Often considered an organization’s most valuable asset, employees are increasingly growing disengaged in the workplace, presenting businesses with a number of concerns relating to employee turnover, productivity, and customer satisfaction. In fact, a recent Gallup poll has found 70% of Americans are not engaged in their jobs, costing an estimated $350 billion in lost productivity each year—and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. As it relates to contact centers specifically, agent turnover rates currently average 35% across all call centers, 50% in larger ones, and 60% in those performing outbound campaigns, costing anywhere from 60-200% of an employee’s salary. And as employee satisfaction continues to play a pivotal role in both profitability and the overall customer experience, the need for call centers to create a more engaging work environment quickly becomes clear.
So what are the most often cited agent frustrations in call centers? Here you go:
- Little coaching and feedback
- Lack of recognition
- Repetitive tasks
- Unclear company/personal goals and targets
- Lack of collaboration
- Quality of equipment
The role of gamification in your call center.
As contact centers begin exploring new and creative ways to retain happy, productive, and engaged employees, many have turned to gamification, or the application of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. In fact, Gartner predicts more than 50% of organizations will gamify their innovation processes by 2015. Providing employees with real-time views of eachother’s performance (good or bad), using various KPIs and metrics, gamification strives to create “healthy-competition” to continuously keep the workforce engaged and motivated. In addition, it offers supervisors a more effective means by which to recognize top performers, which according to 44% of contact center managers, plays a crucial role in improving employee satisfaction. In essence, gamification helps make the workplace feel less like work and more like fun, while enhancing overall productivity and employee morale.
But as gamification gathers steam, its success is contingent on the pre-existence of a few key components:
The Right Technology: While any focus on employee retention can easily lend itself to a discussion regarding training, employee motivation, and goals, the fact remains technology also plays a significant part in why agents choose to stay. In fact, 56% have attributed agent success to having access to the right equipment/solution in order to perform at the levels expected by both management and consumers. And while gamification addresses how to motivate employees to be successful, it is contingent on the existing environment already being suitable for it. But with 60% of failed first call resolutions attributed to an agent lacking access to customer data when it matters most – at the time of the interaction – any amount of gamification will likely fail to make a dent in the underlying root cause of why agents and clients are unhappy. In other words, while gamification is an important new approach to motivating agents to perform, if the primary culprit for poor performance is technological and not psychological, the use of gamification alone may prove misguided and disappointing.
Coaching: The advocates of workforce optimization strongly believe agent performance and success is heavily dependent on the existence of ongoing coaching platforms rather than training ones – they are right. While gamification relies on healthy competition to motivate employees, the premise is partly based on the assumption anyone can “win”. However, agents are not always created equal. And so without the proper coaching and collaboration in place to grow each individual, the application of any form of gamification can simply become a means for the rich (top performers) to get richer and serve to undermine the initial intent – to motivate performance. As such, for gamification to succeed, the ability and desire to collaborate, train, and set reachable goals is crucial.
Clear Goals: Perhaps the most obvious but often overlooked aspect of any successful call center is the daily use of goals and metrics to help drive the right actions. And yet 31% of agents will claim a lack of understanding of personal and company goals and targets. For gamification to work, a clear understanding of what is expected needs to exist. If so, than healthy competition can help accelerate how quickly goals are met or even motivate a team to exceed them.
There is certainly a role gamification can play in today’s fast-paced call center. However, as with any solution and approach, it is likely not a silver bullet but rather an added quiver to be used in conjunction with others to drive success.