Gamification Matters in the Modern Contact Center

Agent churn is one of the top challenges impacting contact centers. In fact, a recent study where Aberdeen surveyed 354 contact center leaders worldwide revealed that high turnover across top-performing agents is the second top challenge impacting their workforce optimization (WFO) activities.

Agents leave companies for myriad reasons: poor pay, lack of career progression, toxic work atmosphere, etc. Data from our survey shows that a sense of empowerment is among the top three factors influencing agent engagement and performance.

There's good news for modern contact center leaders seeking to improve agent engagement. It isn't just financial factors that influence agent satisfaction and performance, both of which ultimately have a direct impact on customer experience (CX) results. Providing agents with the right non-financial rewards and incentives also helps contact centers boost agent engagement. In fact, data from our recent WFO survey shows that best-in-class firms are 40 percent more likely to use gamification as part of their WFO programs, compared to their lower-performing counterparts. These top performers distinguish themselves through 78 percent greater agent retention rates and 32 percent greater agent productivity, compared to their peers.

While top performing contact centers use gamification more widely than their counterparts, it doesn't mean that any gamification program will help all contact centers transform their results. To achieve maximum return on investment from gamification, companies must use the right features to fit their needs. Since each business is unique, each contact center leader should closely assess the priorities of current and potential agents to determine the non-financial rewards and incentives that are most likely to motivate them.

Table 1 shows the most widely adopted gamification features by best-in-class firms with a successful agent engagement program.

Table 1: Which Gamification Features Boost Agent Engagement?

Gamification Features (n=354)
Aberdeen, May 2019

Companies with a Formal Agent Engagement Program

Leaderboards or progress bars


Recognition: reputation or status as a subject matter expert (SME) or thank you message from management


Points or virtual currencies


Levels of attainment (black belt, etc.)


Programs or quests




Privileges: ability to determine own schedule, extra paid-time off


Conveniences: parking spot, dry cleaning


Source: Contact Center Executives' Agenda 2019, Aberdeen, May 2019

The above table shows that features designed to reflect and recognize each agent's performance are most widely used by companies that enjoy the greatest annual improvement in agent retention and productivity. The top-ranking features are leaderboards and progress bars where each agent within the company can observe her own performance in respect to her peers. Following by a small margin is recognition from senior leaders across the company. Both features relate to individual pride in performance and ego, which means that providing agents with a platform through which they can take pride in their work and get recognized for their strong performance helps contact centers improve overall agent engagement and performance.

Interestingly, features designed to provide convenience to employees, such as a dedicated parking spot for the agent of the month or free dry-cleaning, are less widely adopted by firms that excel in agent engagement programs. But this doesn't mean that these gamification features don't work effectively. Agents in some companies might be more motivated by these non-financial benefits. However, overall, the data shows us that agents are more likely to be motivated by factors that influence their pride and sense of accomplishment versus factors that provide them with greater convenience.

Want to learn more about other WFO best practices and trends? Check out recent research by Aberdeen.

Omer Minkara is a vice president and principal analyst covering contact center and customer experience management at Aberdeen. Follow him on Twitter @omerminkara.