Engage Contact Center Agents with Workforce Engagement Management

Achieving customer satisfaction by providing an enhanced customer experience is a foremost objective of the contact center and an important metric by which performance is measured. A critical component of achieving this goal is having highly engaged and motivated contact center agents.

Agent engagement is an aspect of the workplace that can impact almost everything in the contact center, negatively or positively. Contact center leaders should recognize that engaging their agents so that they feel valued and that their contributions are appreciated is just good business sense.

Agents who are more engaged in the workplace tend to be happy and more likely to create happy customers, resulting in higher customer retention. This is beneficial to contact centers, as Gartner reports that a mere 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25 percent to 125 percent.

Lower attrition rates are another advantage of engaged agents, as they are more likely to enjoy their work, making them less likely to leave the center. Reduced turnover means lower costs for recruitment and training of new employees.

Workforce engagement management (WEM) and gamification are applications that can be used to produce high-caliber, highly engaged agents who can generate the quality customer experiences that will increase customer satisfaction and retention. WEM, focuses on the contact center agent experience and provides contact center managers with the tools to address the following:

  • Time management;
  • Recognition and metrics;
  • Task management;
  • Performance assessment and improvement;
  • Recruitment; and
  • Onboarding.

In its analyst of top WEM solutions, Frost & Sullivan states that, "WEM draws from worker-focused tools, such as flexible scheduling packages, personalized training and coaching, and revamped agent workspaces. But it also places a lot of focus on agent empowerment, assistance, and reward. Components to look for from solution providers include voice of the employee (VoE) surveys, gamification, flexible scheduling, mobile apps for the worker, team communication and collaboration, eLearning, knowledge management, and guided resolution.

"The right workforce engagement management platform enhances this notion. It allows real-time analysis of employee actions and customer behaviors, then uses machine learning to predict outcomes. These metrics can be tied to both personal and organization-wide goals, which lets employees and managers improve or capitalize on positive attributes immediately."

Feedback is an important feature of WEM. Thanks to modern data analytics tools, contact center leaders can provide agents with timely and relevant feedback that gives them valuable insights into their performances. Agents are held accountable for taking the steps to improve their work performance. Leaders can also identity problems and address them before they begin to negatively impact the customer experience.

Motivation Through Gamification

Contact center leaders can also provide better management for their agents by encouraging the behaviors that correlate to improved customer service satisfaction and quality.

According to a Forrester Research report, employees crave continuous feedback. One solution that has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to provide this high-level of interaction, particularly within contact centers, is gamification. Important to note, however, is that continuous feedback implies a consistent and appropriate cadence, not excessive or helicopter management.

At its core, gamification is founded on the principles behind the behavioral science and art of gaming; it applies game mechanics to non-game situations to generate loyalty and highly effective actions. Recognition, collaboration, incentives, or competition encourage agents to put forth their best efforts for the contact center.

In its analysis, Frost & Sullivan notes that, "Ultimately, the purpose of the gamification platform is to help align employee activity with company goals. It easily enables supervisors on up to incentivize employees to perform better based on any number of key performance indicators (KPIs), from improving productivity, adhering to schedules, and decreasing agent turnover to improving quality and compliance. Performance data is then used to drive the platform and achieve outcomes.

"Gamification platforms enable companies to transparently convey goals to employees and helps them understand and act to achieve both personal and company goals, easily, in an intuitive and engaging way."

Thus, by tapping two types of motivation—intrinsic, personal desires to achieve and do well and extrinsic, tangible rewards to drive desired outcomes—contact centers can use gamification to better satisfy employee needs, foster professional growth, and create a workplace conducive to achievement.

The concept of gamifying customer service isn't new. Organizations have always incentivized employees with record-focused goal-setting and friendly competitions as motivation. Points, leaderboards, and completion achievements can also make employees feel like their contributions are recognized, which is a significant driver of employee engagement and satisfaction. And since happier employees result in greater productivity and happier customers, gamification can actually have a sizable impact on revenue.

Gamification uses game elements such as points, badges, leaderboards, rewards, and recognition to motivate and engage agents to change behaviors, become more productive, and improve business outcomes. Plus, gamification can be tailored to the needs of several employee groups, which makes it ideal for all generations of employees.

According to the Frost & Sullivan analysis, "savvy solution providers soon realized that far beyond providing agents with tools to improve performance is a link between improving the employee experience and CX. Initiatives to empower agents to do their jobs more effectively included the development of better knowledge databases, guided resolution, and streamlined agent desktops."

Not only can gamification track agent performance, it can emit signals to remind agents of desired behaviors when they need a little assistance and reinforce their strengths by rewarding them for accomplishments, such as hitting milestones or sharing best practices. In addition to tracking individual performance and attainment of simple goals that require just one action, gamification can also track attainment of more complex goals that require multiple actions by one agent or collaborative actions by an entire team.

Agents are given objectives to reach and real-time feedback on their performance that details their improvements and progress. Once certain milestones are achieved, agents are given rewards. The techniques and tactics of gamification can have significant impacts in the following situations:

  • Turnover rates are extremely high, and agents are demonstrating signs of burnout;
  • There has been a recent increase in complaints from customers regarding inadequately trained or indifferent agents;
  • Contact center leaders need a snapshot of how engaged agents are with their customers and jobs;
  • Agents appear to be lethargic; and
  • There has been a recent uptick in agents calling in sick.

Agents are the backbone of the contact center, and their performance will be one of the main factors in how customers rate their experience with the center. Contact centers with an agent-centric workplace environment so agents feel like an essential part of a community in which they have a say and feel their efforts will be recognized and rewarded will have more engaged agents and more satisfied customers.

Brett Brosseau is vice president of Noble Gaming Solutions at Noble Systems, an omnichannel contact center solutions provider.