Over the last decade, the drive to ever increasing productivity has resulted in Workforce Optimisation becoming the mantra for thousands of contact centres across the world.
This growing obsession with call centre monitoring software has led to a tendency to focus on the data, and then drill these numbers into agents’ brains, day after day after day.
The result? A lot of numbers weighing down on the workforce and leading to dramatic drop in call centre agent motivation.
Technology is not an end in itself
Too many of us expect technology to wake us up in the morning, make a brew, babysit our kids, and generally run our lives. The main goal seems to be the need to save time and free us up to do other 'stuff'. What other stuff? Surely technology is designed to make things better, not just simpler.
All too often, call centre technology has resulted in many lost hours: performance managing agents; disciplinaries; grievances; attrition; recruitment; the list goes on. And all because we expect technology to do the work for us.
Technology is a tool, an extremely useful tool. But without the correct implementation, it becomes a blunt instrument that is used to beat down on call center agents.
It’s good to talk
While a target for AHT is useful to know, advice on how to achieve that target is priceless.
The conversation is often the forgotten ingredient when it comes to performance improvement. There can be many reasons for this, but one that we come across time after time is that team leaders don't feel confident when talking to agents about targets, and what needs to happen next.
Many factors affect this; lack of experience, fear of being challenged, lack of training, disengagement, lack of time!
When you put targets together with appropriate support, the improvements are almost instantaneous, because not only are we aware of what needs to be achieved, but we also have a better understanding of how to do it.
How to keep engagement engaging is the easiest problem in the world to solve: talk to each other; communicate; reach a common understanding; support each other; give a damn!
How Gamification bridges the communication gap
Gamification is a marriage made in call centre heaven when it comes to supporting agents and helping them to improve. Equally importantly, it helps team leaders to motivate and engage their teams in order to maintain those improvements.
It's a fantastic example of how technology can actually complement human interaction.
Gamification encourages users to focus on what is really important at both a business and customer level. It rewards agents with points and badges for improving and maintaining performance and really helps with call centre agent motivation, pushing them to work hard to achieve their goals.
But points and badges are only part of the solution.
Enter the team leader. Now we're talking
Using the data, the results and the progress that are presented so clearly and immediately through Gamification, it can result in a great coaching conversation and a significant improvement in call centre efficiency.
You have to talk to people to understand how they have been achieving their goals or why they think they aren't. It is essential that words are used to supplement the technology, otherwise it will quickly grow stale, and agents will simply see it as another means to throw targets at them.
Team leaders have a responsibility to treat agents as individuals as well as helping them to do a great job. Gamification will help them with this, and provide them with a common link with their agents, when discussing the many ways that performance can be improved.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
Investing time and money in new technology is always a daunting prospect.
Gamification can be seen as a bit faddy; something that won't catch on because it doesn't actually solve any of the problems in the traditional way. After all, if there's a performance management process to follow, who am I to argue! It's safe and something that I can easily follow.
Gamification is not something to fear, it is something to be understood and embraced. (If you are in any doubt about the power of Gamification, Forbes explodes the myths in this excellent article).
At the end of the day, it’s all about improving the customer experience
If anyone is in doubt as to the importance of the need to improve the customer experience, in Gartner’s 2016 CEO Survey: The year of digital tenacity, the majority of CEOs voted the customer experience as one of the top three areas of focus.
Furthermore, the survey revealed the contact centre to be the core driver of the customer experience, in most B2C sectors and in an increasing number of B2B sectors.
So if you want your contact centre to survive in an increasingly demanding sector, take my advice and embrace Gamification.
Below are my key tips for making the very most of Gamification
- Use the points, levels and badges as an incentive to improve; to discuss with agents what they can do more of, in order to earn more and/or progress up the leaderboards
- Don’t get hung up on how many points should be awarded and how they are calculated, concentrate on what they were earned for and talking about how the agent get more!
- Share thoughts and ideas on what agents can do to improve, by providing examples and encouraging them to do the same
- Empower your agents to think for themselves and use Gamification as a means of recognising great performance
- Build confidence and talk about performance improvement as a journey which is different for everyone
- Invest time in building a community where agents want to high five each other and recognise each other’s performance
- Celebrate success often, no matter how small; drag it out of the technology and bring it to life with some good ol’ fashioned human interaction