Published: April 22, 2015 | Comments
“Games lubricate the body and the mind. We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”
Games are fun. Not only fun, but multiple studies have shown that games help keep brains firing on all cylinders. These challenges help maintain the links between brain cells, keeping us healthy and mentally sharp...and that’s good for everyone. Games can help groups of people establish and maintain bonds. They can contribute to a person’s confidence and expand their horizons. They can be played at work, at home, in school and on your smartphone. Many groups of people can benefit from playing games—and one of those groups is contact center agents.
Think about it—go on, challenge that gray matter. Agents must be knowledgeable about a lot of information. They must be technologically savvy. They must maintain a positive, helpful attitude regardless of the customer’s attitude or the difficulty of the request. They must multi-task and turn on a dime to fulfill a customer’s request. Customer service is a very challenging job—especially when it’s done well—and staying mentally sharp and engaged is important.
But how can brands keep their agents engaged? It can get tedious to answer the same questions over and over again…to handle the same return issues…to answer call after call after call. Sometimes a challenging issue is welcomed, just to shake things up! Training is necessary for agents to be able to answer those same (boring) questions as well as the challenging ones. But training can be boring. Nearly everyone has participated in a session where a speaker plodded through a presentation, asking people to hold questions until the end (when they are forgotten) and struggled to stay awake. What’s the alternative?
There are lots of alternatives! In-person training. Online training. Role-playing to practice actual customer interactions. Collaborative learning. Video tutorials. The list goes on…with games and gamification being a prominent feature.
Gamification is based on rewards and recognition. People are naturally competitive, whether they admit it or not, and gamification plays into that. Players are rewarded for participation, for outstanding effort or for high scores with points and badges. There is typically a leaderboard that lists the highest scores. It’s all about encouraging people to participate and make the effort to attain leader status—and they are learning and improving along the way. Rewards can be involved—from gift cards to trips to swag or other items—or bragging rights can be the reward. It can be surprising how motivating bragging rights can be…until you think about professional sports teams and it makes more sense.
At LiveOps, we have a variety of training techniques and tools to get our community of 20,000 independent work-at-home agents up to speed and ready to help customers as quickly as possible. The most important training tool is LiveOps University, which allows agents to access learning content 24/7. There are hundreds of courses offered, to help people training to be licensed insurance agents, inbound sales representatives, healthcare representatives or customer service agents. Courses are tailored to focus areas and skill levels and are mostly self-directed—agents complete the course at their own pace, as they move through the lessons.
LiveOps University is built on a social platform that is driven by collaboration and peer-to-peer engagement. There are very few courses that are solely online instruction—the majority have interactive elements that offer opportunities for agent to practice and reinforce their skills. For example, one of the initial courses all agents take is training on our cloud contact center platform. They become familiar with the elements of the platform and practice using it—scheduling work on the platform in blocks as small as 30 minutes, leveraging sales scripts and best practices from the community to deliver best possible services, for instance. This helps immensely as agents begin to take calls and interact with customers. They have a level of confidence in the system and skills they will need that wouldn’t be there without hands-on, role-play-based training.
We also emphasize the visual. It is so much easier to track and understand progress when it is displayed visually, in a color-coded chart or graph. The onboarding dashboards are a great example. When a new agent starts LiveOps training, we provide a roadmap with all of the steps they need to take to complete onboarding. It includes all of the training courses, some practice/role-playing sessions with more experienced agents, instructional demonstrations, video tutorials and on-demand learning tools that must be completed before they can interact with customers. We’ve heard from many agents that the onboarding dashboard was very helpful for them to get a full picture of the process and stay updated on their progress.
And the peer-to-peer interaction element is key to LiveOps’ agent success. We don’t just challenge agents to compete with each other for top scores—we encourage them to support and help each other. Whether it’s a more experienced agent giving advice to a new agent or a “water cooler” discussion in one of the chat forums, LiveOps agents engage with each other on a regular basis. They may be geographically dispersed, but they have strong and supportive relationships—and we couldn’t be prouder of that.
Bringing it back to games—we have those, too. Agents receive star rankings based on their performance in some of the programs. And while agents are pretty supportive of each other…bragging rights about top rankings reign supreme.
As Alice Rendell, one of the 2015 Top 100 Women in Games, said, “Games provide people with that much needed self-affirmation of actions being ‘noticed’ and that our existence has some meaning in the world.” For contact center agents, that is certainly true—they are noticed and have meaningful impacts on others. Agents are essential for customers to have positive brand experiences. Agent training is essential for those positive experiences. So make training and work as much fun as you can…play games!