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Humanizing the Digital Customer Experience: With Gamification, Call Centers Win Big

To the casual observer—or the not-so-casual business insider, for that matter—the words “humanize” and “digital” sound as though they play at opposite ends. But overwhelming evidence points to just the opposite. Customers covet the convenience of digital transactions and payments via mobile devices or an Internet connection. But they also want businesses to treat them like individuals who matter—and deliver a human touch on their terms and timing.

A Massively Needed New Approach

How crucial is this? Jim Marous, co-publisher of The Financial Brand, laid out the table stakes in his October report on bringing humanized experiences to digital banking. “As the world grows increasingly digital, providing the ‘humanized engagement’ becomes ever more important,” Marous wrote with the report’s release.

“Digital consumers demand more today than speed and simplicity. They want to feel good about their interactions with technology, and this requires some element of the personal touch.”

Taken together, customer service and support personnel represent a major nexus where brands and consumers meet—and where digital and human come together. No matter how seamless their online journeys, customers will at some point encounter questions and run into snags. It’s at that point they turn to call centers, where the outcome of either continued loyalty or permanent customer attrition often hangs in the balance.

Even the most dedicated call center employees will run into all-too-familiar obstacles, from disengagement with their work to discouragement after a day of handling unhappy callers.

To this end, the use of call center gamification represents a bona-fide breakthrough.

Never has such a revolutionary approach been so badly needed, as the statistics lay out some stark truths: 71 percent of all employees are not engaged while at work and the average call center has a 26 percent attrition rate.

How Gamification Works

So how does gamification work? Simply put, it uses contests, rewards, leader boards, badges and more to teach employees important content and best practices. It’s amusing and engaging—and if it sounds like too much fun for a serious business, consider the bottom-line effect it can have on customer interaction and experience.

In fact, gamification ranks as one of the most significant trends to bolster employee performance and satisfaction in decades—and if you’re not in tune to it, your competitors are. A December podcast on employee gamification by BAI (the Bank Administration Institute) scored the highest ratings in the podcast’s two-year history in just one week.

As for the call center, the benefits become readily apparent on many levels. For starters, employees who make a game out of their learning now boast an enjoyable alternative to reading another front-office memo. And if you can chart your forward motion, that’s even better: You get to see in tangible terms how much you progress and literally “move ahead”: whether in your own personal learning curve or in friendly competition with fellow staffers.

Whether your call center employees are motivated by incentives or recognition, competition or collaboration, gamification has proven an effective driver of results because its appeal spans personality types and generations. The title of a Business.com article says it all: “5 Statistics That Prove Gamification is the Future of the Workplace.” It cites figures compiled by Gartner that showed 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations used gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations as of the end of 2015.

What’s more, the positive reinforcement of a high score, badge or “unlocked achievement” has a way of feeding itself; ask any avid video game player or fantasy sports league fan. Contests where everyone can win and get better make for happy contestants—in this case your staff.

Call center representative talking on headset and working on computer | Noble Systems Image

And happy staff members dive into solving customer issues with more energy, spark and commitment. To borrow from video game-speak, everyone gets to the next level. It’s an answer to the one question that drives only the most forward-thinking and high performing call center teams: “How can we get our employees to take a personal stake in solving customer problems?”

While gamification sets the stage for adding serious play to serious work, employees must also be equipped with tools to help them exceed customer expectations—a tall order in an era where customers feel empowered to demand more of businesses than ever before.

A Smart Mix of Omnichannel Functionality

Nice headsets and comfy chairs can’t hurt—but your call center staffers need the power of digital technology to help you gain and keep a competitive edge. Here, we’re talking about a smart mix of omnichannel functionality, agent-friendly user interfaces and real-time analysis of a call center interaction.

In the financial services industry, for example, it’s invaluable to ask whether the caller isn’t just getting a helpful representative, but one who can provide the right help better than anyone else. Intelligent contact routing, for example, connects customers and prospects to the best agent for their meet needs.

Also invaluable: real-time, comprehensive account information and CTI screen pops that help agents solve problems and answer questions rather than waste a caller’s time looking up basic information.

The right information, delivered at the right time to agents is key in reducing agent frustration, resulting in a better customer experience.

Agents have a golden opportunity to address the caller warmly and right away by name, and with personal information on hand to show they’re not an account number whose issue is “taken in the order in which it was received.”

How much better to offer respect and stellar service—given in the order in which it’s deserved.