Call Centers Are Tailor-made for WFM Gamification

Many people think the earliest example of gamification in the business world is S&H Green Stamps in the final years of 19th century America. With each purchase, participating retailers would give shoppers a certain number of stamps which they would paste into books. Getting the stamps into the books was often a family affair: very much a game. They would then redeem their stamp books for merchandise. That principle, of course, is going on in retail everywhere to this day. With and without the stamps.

Rewarding customer purchases en masse was the start, but it was the emergence of data that drove the next step in the evolution of gamification across business. Detailed, comprehensive data about buyers and buyer’s behavior meant that games could be individualized, and the rewards targeted to the customer’s behavior and preferences. You see that with supermarkets, banks, department stores—it’s in play across the board: from the U.S. Army to Starbucks.

The next phase began only recently. It’s the one that involves us: the application of game theory to the workplace. Companies of all sorts use Gamification to motivate, reward and improve employee performance. And among workplaces, it’s the call center where workforce gamification works best of all.

Here’s why.

  • The call center is, by its very nature, a competitive environment. Your agents face two competitors. The first is the other agents who similarly strive to be best. And the second is themselves, as they work to achieve personal bests every day. Gamification motivates them to beat both those adversaries by continually rewarding individual, team, and center-wide achievements. Using competitive game theory to motivate competitive people is a perfect fit.
  • You can quantify, track and measure virtually every critical point of agent action and behavior, using the same basic data collected by all your call center technologies. Every detail of individual, team, shift and center performance is gathered. FCR rates. Time to document. Closed cases. Upsell percentage. With so many points of knowledge, a strong gamification initiative can reward, motivate and improve every aspect of employee performance.
  • The results are immediate. If someone moves up from a Silver to a Gold badge by improving Speed to Answer, you realize the value of that right away. Costs per call go down, call handle rates go up, abandon rates drop . . . all instantly. (It works the other way too—a Gold badge becoming Bronze is a Red flag.)
  • Call centers are high-pressure environments. Introducing gamification into that kind of workplace doesn’t make the job easier, but it makes it just a little more fun. We’ve found something interesting. When you read about “badges” and “trophies” they sound like fluffy little icons on the employee’s portal page. But the truth is, for the agents, they come to represent something meaningful and significant to them . . . which is made all the more so when there are relevant rewards attached to personal and competitive achievements.

So if you think about it, the call center may very well be the place where gamification achieves its own highest state of evolution.