Gamification is the “in” thing now. There’s no motivator like a bit of healthy competition to get things going. On one end of the customer service spectrum, gamification has worked well for companies like Jetstar and Photoshop, seeking to increase loyalty by providing customers with an added incentive to use their products. It is an extremely elegant system: customers get the thrill of a game, whilst companies get increased revenues and sustained customer loyalty. The good news is, gamification works both ways, and customer service is one of those things that fits perfectly into the game model. The concept is simple enough – reward your CSRs for a job well done, count the number of times this has happened, and you’re good to go.

 

Work and play

Gamification makes tedious tasks, such as handling customer support requests, , seem less of a chore. Your CSRs are less likely to dread the daily grind of calls, emails, and IMs if there’s a leaderboard to constantly check their score against. You may even find your company’s productivity spiking after implementing a gamification system – friendly, constructive competition may be all the motivation some people need to spur them on to maximize their potential.

New employees will also find gamification a pleasant way to accustom themselves to the workings of the company, as they learn the ropes through fun games. Simple tasks that require rote learning can be adapted into gamification systems, serveing as motivation for employees to perfect them. Gamification marries the previously immiscible work and play, with great results to boot.

 

A job done versus a job well-done

However, gamification is like candy – it is oh-so-sweet, but a tad too much can be very bad for your teeth. At its core level, gamification replaces intrinsic motivation with extrinsic ones. Now this may not seem like a big deal in the short term, but if left unchecked for longer periods, relying solely on extrinsic motivation can result in lower-quality output and a generally reduced sense of job satisfaction for your CSRs. In particular, some gamification systems are guilty of rewarding CSRs for merely being there, not for any meaningful work done. These systems are more like punch-card operations than anything else, incentivizing CSRs to settle customer calls in the shortest amount of time possible, or to spend as much time as they can on the company website. On the other hand, efforts to tackle a customer complaint in the most graceful way possible are hardly recognized; as are attempts to provide warm, personalised service.

 

Snakes galore

Relations within the workplace may also go down the drain if CSRs begin to see each other as competitors. Backstabbing may occur, especially if game results are tied to promotions, pay raises or other tangible incentives. In more extreme cases, such competition can also result in the Cobra Effect, where, in order to advance on the leaderboard, unscrupulous employees create extra problems to solve.

So, what’s the conclusion? Should you or should you not turn your customer service operations into a game? There can be no doubt that gamification is indeed a powerful tool to raise motivation and increase productivity, but it should not be implemented blindly. The role of CSRs as human engagers should be enhanced, rather than undermined by the implementation of a gamification system. The danger of a typical gamification system is that it reduces human interactions, necessary for customer service, to mere performance statistics. This shifts the focus from CSRs providing quality customer service to systematic, strategic interactions designed to hit the highest scores. Further, the means are as important as the ends – gamification not only needs to be implemented to work, it needs to be implemented well in order to give recognition to quality work where it is due.

 

Have you implemented any games within your workplace to increase productivity? Let us know in the comments!

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Jodie Sun

Slightly geeky, loves animals and all things green.