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Gamification: The Performance Management Transformation Catalyst for Utility Contact Centers

May 20, 2016

Today's dynamic business landscape, no matter the field, offers profound opportunities and attendant challenges. Utility companies, in particular, are routinely faced with emergency conditions and unplanned events that can affect hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of customers - all of whom are looking to speak with a live person. This puts the contact center on the front-line and requires a team of agents who are engaged and armed with the necessary tools.

Gamification's growing record of accomplishment in attracting, retaining, motivating and engaging employees, strengthening customer bonds, and improving business results continues to intrigue across many industries including the utility sector. In fact, gamification's intrinsic allure may be its greatest quality. Unlike traditional contact center productivity, performance management or talent development solutions, it rarely fails to elicit the attention and enthusiasm of senior executives.

Though gamification is generally thought of as a tool to motivate front-line agents and back-office personnel, it can just as effectively serve as a C-level catalyst to update outmoded performance management systems and draw executives directly into the employee engagement process. This dual capacity is instrumental in transforming organizational culture, processes, brand, and engagement to optimize success in today's global marketplace.

There's a lot more to gamification than is implied by the oft-cited but inadequate definition "the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts." Gartner research analyst Brian Burke's definition is much better: "the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals." Burke's inclusion of the "digital" dimension embodies gamification's use of contemporary web application technology, big data and analytics, and user experience design and communications capabilities, which in aggregate, enable reliable, secure and flexible enterprise-scale solutions and therefore the potential for very broad impact.

Further, current gamification platforms provide the scorekeeping apparatus (data warehouses that pull multiple forms of data into a single, usable format, role-based scorecards and dashboards, reporting and analysis features, etc.) required to coordinate gamification goals with business performance logic. Or these platforms can easily integrate with the measurement and assessment systems already in place.

Gamification includes online social networking for coaching, recognition and collaboration, survey and other Voice of the Employee (VoE) communication channels, impactful visualizations and a versatile array of game metaphors or themes that can inspire and align employees in different ways, cross-functionally and among every operational level.

Agent miscommunication and other contact center risk factors are largely mitigated when employees are equipped with stimulating performance management and support tools, multiple channels of communication and entertaining ways to play, compete and thrive. Gamification is not static, and a flexible scorekeeping platform and extensible web application framework provides an ability to keep the experience fresh and compelling while always aligned with the evolving needs of the organization and the well-being of its employees and consumers.

The contact center is inherently complex given the importance and urgency of services provided, rise in business disruption, shifting population demographics, varied nature of the customer experience continuum, typically high rates of turnover and so much more. Though there are no single, simple or quick solutions to this constantly evolving, multifaceted challenge, gamification offers a fresh approach to performance management that has demonstrated tremendous effectiveness in addressing contact center demands in diverse industries.

Moreover, it provides an extraordinarily persuasive catalyst to motivate reluctant, disinterested or indecisive leadership to replace the legacy systems that have long outlived their ability to adequately equip and engage employees and partners. There's no doubt that the pace of change will continue to accelerate. Will your utility contact center be ready?

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Greg Salvato is CEO of contact center employee engagement and performance management software solutions company TouchPoint One (

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