“How to Motivate Collectors” was always one of the most popular sessions at user conferences I planned for my former employer. Every collection department or agency uses some type of motivational activities to keep employees focused and at peak productivity, so attendees were always eager to share their strategies. They included bonuses for goals reached by an individual or a team, an electronic “peer pressure” board showing scores for individual callers, time off for good performance, lunch brought in to the most productive team, a night out for the employee and spouse, and a variety of games. Now there’s technology with a new name—Gamification—to motivate collectors to reach goals with less managerial effort and easier tracking of results.
What Is Gamification?
Gamification software automates the same type of motivational strategies that have been around since call centers emerged in the early 70s, making it easier to display activities and track results.
In “Gamification Comes to the Contact Center,” author Leonard Klieb advises, “Because disengaged contact center workers have such a negative effect on morale, [client] satisfaction, and overall financial health, it is imperative that management regularly takes the pulse of employees and then finds ways to ensure that workers are properly engaged. One way they can do this is with gamification–borrowing from video games the principles of virtual challenges, contests, and quests for the purpose of racking up points, advancing to higher levels, or earning rewards. Companies can use gamification to reward incremental improvements in productivity, such as answering a set number of calls in an hour, reducing average call handling time by a certain percentage, or resolving customer issues without having to escalate calls.”
Should You Gamify?
Bob Cowen, CRM Magazine’s “Top Commenter,” states in an InsideARM.com article, “Gamification has been very successfully used within incentive programs for years. It’s the perfect way to incent call center workers, including debt collectors.” He has observed 4 common components of a successfully gamified incentive programs:
- Teach new behaviors through daily, continuous, positive reinforcement.
- Have fun and incorporate “random intermittent reinforcement.” (He was recently told by a collector, “recognition….is great, but I really love the excitement of the various games.”
- Reward immediately; don’t delay until the next paycheck.
- Choice of rewards is crucial. Within limits, allow the recipient to determine what the reward is.
What Do Analysts Think?
That collecting debt, along with other behaviors, can be made more competitive and engaging through gamification is validated by analysts. Gartner, in a recent report, called gamification “a powerful tool to engage employees, customers, and the public to change behaviors, develop skills, and drive innovation.” The firm also predicted that by 2015, more than 40 percent of the top companies would be using gamification to transform their business operations.
Before You Buy
Oscar Giraldo, Playvox cofounder, suggests that there are seven important things to know before you gamify your call center:
- Have a purpose and clear objective for why to gamify
- Understand your people and what motivates them
- Track the right 3-4 metrics
- Have processes to gamify already in place
- Have call center software that allows easy connection with 3rd party apps
- Invest in company values and culture for happier and more engaged employees
- Focus on the long term
Giraldo further explains #7 by adding, “Cultivating a high performance culture is something you have to build day to day. [A] Call Center is not a technology business, it’s a people intensive business that requires a lot of leadership, psychology and management skills to be successful. Data helps you know how your team is performing, and processes help you guide your people to act in different scenarios.”
The Relatively Low Cost
According to the “2013 Employee Recognition Study” by Make Their Day, an employee motivation consulting firm, “For most, a kind word and public recognition go a lot farther than a hefty bonus.” In the study, 70 percent of participants reported being motivated more by recognition and virtual rewards than by financial incentives, such as pay raises, bonuses, or company stock options. Formal recognition by peers and supervisors was found to be the top draw. Other common rewards include online badges and titles or access to privileges like special parking spots or free lunches. Only 14 percent identified gifts or financial compensation valued at more than $1,000 as their preferred rewards.
That’s why most gamification solutions offer a leaderboard feature to display top performers in specific categories, such as speed in resolving an issue, as well as the agent with the most overall points as the most valuable player. Web portals with real-time dashboards cost nothing to install and operate and can be just as effective.
Most technology solutions are now available in the cloud, making gamification apps very affordable. Startup can be take place quickly, and you can see ROI a short time. Products from Bunchball, Badgeville, FreshDesk, and other vendors are software-as-a-service (SAS) platforms that are easily customized to meet the needs of each company. Results also can be tracked on mobile devices.
Check It Out
If gamification can help collectors stay happier and more focused, then productivity and positive results will be the outcome. If you haven’t already “gamified” your collection floor, consider looking into it.