Gamification in EDU Contact Centers: Why Agent Leaderboards Work

By Frank HealyJune 12, 2018

Games have been an integral part of life throughout history as a way to pass the time in an entertaining, engaging and rewarding way. So, what if we took those same game elements and placed a similar structure around tasks to drive desired behavior? Could work become “fun”? Engaging? Drive results?

That’s the idea behind “gamification” in the EDU contact center. And this is why it works.

Driving Behavior to Drive Better Outcomes
In order to drive better outcomes, one must look first at what drives behavior. Contrary to popular belief, humans are not solely motivated by financial means. In fact, gamification experts point to three main drivers of behavior as the most reliable predictors of engagement.

Mastery: The act of mastering a new skill or becoming an expert in a given field. In the EDU contact center, this may include earning an award or new certification, leading a project on a given topic or reaching a higher rank within the company.

Autonomy: Motivation can come from working within a structure that offers “meaningful” choice, ample opportunity to reach goals on one’s own volition and participation in activities that are somehow tangible in a real-life context. In the workplace, it’s important to clearly communication the game “rules,” or the many steps one can take to reach the top of the leaderboard, for example. These actions should then have a direct result on the ability to earn an extrinsic reward, like a raise or a contest.

Relatedness: There’s an intrinsic need to “matter” to others and have purpose. In work environments, employees are driven to be a part of a team, strive to earn respect from colleagues and be highlighted by leadership for their efforts. For EDU contact center agents, in particular, a sense of purpose may also come from making an impact in the lives of students.

Further supporting intrinsic motivation, the sheer act of participating in “gameplay” in and of itself is enough to activate the brain’s reward center, according to neurological studies.

Developing a Gamification Structure within the Contact Center
Taking into account the three intrinsic motivators, it’s important to create a well-designed structure to properly engage employees. At its core, a game has challenges, feedback and levels. In the contact center, challenges may look like internal contests. Feedback may take the form of agent scoring and one-on-one meetings with leadership. Levels may be determined by rank on agent leaderboards and providing agents with expanded capabilities, accordingly.

Agent Leaderboards Drive Outcomes in the EDU Contact Center
From a leaderboard on the wall to quick-hit sales SPIFFS to drive momentum, there are many familiar game mechanics at play in sales and marketing environments. Gamification in the EDU contact center is especially effective when placed around repetitive tasks and important KPIs, such as:

  • Conversions and/or transfers
  • Customer-reported satisfaction
  • Number of calls per hour
  • Average call handling time (AHT)

Agent leaderboards are one of the most effective and time-tested models. One study showed leaderboards successfully motivated employees “when performing tedious and cumbersome tasks at work.” In addition to feedback that activities became more enjoyable, leaderboard results pointed to enhanced productivity. Another business case study showed similar results with increased performance. Leaderboard standings centered on KPIs, such as the number of deals signed and contracts closed. Based on early leaderboard results, the company projected an overall 2%-3% increase in profits, adding another $1.5 million to their bottom line.

Leaderboards become even more effective when integrated as part of an agent dashboard or online platform. Providing instant feedback and a visual representation of individual progress, agents are able to see results in near real-time and are empowered to change behavior quickly to better compete with peers and climb to the top of the leaderboard. Gamified agent platforms amplify those key motivators: mastery, autonomy and relatedness.

Benefits of Gamification in EDU Contact Centers
The benefits are vast. EDU contact center gamification elements, like leaderboards, are an opportunity to give agents a greater sense of accomplishment and provide positive reinforcement on a daily or more regular basis than that of more traditional work structure. In a broader sense, they can also act as a marker to identify low-performing agents. In addition to performance and profits, gamification in EDU contact centers also brings cultural benefits, like increased agent satisfaction and retention. It’s an easy way to make enrollment experiences more meaningful and effective for EDU agents and prospective students.

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