Featured Image for the blog: How to Build a Call Center Gamification Program that Gives Agent Engagement and Customer Satisfaction a Long-Term Boost

You know the feeling when you get sucked into a game of Mario Kart? You keep running laps until you throw enough bananas behind you to earn first place. Tirelessly, you race to improve and beat your competitors. It’s the healthy competition that keeps you engaged and constantly learning how to do better.

Turns out, when you bring this same air of healthy competition to your contact center environment, you increase productivity, agent engagement, and deliver better service to your customers.

Research on game-based motivation in the workplace proves gamification programs with the right execution make 90% of employees more productive and improve workplace engagement by 48%.

Liven up your contact center culture and encourage your agents to learn from each other to better handle customer problems. Create a call center gamification program to help your agents meet some of your hard-to-reach KPIs, or to give your team the morale boost they need.

Whatever your intention, a well-crafted gamification program can build up your agents’ confidence in their roles and make them happier at work. And they’ll hand that confidence and happiness right back to your customers during their service experiences. With a detailed gamification program centered around improving your agent and customer experience, everyone gets to stand at the winners’ podium in the end.

Follow these five steps to gamification to create a lasting, beneficial program for your team of agents.

1. Define the goals of your call center gamification program.

For starters, determine what you want out of a gamification program. Is your team struggling with a few specific KPIs you want to challenge them to improve? Are your agents less productive than they can be? Or, is workplace engagement low and you need to give it a boost?

Define the “why” behind your gamification program, so you can rally your agents around a common purpose. Once you have your program mission set, create a timeline for how long the program will last. If you’re targeting a few specific KPIs, you might create a short-term program that only lasts a few months. But if the purpose of your program is to improve your agents’ engagement, it may be something you implement long-term and iterate on often.

Then, develop specific and measurable goals to track your progress along the way. Choose milestones and check-in points based on the timeline you set. And create a target end goal, like increase CSAT by 5% in 90 days, for the course of your gamification program.

Want to see what KPIs to track for better results in your contact center? Add these 8 KPIs to your management toolbox. 

2. Choose a program and incentives your agents want.

To get buy-in from your team, create a program worth getting excited about. Don’t create a program that requires a ton of additional work from your already over-burdened agents. And create a scoring system they’ll appreciate. Of all the different gamification programs out there, employees respond most to rewards-based programs. There’s nothing like a stellar prize to liven up the environment and make your agents feel valued. Coming in a close second and third, though, employees also prefer point-scoring systems and leaderboards (these drive an element of friendly competition) compared to programs that hand out badges or offer up one-time challenges.

If you’re rocking and rolling with the number one pick, a rewards-based program, choose incentives that make it worth it to play along. Chances are, I’m going to put my competition clothes on and give 100% every day if it means I’ll earn another vacation day. But if I’m battling with my desk neighbor over a branded mug or 10-year old company t-shirt, I’ll probably only participate when it’s convenient for me.

Take pulse of your agents’ interests and needs before you decide on incentives for your call center gamification program. Send out a survey ahead of time or bring it up in your team meetings and 1:1 conversations. Pick prizes that they’ll value and make them feel respected and your participation rates will soar.

3. Communicate the rules and purpose of the program.

It’s all fun and games until you spend a bunch of time and effort gamifying work only to see no results. As a manager, communicate the purpose of your newly-minted program to your agents. And reinforce it regularly. Your agents may be battling it out for prizes on the contact center floor, but the fun will be short-lived if you don’t connect the purpose back to your mission of helping customers.

Your agents thrive when they’re connected to a larger purpose and company goals. Don’t assume they’ll only participate for prizes. In fact, there’s statistical proof that gamification impacts a few key intrinsic motivators. Here’s what Talent LMS found in their annual survey.

Call center gamification improves performance with the right approach

Draw on your agents’ intrinsic motivation and connect them to the common cause behind the fun and games. The enthusiasm will last longer, your results will be better, and your customers will be happier.

4. Coach your agents through it.

Nothing kills enthusiasm for a contest faster than seeing the same person win over and over. Sure, the scoring might be accurate, and your rock star agent might actually deserve those repeat trophies, but it discourages other team members from giving it their all.

Set up your scoring system to foster increased competition. Like, scoring based on an average of many different metrics. Or, break contests down into different categories so more agents have the opportunity to compete in areas where they excel.

Aside from scoring, work with agents individually when you see them struggling. With your program and incentives in place, it will be easy to identify who isn’t putting in the effort, and who really wants to win but needs a little guidance. The ultimate goal of your gamification program is to improve your contact center environment, whether that’s focused on agent performance or morale. Be a resource for your team and use the program as an opportunity to engage with your agents. Serve up relevant exercises and lessons to guide them through the challenges you create, and level-up your contact center performance and morale in the process.

5. Evaluate your successes and iterate.

Just like no one wants to race the same track on Mario Kart over and over, your agents don’t want to participate in the same contests every day. Shake up your rules, incentives, and challenges to keep your agents engaged in the program.  If not, your agents will get bored and your program could have the complete opposite effect – lower morale and irritated agents handing out poor customer service experiences.

Change your rules to help push specific KPIs. Or create challenges to solve a few really difficult outstanding cases. See what proved successful in month one and use the same framework but different metrics of focus for month two. Running a successful call center gamification program means you’re constantly evaluating and improving your program to fit your business needs. Use data from previous programs to inform your decision-making and keep challenges fresh to solidify your success.

Aside from the uptick in productivity, keeping your agents engaged fights off terrible attrition rates and looming negativity in your contact center, too. Find out more on how to use engagement to empower your agents and fight attrition in our article over here!

We originally published this post on February 6, 2018, and we updated it for new insight on July 19, 2019.