How Gamification Can Motivate Customer Service Representatives

By Gerald Major

Call center representatives may never get the chance to interact with customers in person, but they are an integral part of any successful business operation. A call center representative is a crucial team member because he or she often meets customers at a turning point in their relationship with a brand: at a time when callers are displeased and looking for answers.

A recent Better Business Bureau survey found that 40 percent of consumers became repeat purchasers after a company successfully resolved their post-purchase issues. The study also found that 72 percent of customers reported that quality service would drive their repeat purchasing, and loyal consumers spend upwards of 67 percent more than new customers. A great customer service experience can turn a dejected customer into a repeat purchaser with the right tactics and approach.

An engaging customer experience is especially important to businesses that have a strictly online presence, as they look to draw buyers without the benefit of a traditional brick-and-mortar store and human-to-human sales experience. According to Internet Retailer, while e-commerce sales grew 14.6 percent in 2015, many consumers believe you cannot replace the in-person customer experience, particularly for larger purchases. It is the call center representative’s job to reverse this sentiment and prove that meaningful retail experiences can happen over the phone.

This is particularly important for an e-commerce company, where the only human-to-human interaction is between a customer service representative and a customer. Whereas a patron can go into a brick-and-mortar store and chat with an associate about products or needs, the interaction a client has with an e-commerce customer service agent in most circumstances is the first, last, and only exchange they have with an e-retailer. It is a critical opportunity to differentiate from the competition and show that e-commerce stores can maintain a positive customer relationship.

In order to deliver value to shoppers, you must incentivize your call center representatives to deliver the best customer experience possible. Many agents do not realize they are truly at the front lines of brand loyalty, so they must be encouraged to perform at the highest level at all times. One way to do this is through the process of gamification. Gamification is defined as “the incorporation of game elements, such as points and reward systems, to tasks as incentives for people to participate.”

Gamification is used to turn potentially challenging and taxing tasks into fun, energetic competitions. Most people naturally have the desire to compete and win, so gamification is a way to tap this existing drive to assure that team members have the support they need to deliver great customer experiences.

An example of gamification can be something as simple as leaderboards throughout the call center that display key performance metrics, such as a rating of the representative’s responsiveness, helpfulness, and overall performance. In a healthy competitive environment, seeing other representatives at their peak performance receiving five-star reviews and positive comments will push others in the call center to strive for the same results.

In addition to fostering healthy competition, gamification can also create a more meaningful customer interaction. When customers are able to share their comments after the call for all in the center to see, these individual interactions become more memorable and personal. Team morale increases as representatives discuss and compare their interactions and learn from the constant feedback.

Gamification can also assist call center managers from an internal perspective. Keeping better track of customer feedback and factors such as call rates, talk time, returns, and cancellation rates can help identify the performance of individual team members more accurately. If certain representatives are consistently receiving glowing reviews, a manager can look at their specific tactics and use them to train the rest of the team. If some representatives continuously struggle, using specific metrics can help identify measurable ways to help change their approach to ensure success in the future.

Gamification as a concept has existed for a long time, but only recently have companies begun to study and quantify the results of implementing this tactic in their businesses. According to a study by Hamari, Koivisto, and Sarsa, published in ResearchGate, that analyzed twenty-four studies on gamification, a majority of the studies found that gamification does indeed produce positive effects and benefits.

Of course, for gamification to be effective, it has to be personalized to your work environment; some gamification tactics may not appeal to every company or employee. If you customize your gamification method to fit the needs of your call center representatives and foster their growth, it is likely that your employees will be more motivated to succeed. In a world where an unhappy customer’s voice can be amplified on social media with a click of a button, call centers can’t afford not to invest in proactive tactics to create a superior customer experience.

Gerald Major is the director of customer experience at CARiD, an online seller of all things automotive and more.

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