Call Center Gamification a Holistic Approach for the Call Center Agent Lifecycle
Illustration by Matt Brooks

Climbing a traditional career ladder is not for everyone. Some agents may be perfectly content to spend their entire careers in the contact center while steadily gaining skills and expertise. It is critical to offer opportunities for seasoned agents to continue to grow and to give them a sense of accomplishment for applying their skills.

In the data-driven contact center environment, gamification platforms have proven to be an effective management tool for targeting skills development and driving long-term performance improvement. Solutions like Bunchball’s Nitro gamification platform leverage data analytics to generate performance-enhancing data to identify the contributing behaviors that lead to successful outcomes. Managers can then use these insights to provide agents with a step-by-step improvement plan that enables them to achieve their personal success goals while ensuring that the business hits its targets.

Molly Kittle, VP Digital Strategy at Bunchball, recommends a holistic development approach that encourages ongoing learning and developing throughout the entire employee lifecycle. “We think of learning and development in terms of the employee journey map,” she explains. “We look at the activities that exist across the different components of the agent’s job, and weave them together into a program that is more holistically engaging.” The key, she adds, is to identify the behaviors that contribute to positive outcomes and focus on modifying those behaviors at the right time based on the employee’s need for improvement.

Early in the employee lifecycle, for instance, companies can speed up the onboarding process by using gamification tools to reinforce certain behaviors taught in new-hire training, such as schedule adherence, or by engaging new-hires in learning with a series of challenges that, once accomplished, allows them to unlock new levels of training.

Once agents are fully trained and on the floor, gamification tools provide managers with visibility into their team’s performance and help to identify those individuals who are falling short as well as which skills or behaviors need improvement. On the agents’ side, personalized dashboards provide transparency into and control over their progress, which translates into a better employee experience.

Gamification is a useful tool for engaging millennials who were raised on video games, but what about older employees? It’s important to tailor the motivational approach and rewards to specific employee segments, Kittle points out. “We use a series of focus groups and behavioral patterns to segment the call center’s staff into cohorts of employees,” she says. “We can then tailor specific challenges, accomplishments or missions to those subsets.”

For instance, if you have a group of new-hires who are in an initial training stage, you might group them into one cohort and tailor a certain set of accomplishments to them, such as learning about different products or call-handling techniques. Another cohort may be your veteran agents who are highly experienced top performers. “These are the people you want to treat extra special,” she says. “You want to make sure that they feel like they have autonomy, and that they have some kind of deference, such as being leveraged as mentors to some of the newer people in the employee population.”

Each cohort has customized dashboards so they can compare their performance against others in their specialized subset. Kittle adds that it’s important also to tailor the rewards to each employee subset. “Younger, newer employees might enjoy rewards that have a monetary value, like gift cards, merchandise and tchotchkes, but ‘stuff’ is less important to more senior agents. They typically want things that have an emotional resonance, such as status, access to special perks that other people don’t have, like preferred shifts, and power—for instance, the ability to be involved in projects or have a special helper role.”

A holistic employee journey approach to development focuses on targeting the right response to the right group of people at the right time in their lifecycle, Kittle says. “But at the end of the day, autonomy, mastery, purpose, progress and social interactions—we all want those things,” she says. “We’re human; they’re our intrinsic motivators. If you tap into those in an authentic way that speaks to the voice of your employee community, then you’re going to have positive outcomes.”