How Gamification Can Motivate Customer Service Representatives

A call center representative might never get the chance to interact with customers in person, but she is one of the most integral parts of any successful business operation. A call center representative is a crucial team member because she often meets customers at a turning point in their relationship with the company: when they are displeased and looking for answers.

A recent survey found that 40 percent of consumers became repeat purchasers after a company successfully resolved their post-purchase issues. The study also found that 72 percent of customers reported that quality service would drive their repeat  purchasing, and loyal consumers spend upwards of 67 percent more than new customers. A great customer service experience can turn a dejected customer into a repeat purchaser with the right tactics and approach.

An engaging customer experience is especially important to businesses that strictly have an online presence as they look to draw buyers in without the benefit of a traditional brick-and-mortar store and human-to-human sales experience. While e-commerce sales grew 14.6 percent in 2015, there are many consumers that believe you cannot replace the in-person customer experience, particularly for larger purchases. It is the call center representative's job to reverse this sentiment and prove meaningful retail experiences can happen over the phone.

This is particularly important for an ecommerce company, where the only human-to-human interaction is between a customer service representative and a customer. Whereas a patron can go into a brick-and-mortar store and chat with an associate about products or needs, the interaction that a client has with an e-commerce agent in most circumstances can be the first, last, and only exchange they have with an e-retailer. It is a critical opportunity to differentiate from the competition and show that e-commerce stores can maintain a positive customer relationship.

To deliver value to shoppers, you first must incentivize your call center representatives to deliver the best customer experience possible. Many do not realize they truly are at the front lines of brand loyalty, so they must be encouraged to perform at the highest level at all times. One way to do this is through the process of gamification. Gamification is defined as the incorporation of game elements, such as points and reward systems, to tasks as incentives for people to participate.

Gamification is used to turn potentially challenging and taxing tasks into fun, energetic competitions. Most people naturally have the desire to compete and win, so gamification is a way to tap that existing drive to assure team members have the support they need to deliver top-of-the-line customer experiences.

An example of gamification can be something as simple as leaderboards throughout the call center that display key performance metrics, such as a rating of the representative's responsiveness, helpfulness, and overall performance. In a healthy competitive environment, seeing other representatives at their peak performance receiving five-star reviews and positive comments will push others in the call center to strive for the very same results.

In addition to fostering healthy competition, gamification can also create a more meaningful customer-representative interaction. When customers are able to share their comments after the call for all in the center to see, these individual interactions become more memorable and personal. Team morale increases as representatives discuss and compare their interactions and learn from the constant feedback.

Gamification can also assist call center managers from an internal perspective. Keeping better track of customer feedback and factors such as call rates, talk time, and return/cancellation rates can help identify the performance of individual team members more accurately. If certain representatives are consistently receiving glowing reviews, a manager can look at her specific tactics and use them to train the rest of the team. If some representatives continuously struggle, using specific metrics can help identify measurable ways to help change their approach to ensure success in the future.

Gamification as a concept has existed as far back as one can remember, but only recently have companies began to study and quantify the results of implementing this tactic in their businesses. According to a study by Hamari, Koivisto, and Sarsa that analyzed 24 separate studies on gamification, a majority of the studies that were examined found gamification does indeed produce positive effects and benefits.

Of course, for gamification to be effective it has to be personalized to your work environment. Some gamification tactics might not appeal to every company or employee. If you customize your gamification method to fit the needs of your call center representatives and foster their growth, it is likely your employees will be more motivated to succeed. In a world where an unhappy customer's voice can be amplified on social media with a click of a button, call centers can't afford not to invest in proactive tactics to create a superior customer-retailer experience.

Gerald Major is director of customer experience at CARiD, an online retailer of auto parts and accessories.