I was at Contact Center Association’s fall conference last week and saw a presentation on gamification in the call center. This is basically gaming for the call center agents, not the customers visiting company web sites. As I sat and listened to the talk about tokens or tickets being handed out for every minor bit of good behavior (like showing up for work on time), I couldn’t help being a bit concerned that contact centers might turn to gaming and entertainment to mask engagement or morale issues.
In my book “Contact Center Excellence” I cite work from Gartner on engagement; in the average organization there are fewer than 2 actively engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee. That means if you have a 1,000 seat contact center and you believe you have 400 actively engaged staff, you will also have over 200 actively disengaged staff. The actively disengaged are doing their best to disrupt established processes and programs, and are the ones with the highest unplanned shrinkage, lowest quality scores, and lowest overall operational scores. They typically do not like award programs, and will do what they can to subvert the programs. Thus, gamification is not going to win over the actively disengaged and is therefore not going to correct an engagement problem within the center.
There are many approaches to improving engagement, and Gartner lists eleven such approaches, and I tailor that list in the engagement chapter in my book. Entertaining awards like gaming may help improve engagement, but the contact center would be wise to understand the current level of engagement across their center, and put a comprehensive plan in place to improve engagement. One component is certainly awards and rewards, but putting a fancy and fun set of games in place by itself is not going to boost morale or engagement.
Following one of my posts in which I am unable to cite a quote, one of my readers assisted by referencing H.L. Menken. I bring up the quote again, because this is another case where it applies – the topic of engagement; “for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong.”
So, who is up for arguing with me?