Gamification and how it can benefit contact centres
Gamification – the use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems - is gaining traction across the world of business. According to Gartner by 2015, 40 percent of Global 1000 organisations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.
So how does this work for the contact centre and how can operations benefit from the transformative affect? The first thing to note is that most contact centres are already using gamification to some extent. Take a walk around any of them and you’ll see scoreboards, league tables and regular competitions to motivate staff and ensure optimum performance. These encourage teams and individuals to pit their wits against each other and the large amount of reporting and statistics available also make it easy to monitor and measure performance to gamify work. But this is a relatively primitive incarnation of the concept, and most contact centres have only implemented the ‘least’ most important element of gamification theory – ‘stuff’ (more on this below).
Gamification by Design
In their seminal book on the subject Gamification by Design, Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham discuss the four cornerstones of the subject - Status, Access, Power, Stuff (SAPS). However not all of the streams are equal, Zichermann’s theory is predicated on Status being the most important with the remaining elements placed in descending importance. Applying each to the contact centre could work in the following ways (but please do share your own views in the comments section below)
Status – this is not just about job title or place in the pecking order. Instead it’s a display of standing that shows ability, achievements or privileges. Zichermann sees this as the key to credibility and acceptance. In a contact centre it should be apparent to a user’s peer group that an individual has a higher status level. This could be something as simple as a different colour scheme or style for the agent interface for senior agents. The purpose is not to demean those that have lesser status but motivate them to work harder to gain it.
Access - providing access rewards is about giving agents the opportunity to interact in a private or special way with the company. Zichermann suggests an access reward might be to give top players the opportunity to earn a dinner with the company CEO. Enabling this sort of reward, perhaps in response to a good idea which has been shared via company feedback tools would be a good way of empowering and motivating all agents.
Power - in gamification, rewards attributable to ‘power’ specifically entitle players to ‘get one over’ on others. Zichermann states this might be in the form of a moderator position (if on a forum or interactive site), or to change the way a site or application operates. Again these examples work well for a contact centre – agents could enhance their status with trusted agents allowed to have their knowledgebase answers used as templates for others, for example. This boosts their personal prestige and shows others best practice, therefore enhancing their power.
Stuff – in gamification theory, ‘stuff’ is the least importanttool at one’s disposal and generally refers to giveaways and cash. Many contact centre managers will have their own view as to how much financial or other rewards act as a motivator and could potentially place this element further up the list. However, contact centres are probably the furthest down the line than most other business functions with Stuff-based reward schemes. What is important is to apportion these rewards fairly and here it’s vital that businesses provide the reports and performance information which can be used to reward users.
Contact centre managers will agree or disagree with various elements of gamification theory but there’s no mistaking the fact that most of them are using some of it already and actually have performance monitoring and feedback tools in place to take it to the next level. Embracing more of its concepts could mean the contact centre achieves some of the transformative benefits that Gartner has identified.