Contact Center Attrition - Retention Through Gamification (Part 2 of 3)
In the previous article we bring the uncomfortable truth that is employee attrition forward. We've acknowledged it's a problem - to what degree varies with the organization and how it currently operates. Hopefully some legwork has been done to start developing an idea of where the sentiment toward the organization, its culture, employees in supervisory roles, and even toward peers sits. Depending on what you've found or think may be the case, you know you've got some work ahead of you.
With this article, we'll discuss the concept of gamification as a method of implementing a system to an existing one to abstract away classical metrics while appealing to the motivators that are competition, recognition, and possibly reward.
Gamification as a concept is hardly new and yet it seems to have become one of those popular contemporary buzzwords, but what is it really and how does it help with attrition? At its core gamification represents game-like elements integrated into systems that may or may not be for entertainment purposes. In other words, it's a method to make work appear and feel less like work through the abstraction of a game. The simplest example is to tie a counter to a user account. Let's say, for example, if Netflix implemented a counter of how many different TV series and movies you've watched on your profile with titles and can compare how much content you've viewed to other profiles on the same account or even across other accounts. Perhaps the count for watched TV Series and movies are kept separate and every 20 titles watched puts a title appellation next to your user profile name like "Movie Buff" or "TV Connoisseur" with different profile appellations for each additional 20 title increment. The benefit to Netflix for doing this is to motivate subscribers to watch more content on streaming and may also see an improvement in the number of customers who decide to rent content on DVD or Blu-Ray not available for streaming. Another possible benefit might be a "screener" privilege for users to have early access to new content added to the service, which also serves the purpose of letting the "screener" users drum up interest among their social circles.
In this example, the idea of attaching an "achievement" for consuming Netflix content on an account is a game-like mechanic. Netflix itself is not a game, but by giving subscribers a way to compare against others, possibly in a self-perceived competition, the service has become gamified subtly. While this example was very simple - in reality this could be an added content field on a Netflix profile that is tied to a very simple database query - gamification can take on a wide variety of implementations up to the point of turning aspects of a non-entertainment, non-gaming service or system into a game unto itself.
Yet another example that introduces an actual reward might be if you're a parent you may have turned something the children dislike doing like brushing their teeth or eating vegetables into a game of sorts rewarding them for doing so. This emphasizes the reward and not their displeasure at eating those greens that might otherwise end up on the floor or given to the dog. The interesting thing with this example is we return to the basic idea of cost benefit analysis where doing something unpleasant is ultimately outweighed by the benefit doing so provides, and so we've appealed to the motivation for a reward or benefit to achieve a desired outcome. However, whether or not this example is a good parenting practice I'll leave for the reader to decide, though we may generally agree dogs shouldn't eat too much broccoli.
The Pros and Cons of Gamification
Naturally, when you modify a system or method of doing things to be a game or more game-like you are doing two things:
- Masking motivation to work for employees as motivation to play or compete appealing to several different psychological motivators individuals possess: competitiveness, recognition, entertainment/engagement, and benefit.
- Adding a sublayer of varying complexity to the system itself through the mechanics and implementation of the "game". How elaborate the "game sublayer" is generally creates the relationship that the more abstracted work elements become, the more complex the implementation becomes. Refer back to the above section for a very simple example of how to turn a metric into a game with minimal change.
In doing this, you are really hinging on following:
- The "game" or game-like implementation is engaging enough to be effective at motivating employees as a majority to better perform their duties.
- The "game" or game-like implementation does not experience an exponentially growing curve of progress and engagement. That is, visible progress and achievement is easily obtained at the beginning of the "game," but visible progress as time goes on becomes very sparse. In layman's terms to ensure the distance between the horse's mouth and the next carrot are always far enough apart to ensure the horse is willing to pull the cart far enough to get the carrot rather than losing interest in it.
- Employees are truly motivated by imaginary achievements and milestones as a motivating goal where actual goals may or do not exist.
As all people have different motivational factors and different degrees for each, we do not recommend a single method approach be realistically expected to work as a cure-all panacea to attrition. It may significantly help, but doesn't account for individuals who are motivated differently. If at all possible, seek ways to integrate aspects of these recommendations into each other to create a motivational system end to end.
At this point, I will be exploring different gamification methods and at a high level what they involve and accomplish. Though please note further research into the actual time effort cost for your individual situation may vary.