Contact Centers, Gamification, and How to Keep Millennials from Jumping Ship

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we’re asked over and over again as kids. And you know what answer probably doesn’t pop up real often? A contact center employee. Faced with a slew of scripted information meant to console the inconsolable (a.k.a. angry consumers), those who work at contact and call centers can have it pretty rough.

What’s more, there’s a sizeable disconnect between the corporations that control contact centers and the employees themselves – many of whom, at the moment, are Millennials.

What makes Millennials different? A lot of things. They’re more social, more technology-literate, more open and more ambitious. In the workplace, this translates into a new breed of employee.

A recently-released Rackspace report delves into the characteristics of this new generation, focusing on Millennials in Mexico and Latin America. The findings? Millennials enjoy flexibility at their jobs, with options like remote work. They’re critical and don’t hold back when it comes to voicing their opinions, and they expect feedback and reaffirmation in return. And, of course, they’re a social generation, meaning they’re responsive to such tools, and they’re not so keen on outdated technologies.

The conundrum at the contact center, then, becomes motivating and training this new generation. “Call center agents are between the ages of 18 and 30, so many of them are open to social elements, but businesses, unfortunately, don’t offer them social tools, or more playful ways to work,” explained Oscar Giraldo, the CEO of PlayVox, a talent platform designed specifically for contact centers.

“Imagine that a kid who’s 18, 19, 20 years old working at a contact center doesn’t have access to e-mail at work. It’s highly frustrating, and that’s what makes people leave companies so fast. They don’t have a way to communicate, they’re extremely limited,” he noted.

Giraldo and the PlayVox team have set out to help corporations connect with and motivate their Millennial contact center agents. Its platform employs elements of social media and gamification and is focused largely on training and education. It boasts a standalone solution, which encompasses a social platform through which managers can invite agents into the community. Once there, agents can compete against and encourage others in their training, earning points and rewards for interpersonal and behavior-related achievements.  We introduced readers to the company last year.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/47358520[/vimeo]

Big names like Groupon and Telefónica (for Movistar) have enlisted PlayVox to train and motivate employees, and thus far, the solution has worked – especially considering that contact centers, up to now, haven’t been very innovative when it comes to worker education. “Right now, most training takes place in a classroom. Some of the more ‘innovative’ use some sort of e-learning tool, like PowerPoint or PDF,” Giraldo remarked.

PlayVox, on the other hand, takes a more modern approach, combining video and gamification in order to up engagement. “Learning through video is the future of training in contact centers,” Giraldo affirmed. He elaborated:

Each hour of training in a contact center is money. If you take an extra hour to train someone, that’s a lot of money, especially considering that contact centers have thousands of agents. So, when you’re training in a classroom, something may take you an hour or two. If you condense that information into video, it will take 15 minutes.

Upon bringing in gamification, the results are multiplied. “Gamification generates a change in behavior,” explained Giraldo. Competition and the ability to compare performance inspire another level of engagement among employees in training. Case in point: Groupon, which PlayVox helped to reduce agent training time by 50%.

Though gamification is still in the early stages – especially in the corporate world – companies are generally receptive to its value. “Everyone that’s a potential client for us has experience playing, whether through Facebook, on their smartphone, or with their children. They already know that games motivate and engage,” Giraldo emphasized.

Given that, it’s fairly easy for PlayVox to explain to companies the merits of its gamification-based solutions in terms of efficiency and motivation. However, it is important to clarify that gamification in the workplace isn’t about entertainment:

At first, yes, some businesses think gamification is about playing. What we explain is that it entails using the same dynamics as games to encourage people and stimulate changes in behavior.

A visualization of gamification's ramifications in contact centers. Excerpted from Gamification: A New Approach to Tracking and Improving Agent Performance, from Ovum.
A visualization of gamification’s ramifications in contact centers. Excerpted from Gamification: A New Approach to Tracking and Improving Agent Performance, from Ovum.

While gamification and solutions like PlayVox can have great results in contact centers, especially when dealing with Millennials, the scenario isn’t fool-proof – especially if the end game isn’t clear. “If the process to be improved isn’t clear or isn’t measured, undertaking a gamification project isn’t worth it,” Giraldo affirmed. This is particularly true for call centers, where measurements, metrics and KPIs rule.

Millennials are a growing presence in the workforce, and contact centers are one class of many types of entities that are just going to have to adjust. The ability to think innovatively and stay attuned to the dynamics of this new generation of employees is essential.

Original source, featured image.