Game the System: Three Ways Gamification Can Improve Agent Performance

Gamification--the use of standard rules of play and a scoring system in a nontraditional game setting--is an increasingly popular way for companies to engage their customers and motivate employees. The rising popularity of gamification is due in part to the entry of the video game-savvy Millennial generation into the workforce.

According to Gartner Research, more than 70 percent of Global 2000 companies will offer at least one gamified application by the end of 2014. The idea is catching on because it's an effective way to foster friendly competition among coworkers, improving performance and increasing productivity.

The widespread adoption of gamification strategies and evidence of measurable improvements in agent engagement, motivation, performance, and retention is making more contact center managers willing to give this approach a try. Following are tips that can help ensure a smooth rollout.

1. Define performance goals and create game objectives around them. The key to successful gamification is to build the game around performance objectives. Contact center managers typically use analytics to identify areas where efficiency and effectiveness gains can be made. Once the goals are defined, managers can structure gamification elements around them. For example, quality targets, such as 95 percent script adherence, 95 percent customer satisfaction, attendance, training program compliance, etc., can be converted into points.

"When contact center managers define objectives and consistently recognize employee accomplishments, they create a more engaged workforce," says Barry Knack, director of education at Uptivity. "With the right gamification strategy, contact center managers can improve overall morale and motivation while retaining talented employees."

2. Develop a leaderboard system to recognize top performers and display overall results. A successful gamification strategy includes awareness-generating tools such as leaderboards, award announcements, standings updates, and more to keep participants involved as well as to foster friendly competition among teams and individuals. Badges that reward agents for reaching goals can also motivate peers to achieve success.

While some managers may be concerned that gamified elements of a contact center's performance program could be distracting, most contact centers that implement an effective gamification strategy find, on the contrary, that continued focus on company goals and frequent feedback on performance heighten employee awareness and engagement.

3. Create a flexible gamification structure. Another key success factor is built-in flexibility in the gamification structure. Gamification works best when it allows managers to reward agents for outstanding performance and define and change targets. It's also important to remember that goals will evolve over time, so the gamification structure needs to be able to capture changes to stay current.

The ideal gamification structure also makes it possible for managers to reward employees for taking the initiative--to make improvements that were not on their to-do list. Managers can create a specific category for proactive achievements to encourage other employees to do the same.

Gamification is a hot trend because it has a proven track record of success. When combined with an awareness campaign that continually highlights achievements online and offline; accurate, real-time status reporting;, and support across all levels within the organization, a gamification program can significantly improve engagement, efficiency, and effectiveness. For contact center managers who are looking for a competitive edge, gaming the system is the way to go.

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Posted October 23, 2014