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How to Use Gamification to Motivate Your Agents

We recently polled community members to ask if they’re currently using gamification as a part of the training process, and an overwhelming majority (more than 70%) of those who answered weren’t sure what gamification is. The truth is, even if you aren’t familiar with the term, you’ve probably used gamification techniques in some form or fashion. If you’re a Foursquare user you gamify on a regular basis.  So, what exactly does this term mean? In a nutshell, gamification is the use of game-like principles or techniques to solve a problem or teach a lesson. It’s not a new concept, but much of the technology and techniques are new.

Currently, 88% of organizations say they run competitions in the workplace.  But of those, two-thirds say they do it less than once a month, probably because creating, setting up and running competitions can be time consuming and overwhelming. How can organizations integrate competitions and challenges in the day-to-day operations?  The key is having the right technology to simplify and streamline the process.

Last week I spoke with Scott Buchanan of NICE Systems to find out what’s new in gamification technology and how call centers best leverage it for training and development. 

NICE Systems and Bunchball have partnered up to help organizations improve performance among customer-facing and back office employees by using gamification techniques such as virtual challenges, contests, and quests. The joint NICE/Bunchball offering provides businesses an innovative way to incentivize employee excellence, motivate higher levels of service, and motivate behavior that drives results.

According to NICE, many organizations are investing in gamification to drive employee performance and customer engagement. Gartner predicts that “by 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that have managed innovation processes will gamify those processes.”

When I asked Scott how gamification has helped his clients it said it’s simple.

“It’s about motivating people to perform better.  Gamification is not about the game or the mechanics, it’s about motivation.”

Every contact center manager wants to increase agent motivation, but is the use of games in a work setting a bit distracting? Scott said that’s a common concern, but despite popular belief, gamification is not distracting.  In fact, it actually helps employees focus on their goals and their job.

And, no, it’s not just for Millennials (although the process does feel particularly familiar for this age group).  Scott says people of all ages enjoy the gamification process, and with NICE software it’s simple.  Clients simply login to their NICE portal in the morning just as they would login in to email or IM.  The software then assigns “quests”, tracks and records progress throughout the day, and awards “badges” or “merits” at the appropriate time. Basically, if your agents can use email and IM, they can use gamification software.

So what are some practical ways that contact centers can use gamification to improve the training process and increase agent movitation?  The possibilities are endless, but there are two particularly popular ways contact centers are using gamification technology:

  1. As part of the onboarding process
  2. To assist in quality monitoring/assurance

The onboarding and new hire training process can be laborious, overwhelming, and—let’s face it—somewhat boring.  Gamifying the process makes it more interesting, fun, and interactive, but best of all it can be a time saver for the organization.  By taking new hires out of the more traditional classroom training setting and using gamification software on the computer, contact centers can reduce the onboarding time by as much as 90%.  And it’s not just a time saver, gamifying the new hire training process can help make new agents more productive.

Another way to use gamification software is to integrate it into the QA process.  An example: suppose one of your agents has been struggling with AHT.  You could use the NICE software to assign a couple of relevant quests:

  • Keep average call silence below 5% for two consecutive months
  • Keep average silence below 5% for 2 consecutive.

Sample NICE/Bunchball quest

The software would then track the agent’s progress toward accomplishing those quests, and award a merit upon completion.  Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love getting awards and recognition? It’s human nature to be competitive and that’s why gamification makes so much sense, and adds so much value to the learning and development process. 

How can your contact center use gamification to improve operations?  What are you already doing in terms of gamification?  Share your ideas in the comments below.