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It's All Fun and Games -- When You Reach Your Call Center Goals
How to implement gamification to boost employee engagement

by SPLICE Software - December 31, 2014

It’s all fun and games -- when you reach your call center goals.

How to implement gamification to boost employee engagement.

Traditionally, organizations have focused on driving new sales to increase revenue. But there is a current trend that shows great gains can come from focusing instead on ideas based on the Pareto Principle -- that 80% of a company's profits come from 20% of its customers. It is becoming clear that focusing on the experience current customers have with your brand at every point of contact surpasses in importance the relentless hunt for new customers. An exemplary customer experience is the new, proven key to growing sales and loyalty and therefore, revenue.

Looking inward.
How can you maximize the customer experience in the call center? It begins with your employees, who are the front-line representatives of your brand. One must understand that employee happiness breeds customer happiness. The quality of the customer’s engagement with the employee, whether the encounter happens in person or in the call center, defines the success of the entire customer journey. Rather than looking outward for new customers to drive sales, you must look inward at your employees and ensure their happiness so they can have a powerful affect on customer contentment and loyalty.

So, to paraphrase Freud, what does an employee want? How can you make them happy?

Studies have shown that engaged employees are happy employees. Employees may experience different levels of engagement throughout their lifespan with your company. What can you do to make that engagement stronger, more consistent and last longer?

The best of sport.
When it comes to trends in employee engagement, gamification is a concept that is gaining ground. It is a powerful tool that can be used to invigorate and inspire employees, using game mechanics and the best aspects of sport to have a positive impact in a non-sporting context: the workplace.

Think about what is so universally beloved about sports: friendly competition, the brotherhood of being on a team, the possibility of reward -- whether emotional or material -- for great performance. These dynamics can be fostered through gamification in the call center to influence employee satisfaction, motivation and productivity for the better.

Another key aspect of sport must be borrowed, as well, based on the proverb that if something can be measured, it can be managed. In sport, keeping track of “points” and changing behavior to accommodate a winning outcome is second nature. Applied in the workplace, performance measurement that is transparent and competitive can engage employees through their natural instinct to win.

Games based on values.
Simply mounting a whiteboard in the call center to tally “wins,” though, is not enough to reap the greatest potential rewards from gamification. Measurement of performance through competition can only be effectively implemented after significant organizational soul-searching, value defining and goal-setting is completed.

Implementing gamification without incorporating clear company values into the competition is akin to asking your employees to run a foot race blind. If the values of the company, and therefore the goals of the company are not specifically defined and crystal clear in the eyes of your employees, you are setting them -- and yourself -- up for frustration and failure.

So you must ask yourself, just what are our company’s core values? You may have already defined them in another exercise. If you haven’t, creating that definition will most likely be harder than you think, but extremely worthwhile for your company in the long run. To start, you might walk around the call center and ask employees what they think the core values of the company are, or should be. Core values can range from the traditional like quality, accountability, creativity, and commitment, to the more unusual like work/life balance, aggressiveness, putting the other guy first, etc. Whatever your core values turn out to be, the fact that they are defined and clear to the employee matters a great deal when it comes to gamification success.

Culture in communication.
Once your company’s core values are defined, you can begin to implement a gamification program that reinforces those values as they are experienced in company culture. Company culture takes many forms, from the physical look and feel of the office to the way employees interact and communicate. Within gamification, the way employees communicate with one another -- just like they do in the break room, for instance -- must be mirrored to be successful.

The sports analogy is again apropos: a key aspect of any winning team is strong communication. The ability to cross-communicate while a game is being played drives superior performance on an individual basis as well as on the team level. If a popular way to compliment a coworker passed in the hallway on a job well done is to give a “thumbs up,” then giving that same signal when competing in the call center game to achieve specific goals draws in the company’s culture to reinforce the compliment and make it more meaningful.

Simple and fun...
Finally, after all the talk of core values, goal definition, communication and measurement is done, it is important to remember that gamified employee engagement is most successful if the game is kept fairly simple and fun. Striking the proper balance between pressure and motivation toward the achievement of goals is key to buy-in and success.

Today’s gamification technologies offer easy-to-follow leaderboards, rules and communication tools with GUIs that keep the competition -- and interaction among competitors -- fun, playful, intuitive and compelling. Competitive status can even now be tracked by employees using mobile apps that let them check individual and team totals anywhere, at any time. What’s more, gamification technology can be easily implemented within a call center quickly and with very little disruption to the existing IT environment.

...and effective.
Studies are beginning to show that gamification can produce a more than 30% increase in performance in an organization. It is a growing concept that offers the right combination of visibility, measurability, motivation and play that all add up to more engaged employees and happier customers. You could say that increasingly today, for organizations that wisely look inward for the answers to increased revenue, it’s all fun and games.

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