Skip to main content

Raising customer service productivity with gameification

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/lenetstan)

Think about your last customer service experience, an occasion when you called a business to receive help about some issue or problem you were having. How was it? Was it frustrating? Satisfying? Or, dare I say – even fun?   

If you are like many people, customer service can seem like a chore. Much of the negative connotations people associate with customer service calls come from low employee engagement, or low levels of motivation among contact center staff. This is easily detectable and quickly leads to negative, unproductive exchanges for the customer.   

But the paradigm is shifting. As in many other domains, the “game” concept is powering a new approach to customer relationship management that leads to happier employees and, as a result, more satisfied customers. But in order to get the most out of this promising new trend, companies need to think outside the box when it comes to the data and metrics they use for it; speech analytics can provide a source for this. 

Mobile apps are consistently using a “game layer” to improve user engagement. Apps for dating, fitness, and even grocery shopping are working in gamification as a way to introduce competition and offer some level of entertainment. Businesses that want to improve their customer service offering can take some lessons from app makers and leverage gamification to boost their staff’s productivity and the overall customer experience. They can also learn from their mistakes, integrating their most valuable lessons into a consistent feedback process that optimizes outcomes for all parties.

Gamification is a great tool for call center managers to improve engagement. But it is important to note that such programs can run the risk of becoming stale.  If for example the same individuals are consistently the “leaders” in terms of metrics, then the other staff might lose interest and become complacent. This complacency leads to low engagement among the call center staff, which leads to serious issues including: low employee retention, increased noncompliance risks, declining sales, and a lowered customer experience. Call center managers need another way to boost involvement with gamification that goes beyond scoring traditional metrics such as: 

  • First-call resolution 
  • Number of dials per day/hour/week 
  • Percentage of calls handled (by type of call) 
  • Average handle time 

Advanced speech analytics platforms that record and transcribe 100 percent of calls provide call centers with new layers of data and insight into agent performance and how well agents engage with the callers. 

Introducing Speech Analytics-based Metrics 

The metrics that are available to call centers with speech analytics go beyond just the “number of calls handled per hour” and other metrics traditionally used by centers, and dive deeper into how the agent aided or hindered the customer experience and journey. The most advanced of these analytics solutions can identify instances where the agent used inappropriate language or when they did not closely follow scripted compliance language. Supervisors can utilize the analytics data to provide instant feedback to agents, helping to correct poor behaviors and instantly recognizing positive interactions.   

In a gamification setting, an analytics-based metric could determine the customer’s sentiment during the call, which could be extrapolated to a “customer happiness” leaderboard to provide incentives for staff to politely interact with the customers thereby earning recognition and rewards for their efforts. The agents who spend a little more time with the callers to fully and cheerfully explain the issue at hand can receive rewards in a similar fashion versus agents who speed through calls in order to improve their “handling” metrics. 

Offering Multiple Rewards   

Structurally, the most successful gamification programs for call centers will offer multiple types of awards with varying time periods. This is especially important for Millennial-aged service staff who are used to immediate feedback, and are more likely to respond to daily or hourly award targets/leaderboards, as opposed to monthly or quarterly. And gamification of any kind relies upon offering tangible and desirable rewards, so call center managers should carefully review what types of rewards typically garner the most attention and participation among the team. Speech analytics enables this type of structure because it allows supervisors to tie performance rewards into multiple metrics, everything from “empathy score” to “customer satisfaction levels.” 

Tying the rewards directly into compensation is a straightforward way to relate high performance with customer satisfaction and monetary gain. Gamification rules could be set daily or weekly, and allow agents to dynamically adjust their earnings based on how they perform relative to a specific metric.   

Call center managers can be completely transparent in sharing the agent scoring because it’s based on actual data that is gleaned from the analytics platform, across all interactions, not just a sample. This contrasts sharply to traditional methods of managers assessing agents by listening to a random sampling of calls and then interpreting the agent’s performance. Using interaction transcription driven analytics removes guesswork and unfairness from the equation, and effectively “levels the playing field” so each agent can be rewarded based solely on their merits.   

Generating Agent Improvements 

Agents that are scored on their ability to improve the customer experience will continually improve their listening and communication skills. They are more aware of the effect that their demeanor and word choice play on the customer’s actions, and how it corresponds to their own job performance and potential financial rewards. The customer experience is elevated when the agents are more engaged in actual interactions.    

Speech and interaction analytics platforms that analyze 100 percent of conversations are not only vital for developing a rich gamified rewards program, they’re also essential training tools.   

Well-designed gamification platforms that include speech analytics can create internal environments where successes and improvement are celebrated,not ignored. Agents that are presented with several avenues for achieving recognition and rewards are more likely to improve their performance across multiple metrics. Supervisors can leverage this willingness to learn by presenting top performers as trainers to the rest of the team. 

Gamified call centers that utilize speech analytics can offer deeper and more meaningful challenges and rewards to agents and supervisors. It provides firms with a more impactful way to boost revenue by recognizing and encouraging agent achievement, streamlining onboarding, and reducing costly agent churn.     

Scott Kendrick, VP of Marketing at CallMiner (opens in new tab) 

Image Credit: Lenetstan / Shutterstock

Scott has 20 years’ experience in software product management, design, and marketing for everything from shrink-wrap consumer applications to enterprise cloud solutions. Scott holds a BScE in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University (Ontario, Canada), and is certified in Pragmatic Marketing and SCRUM.