales goals.

However, a lot of companies have started relying of SPIFFs as their primary incentive. That’s not their intended purpose. Oh, and if your team is untrained or under-motivated, they won’t do much good either. SPIFFs are meant to reward extraordinary results or trigger additional sales. They’re not the best option for day to day performance benchmarks. Where they do excel is as bonus quest rewards.

Imagine the scene: You have a week to hit your Q3 sales targets. The team is performing well and you’re very close to achieving record sales for your client. You activate a SPIFF bonus quest that offers a tenner in virtual gift cards for every additional sale after quota. They’re off to the races. You hear the frantic excitement on the floor. With each sale, a notification goes off, the agent has unlocked a SPIFF. Sales rapidly start to mount. By the end of the week, you’ve smashed your target. That’s the power of small, incremental bonuses.



03. How Can Gamification be Used to Boost Contact Center Sales Performance?

Now, what about your baseline performance? SPIFFs are great, but they’re not supposed to be the only reward system in place. That’s where a full programme of call center gamification comes in. You can divide your requirements into two key areas:

1. Onboarding & training

Implementing gamification that gets your new hires up to speed, arms them with the tools needed to complete daily tasks and shows them how they’re performing against experienced agents to provide coaching opportunities.

2. Performance tracking & analysis

These gamification elements allow senior management to forecast and report on how the operation is running. You’ll want to configure all your KPIs into the system and link your dialler and CRM for the most robust results. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. We can help.

Remember, when you’re setting a structure and configuring gamification, you must address Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you don’t, you won’t provide enough stimulation to keep your team motivated and performing. Gamification draws highly on behavioural psychology like Maslow’s to provide for a sense of safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

This handy chart gives a glimpse on how these elements stack up:

Maslow Hierarchy of needs for SDRS Teams

Laid out this clearly, you can see how the different gamification elements interact. You provide the tools and make sure they’re all fit for purpose. That’s safety. You run fun challenges, reward top performers publicly and include collaborative elements. That’s belonging and esteem. Then you give your agents the chance to contribute. To make the operation better, faster and stronger. And you reward them for doing so. That’s self-actualisation.

Gamification taps into deep-seated, universal and primal needs to provide a more engaging way to fulfil them. Best of all, you get to watch it all happen. Your management team can identify stragglers and bring them into the fold with coaching. You can report to shareholders and stakeholders in a more meaningful way – with actionable insights. Because you’re rewarding attempts and success, you’re reinforcing a clear message. You matter. “As well as an acknowledgment of effort, [participation rewards are] a reminder that they were part of a team. It helps teach them that success does not need to be about winning, but about working collaboratively and learning,” suggests Trophiesplusmedals.

04. How Can Gamification be Used to Enhance Contact Center Customer Retention?

When the higher needs of your team are met, the culture improves. Yes, there’s still competition but that’s ancillary. The main focus should always be on collaboration.

On working together to make each other’s working life better. We’ve talked before about how rewards for contribution to a knowledge base and the helpfulness of that addition is effective at creating collaboration.

There are. But have you thought about the benefit gamification could have on your customers too?

Think about it. Your customers are a very valuable asset. They know your brand and products. They have opinions and often, they’re happy to share. But they might need a little push to do so. Wouldn’t they enjoy a fun challenge where they can provide feedback in exchange for badges and rewards? If you’d happily leave a review to collect a little coupon, it’s likely your customers would too. What if you could create a custom avatar and connect with other buyers on a private forum to share tips and product knowledge? Would you do it? You’d probably feel pretty important. Certainly not a faceless, nameless consumer… a valued customer. Just as gamification leads agents to provide better customer service, the same is true for consumer-facing gamification and its positive impact on profits.

05. What is Microlearning and How Can it Help my Contact Center Performance?

Gamification in contact center environments isn’t restricted to the sales team. Nor should it be. It can help you to onboard new agents quickly and easily through microlearning. Now microlearning doesn’t mean learning less. It’s about learning in bite-size segments. Microlearning makes hard topics more digestible. It can also lead to a culture of continuous improvement.

Gamification is really helpful in delivering microlearning. You can segment learners into groups and create healthy competition with immediate rewards. Content is delivered during fun levels, not with stacks of boring manuals. Every word, every image and every goal is designed to showcase the brand values, product benefits and teach key info. Every time they successfully complete a module, they get that all-important dopamine hit, plus a shared sense of accomplishment with their team.

But even struggles are effective. Any levels with a high failure rate provide an opportunity for one-on-one coaching.

But training doesn’t have to stop at onboarding week. Gamification allows agents the opportunity to complete additional training sessions for badges, points and rewards. This is a great way to deliver info about system and product updates or to deliver corrective educational modules. Managers can see in real-time who has completed the training, how they performed and what their scores were. In that way, the whole agent pool is kept up to speed with developments, ongoing.

06. What are the Most Important KPI’s to Gamify and Increase Contact Center Performance?

What gets measured, gets managed. You’ve probably heard that before. As the world moves to a more data-centric orientation, contact centers need to focus more on metrics. Think about your key business goals. For each organisation and business, they will be a little bit different. Your clients will have different needs and so will your stakeholders. Setting metrics is not a one-size-fits all activity. What activities and elements contribute to positive growth in those goals? Drawing a blank?

Critical KPIs for Contact Center Performance

Here are some critical KPIs for contact center performance to jog your memory:

  • Call quality – how accurate was the information provided by the agent?
  • First call resolution – was the customer’s query solved on the first call?
  • Handle time – how long does it take for the query to be resolved?
  • Answer speed – how long until the call is picked up?
  • Timeliness – are your agents back from breaks and logged in on time?
  • Service level – how many calls are picked up within agreed time limits?
  • Wrap time – how much time is spent recording notes on the account or doing other admin tasks?
  • Occupancy rate – what percentage of an agent’s shift is spent handling calls?
  • Satisfaction – how happy are your customers with the service they receive?
  • Retention rate – what percentage of agents and customers remain with your organisation month on month?
  • Call volumes – how many calls can each agent handle per day?
  • Transfer rates – how many calls needed additional support?


07. What are the Benefits of Gamification in Call Centers?

Well, for your agents, there are some clear benefits of gamification in contact centers. They get training in bite-sized morsels that’s fun to complete. They enjoy a modicum of self-direction in what tasks they focus on each day. Those goals are designed to provide performance statistics and add real value to business growth. There’s healthy and lively competition, plus collaboration on team targets. Agents can reward each other too, for hitting milestones. That peer to peer recognition is great for engagement, motivation and recognition. Then they receive real-time, consistent and personalised feedback on how they are doing. Lastly, when they achieve, not only do they get a dopamine rush, but instant rewards that are publicly shared and celebrated by the team. All these elements combine to create a desirable work culture and productive team.

For managers, it provides efficiency. They’ll know who needs support and extra attention. They’ll worry less about staff turnover because the morale is high. And they’ll know who to reward for exemplary performance. All stats and metrics are monitored in real time for relevant and time-sensitive feedback. And this will provide some direction as to what process improvements can be implemented to drive further growth.

Lastly, for customers, gamification provides a sense of belonging. The opportunity to be seen and heard by an organisation. Simply by providing the space for users to interact, customers can craft their own community. You’ll receive honest, candid feedback which you can turn into profitable improvements. They can also share tips and best practices to deepen their relationship with each other and the brand. In return, your organisation will see significant increases in customer loyalty and retention.

08. How to Set up a Successful Gamification Strategy to Boost your Contact Center Performance?

Okay, so you know what metrics you want to monitor and improve, right? (Scroll up if you need a refresher.) Now, you need to think about roll out. How exactly are you going to encourage and incentivise your team to push those metrics up?

Creating the Perfect Gamification Strategy

Basically, there’s three main ways to do this:

1.Give them something to lose.

Right away, start them off with a badge. Maybe it’s a daily active login badge. Let them know if they don’t log in each day during their shift, it will disappear. This taps into a deep psychological need to avoid loss. Reset stats at the end of each quarter. Have unexcused absences clear out progress. Essentially, you need to create a higher-stakes setting.

2. Give them something to win, personally.

Set individual targets and leaderboards for your key metrics. Reward agents with the fastest, most accurate call handling times. Add a bonus for a great customer review score. Get them invested in the game at a personal level.

3. Give them something to build, together.

Create collaborative targets and projects. Maybe it’s a knowledge base or an updated training programme. By giving rewards for working together, the whole company culture is elevated.

Ideally, you’ll want to use all of these mechanics to create a robust gamification strategy for your operation. But you don’t have to roll them out all at once. Add pieces to the puzzle over time if you’re in a test and learn phase. As long as you start somewhere, you can always optimise as you gather learnings on usage, adoption and results.

09. What are the Factors that Influence the Effectiveness of Call Center Gamification?

First off, agents who are already checked out mentally will not benefit from gamification. They’re too far gone and it’s best to allow them to make an exit from your organisation. As new hires come in, you can bed in the concept from day one with your onboarding. That way, they’ll be excited for further gamification when they’re on the floor.

Key factors for Gamification Success

Okay, so assuming your team is keen, here are the key factors that will lead to gamification success in your contact center:

  1. Robust Reporting – Your existing systems need offer robust reporting. If you’re not already tracking your key metrics, there’s nothing to gamify. Make sure you have a good foundation.
  2. Public Stats – Keep it all above board. The leaderboard for every single challenge should be public. This helps agents feel the competition is fair.
  3. Healthy Rivalry – Keep the competition friendly. It doesn’t always have to be 1v1 leaderboards. Think about team challenges and department goals too. Always encourage agents to play nice.
  4. Go Quantitative – Numbers are honest. Skip wishy washy qualitative scores. Always gamify with cold, hard facts.
  5. Management Matters – Bring in management. Make sure that managers reward and coach based on the progress within the game. This raises the stakes in a healthy way.
  6. Rewarding Culture – Allow for incremental wins. Don’t just reward the top 3 scorers. Think about ways to include everyone who was wholeheartedly participating.
  7. Target Integrity – Punish the cheaters. Don’t allow dishonest practices to crop up. Anyone tampering with the integrity of the challenges should be dealt with swiftly.
  8. Onboard Success – Keep churn rates down when you onboard thoughtfully and give new hires a boost on their competition.
  9. Keep Staff – A healthy, competitive environment where everyone has the same chance of success will motivate agents to try and achieve every day. You’ll see less turnover.

10. Closing Thoughts on Contact Center Gamification

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably pretty convinced of the usefulness of gamification. You might even be considering Mambo for your operation. (Thank you!) But we want to leave you with a few final thoughts.

You can likely think of a few agents in your organisation who are totally burnt out. The shame is, they were probably great agents at one point. But you didn’t provide any motivation; any fun process, to keep them switched on. After learning about all the benefits of gamification on employee retention, engagement and customer satisfaction; you might feel a little guilty. That’s natural. But you don’t have to let this carry on. If you start a gamification project now, you can begin the journey to lower attrition and better profits. You can start providing for your team’s Hierarchy of Needs. You can make a place for your customers to connect and share. And that will go a long way to reversing the damage of the past.

You can set the foundation for a better fiscal year right now. Gamification in your contact center can yield tenfold benefits and a culture to be proud of. If you want to learn more, ask some specific questions or get started today; our team is standing by to help.



About Marcia Kanazawa

Marcia is a results-driven marketing leader, known for innovation and a unique mix of strategic, creative, operational and technical abilities.

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