Article published on NoJitter.com »
In short, focus + competition + sharing = higher
productivity and less employee turnover.
Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about.
They didn't do it for individual glory.
They did it because
they loved one another.
-- Vince Lombardi
I'm sure we've all been asked to name our worst job. For me,
it was washing dishes at John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch. I
worked the breakfast shift and clocked in at the absurd
hour of 5:00 in the morning. Not only did I have to put
up with scalding hot water, an overbearing chef, and
harried servers, but it was my job to make gallons of
freshly squeezed orange juice. My hands were already
cracked and dried from scrubbing countless pots and pans,
and the last thing I wanted was to douse them in citric
acid. Needless to say, the job was painful -- physically
as well as mentally -- and I was never happier than the
day I gave notice I was leaving. As I recall, the chef's
response was, "Good."
Putting bad jobs aside for a moment, over the years, I've
spent a lot of time in contact centers. I've worked with IT
directors, debugged errant scripts, designed skillsets, and
sat with supervisors and agents as they went about their
work. From highly functional customer care centers to
chew-them-up-and-spit-them-out call center sweat shops,
I've pretty much seen it all.
In regard to those worst case contact centers, I am sure
that I could find quite a few agents who would label that
as their worst job ever. Beyond low wages, I expect that
most would base their assessment on the dehumanizing aspect
of the work. Instead of being treated as important members
of a team with a common purpose, they were little more than
blips on wallboards that constantly reminded them of how much
they weren't accomplishing. Like me and my dirty dishes,
piles of unfinished work were always seen as more important
than the stacks of spotless china.
A Millennial Workforce
As a father of three millennials ranging from 26 to nearly
33 years old, I am well aware of how that generation differs
from me and baby boomers like me. Most striking is their
affinity for teamwork. While trying not to stereotype too
much, they seem to like to work in packs and thrive on
communication and feedback. It's not that they cannot
function on their own, but being a part of something larger
is preferred to acting on their own.
This is certainly true when it comes to their social lives.
They cut their teeth on the likes of Facebook and have
immersed themselves in technology that allows them to share
what they are doing and where they are doing it in real-time.
Whether it's showing off a new pair of shoes or what they
had for lunch that day, they proudly live their lives
publicly. But how does this behavior carry over to the
enterprise, specifically in the contact centers where many
millennials begin their careers?
The Gamification of the Contact Center Agent
As millennials become the backbone of the customer care
workforce, they are met with a system focused on the
individual. Rather than being immersed in the nearly constant
sharing they are accustomed to, their attention is now
solely on the customer he or she is serving at any given
point in time. So, while these workers may be part of a
team, any sense of teamwork is greatly reduced from what
they are used to.
The folks at contact center solution provider inContact
recognized this disconnect and decided to do something
about it. They began with the premise that people work
best when they feel respected for who they are and how
they are wired to perform. So, beyond simply providing
agents with dashboards for real-time and historic data,
they added a social component that allows agents to measure
effectiveness in the same ways with which they grew up.
While I wouldn't go so far as to say that inContact has
turned its inView reporting solution into the contact center
equivalent of Candy Crush, they've added a definite aspect
of gamification. Agents can create their own metrics and
objectives that can be shared with the rest of their team.
These metrics can contain the tried-and-true call center
measurements such as hold time and in-queue, but they can
also extend to concepts such as deals won, deals lost, and
the dollar amount of customer interactions. Thresholds can
be set for achievements that allow agents to earn badges,
ribbons, and virtual money.
To explain, a team can agree upon a set of metrics, create
group or individual challenges, and measure the success of
all team members in real time. For example, Debbie might bet
Claire that she will close more deals in an hour than Claire.
Claire can accept the bet, and inView will show their
progress throughout the challenge. The winner gets bragging
rights, and organizations have the ability attach other
forms of rewards for outstanding performance.
The results of these competitions goes beyond simple badges.
Agents no longer feel isolated from the rest of their team.
Even those who aren't participating in a challenge can take
pleasure from the horse race. Plus, rather than having to
wait for a supervisor's feedback or an end-of-day/end-of-week
report, Debbie, Claire, and the rest of the agents get
instantaneous updates as to how well they are doing.
A Little Healthy Competition is Good for the Soul
Let's face it, whether we are acting as individuals or in
groups, we all like winning. Better still, we want to know
that what we are doing is making a difference. Not only does
gamification add a little fun to what might be an otherwise
tedious job, it directs agents to concentrate on meaningful
metrics. Agents are made aware of what they need to focus on
and real-time rewards give them a sense of satisfaction. And
back to those millennials, it brings a stronger sense of
team to those 20 and 30 somethings.
In short, focus + competition + sharing = higher productivity
and less agent turnover.
The Contact Center and Beyond
While researching this article, I did a little poking around
the Internet and found that the folks at inContact aren't the
only ones hoping to add gamification to contact centers
environments. TouchPoint One
offers a product they call
that also strives to strengthen the employee experience
and drive business results.
Think of Acuity as a score keeper engine for all kinds of
metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Gamification,
which is essentially a specialized metric, is provided by
the A-Game component to Acuity. A-Game can be utilized by
individuals and teams to motivate and measure performance
with a fun collection of challenges and games.
Unlike inContact's complete contact center solution, Acuity
is an overlay to any vendor's offering. With its collection
of dashboards and games, Acuity can work alongside Avaya,
Genesys, 8x8, Five9, or any other solution that an enterprise
Another thing that makes Acuity unique is that it doesn't
require a contact center in order to motivate and/or intensify
an individual or team. A-Game's challenges can be utilized
by any worker regardless of his or her job description. This
means that gamification can be added to both the folks
working on the loading dock and the gray-suits in the legal
department. In fact, I don't see any reason why a company
couldn't have a C-Suite challenge to pit executive against
executive. I would pay to watch that.
As I have made perfectly clear over my hundreds of articles
for No Jitter, I am no spring chicken. However, I am not a
grumpy old hermit who wants to sit behind a computer screen
all day long without communicating with my coworkers. I like
atta-boys as much as the next SIP geek. I like being
recognized for meeting goals and accomplishing difficult
tasks. Adding gamification to my job might lead to higher
employee satisfaction ... and when Andrew is happy, everybody
Now, let's pretend that I am 27 again (don't I wish), and my
entire life has been centered on group projects, regular
feedback, social media, and the technology that connects
them all together. Would I want to be thrust into a job that
isolates me from my coworkers and the world in which I grew
up? Absolutely not. That's where techniques such as gamification
can turn anyone into a happy, aggressive (in a good way),
productive, focused, long-term employee.
Article published on NoJitter.com »