How to Creatively Motivate and Retain Employees in the Service Center
Empowering contact center excellence for 30 years!

How to Creatively Motivate and Retain Employees in the Service Center

gamification

At times I wish the word “game” was not part of the word “gamification.”  While it is certainly an important element, the principle goes far beyond the idea of playing games.  “Creatification” might be a better word to describe what is really happening.  As Robin Jenkins defines it, “Gamification is about applying the same principles that have always inspired people – goals, status and rewards – to motivate people to accomplish high-value actions.”  You are providing a unique and creative infrastructure that taps into the intrinsic motivators of your employees - the kind that will bring them to the next level.

There are so many ways to make gamification happen in your workplace.  While there are countless systems and automated tools available, it is much more than buying a piece of software.  A personalized effort is required to create a true value-add program.   While it can be helpful especially for “moment of need” training, software rarely changes culture.  In the end, it all comes down to authentic human relationships.  Here are a few of the key things we learned while gamifying the experience in our service center:

Know your audience - Gamification should not be a “top down” effort.  Include the individuals who are going to be participating in the program while creating it.  Understanding the interests of your employees and what motivates them will be paramount to the program’s success.  Also consider the goal you are looking to accomplish.  Is this a training program or an employee experience program?  The two will look very different.  For Kevin Hegebarth (@kghegebarth on Twitter) gamification is “a formal program of collecting rewards based on the attainment of well-documented goals.”  The concept will look very different when applied in different support environments.

Competitiveness vs. Collaboration – For many gamification programs, it is all about competition and moving to the top of the leaderboard.  These types of initiatives often work well in a sales environment.  Be careful when choosing one of these for your group, as they can often do more harm than good.  In a service center, generally a more collaborative approach is best.  Reward the individual behaviors that create success for the larger team and for your customers.

Always Mix It Up – This is not a program you can put out at the beginning of the year and have it run on autopilot.  Think about why we are drawn to games….they simulate a unique and exciting experience.  As soon as that game ceases to challenge us or surprise us, we will stop playing it.  Authoring a gamification program requires you to think like a script writer for the show LOST.  You have to bring your group on a journey that will keep them interested and excited for the long haul.  As soon as you lose your passion for the program, your employees are immediately behind.  Find a couple of leaders you can partner with to share the load and add to the pipeline of creative ideas.
 

* Looking for some specific things to try?  Here are a few of our favorites:


Wheel of Happiness

Wheel of Happiness – This is a staple of our program.  The team elects a “rock star” each week that then spins the wheel of happiness.  There is a whole variety of fun rewards on there, and we change them around regularly.  Some of the rewards are for the individual; others are shared by the whole team.  The real magic is with peers recognizing peers for outstanding behaviors.  I must give Zappos credit for this original idea for an event they did in 2010 and we have since modified.  You can order your own dry erase wheel of happiness here.

Lego Feedback – Give your employees a way to “build their reputation” with customers.  Purchase a base plate for each person.  Whenever positive feedback is received on surveys or otherwise, they are rewarded with different shapes and colors of Legos.  It gives them a chance to build their own “customer legacy towers” in whatever fashion they see fit.  It is always nice to see a tangible evidence of the great work that is being done is a service center.

Support Film Festival – Have people work in teams and create funny videos.  We ordered a bunch of “academy awards” off of Amazon and gave them out for different categories such as best actor and actress.  The event itself is a blast, but one of the greatest things is that the videos last forever.  When new hires come in we get to show off our videos and bring them into the culture right away.  This one is also great for team building.

There are thousands more and countless ideas yet to be tried.  Don’t be afraid to try brand new things!  The worst that can happen is that you don’t do something again, and your employees will appreciate the effort even if it is not executed perfectly.  Following these steps will give you the foundation to a great program.  First, learn your audience and what motivates them.  Second, decide the behaviors and goals that need to be achieved to bring your team toward the desired state.  Finally, choose some unique elements to gamify the experience and make their work experience something special.  May you play your way to happy employees and happy customers for years to come!

Engaged Team



Topics: Learning & Development, People Management, Culture & Morale

Related

More from Nate Brown

Comments (1)

Leave a comment

Please sign in to leave a comment. If you don't have an account you can register for free here.

Forgot username or password?

   

Rick Clarke — 7:43AM on Apr 17, 2015

Great article Nate!
Recognizing small achievements through gamification is very successful. As you mentioned it is important to keep the program fresh and to ensure the recognition ties back to the corporate mission, values and goals. As all contact center platforms provide metrics for the agent activities why not use these metrics to automate the recognition? The manager and peers still provide the personal touch point, but why not use automation from a recognition application to automatically award points based on the pre-determined criteria. All the heavy lifting is done by the application and the employee can redeem from a variety of awards or bank the awards for the perfect gift. Using Single Sign-On technology the application seamlessly integrates with the current technology. This cuts out the program administration while rewarding the employees for their accomplishments. What gets recognized gets repeated! An effective recognition program will not only boast morale and engagement but can increase motivation, performance and retention! As a Certified Recognition Professional with more than 25 years recognition experience I would be pleased to help out. Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like assistance or have questions with recognition.

QuickPoll

Does your contact center have a policy regarding allowing agents who wish to apply for internal company positions outside the contact center?

No, we don’t have a formal policy
Yes, agents must work in the contact center for at least 1 year before applying for other positions
Yes, agents must work in the contact center for at least 6 months before applying for other positions
More Polls