The rapid growth of Gamification and the computer game culture are helping to create more efficient and profitable contact centres.
This is according to strategic back office workforce optimisation consultant Graeme Gabriel from Verint, who conducted seminars in Johannesburg and Cape Town recently on the topic of how to boost profitability and performance in contact centres.
The seminars were offered by New York-based analytics company Verint Systems, and Inovo, a leading provider of technological solutions to customer care centres. They were invited by Contact Centre Management Group, the South African professional association for contact centre managers and supervisors.
Service quality drives customer loyalty
Verint recently published the results of a large-scale study of more than 18 000 consumers in nine countries, which found that customer service was the deciding factor in South Africans’ customer loyalty. It showed almost half of consumers would remain loyal even if it was not the cheapest option, depending on service quality.
Based on these findings, Gabriel was in South Africa to help companies improve their service levels at the point of engagement with consumers. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he said that a business needs Workforce Management like a person needs food and shelter.
“Unless we can put the right number of engaged people into the right positions, we will never get to the next level, which is quality. And it is quality service that will make the customers want to stay.”
Sadly, research has found that up to 75% of employees in the US are not engaged at work, costing that economy up to $550-billion annually.
Gamify to drive engagement
The gaming culture is entrenched, with 21-year old Americans estimated to have spent more time playing games than they did sitting in high school.
“Computer games tap into the human psyche and gets at the things that really motivate us. We can use the principles behind the games to communicate objectives and drive performance in our call centres.
“When organisations choose an employee of the month or reward the highest sales achiever, they are already using gaming principles. Using the processes around game mechanics and experience design, and incorporating the right technology, we can now digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their own, as well as the organisation’s goals.”
What we can learn from computer games
Gabriel proposes that employees be made the heroes in their game (jobs), where they feel they are building toward a cause or accomplishing something great.
Computer games display performance objectives on the screen as a constant reminder what the gamer is working towards. In the same way, employees need to be reminded how their work is contributing to the bigger picture.
However, game objectives are also broken down into micro learning goals. The focus is on mastering small skills one at a time, in order to climb through levels.
The gamer is encouraged to set not only individual objectives, but also to engage and build awareness of common goals with a team. Feedback and rewards happen in real-time as the game progresses, and the gamer is assisted to balance conflicting Key Performance Indicators.
Novel game elements are displayed on the screen – often in the form of icons to display strength, success or satisfaction – in order to encourage self-reflection. These elements, argued Gabriel, keep gamers transfixed in front of the screen and engaged with game objectives.
“Games make us feel smart because we chase objectives and learn things. We feel successful when we win; we build up an online reputation that makes us feel socially valued. The games are structured to give the player purpose and direction, leading to rewards.
“Imagine what we can accomplish when our employees show this kind of drive in the work place?”
Start with a strategy
Successful customer care centres need a good combination of people, processes and systems.
However, Gabriel said, many businesses find it hard to unpick the complex array of options and decide where the priority lies. To make things even harder, the rules of customer engagement are changing and many of the old approaches do not work anymore.
Loyalty schemes, for example, do the opposite of what they are called. Rewards and bonuses will not keep customers coming back. Only an average 8% of consumers say a company that provides free things would make them more loyal.
“We need engaged employees with robust and flexible processes that support our interaction with customers, overlaid with an appropriate technology set. But all this needs to be founded on a solid customer strategy. That is the starting point.
“Our customer service strategies need to grow as the rules of the game evolve.”
Elements of a good customer strategy
Firstly, the needs of the customer have to be met. Organisations should be armed with the right information, skills, tools and processes to provide the speedy service that customers demand.
“Also, ensure that your employees can make the best use of the available resources and information. Provide the necessary training if they can’t. Enable your employees to give customers the personal touches they love. They will tell their friends when service providers go the extra mile where appropriate and relevant.
“Provide the right information to get the service right – first time, every time. Consumers will reward companies that can create memorable experiences,” Gabriel adds.
Organisations should be easy to engage with whenever and however customers want.
Finally, trust should be earned.
“Especially when it comes to the security and use of customer data. Be transparent, open and honest.”