Leveraging competition among contact center agents

Posted: 07/07/2015 - 11:04 | Inova Solutions
Leveraging competition among contact center agents

Every company needs to make the customer experience a priority. An effective, productive contact center will improve customer satisfaction, increase brand loyalty and even generate new revenue. A suboptimal contact center, on the other hand, may lead to client frustration and disappointment, which will likely cause the company's customer satisfaction, retention and win rates to drop. 

One powerful tool for improving performance among contact center agents is competition. Gamification is becoming increasingly popular around the globe, with approximately 70 percent of the world's 2,000 biggest companies using some form of structured gamification in 2014, according to Gartner. Another effective means of creating a competitive environment is to display performance measures on real-time wallboards, dashboards or scorecards. Whether based on customer satisfaction or productivity goals these approaches can improve contact centers in terms of agent onboarding, engagement and retention, delivering a powerful overall impact.  

Given the right strategy and tools, competition can propel representatives to achieve their greatest possible potential. However, it is also true that competition can cause resentment and dissatisfaction among agents if not handled effectively.

With that in mind, here are three tips for leveraging competition among contact center agents.

1. Maximize transparency
A key hallmark of any successful competition is fairness. Everyone needs to feel like he or she had an equal chance at winning, without potential biases entering into the picture. This is one of the biggest problems with typical employee-of-the-month programs: They frequently rely on vague, subjective factors and the manager's ultimate discretion. While obviously the winners will feel validated and satisfied by such a program, anyone who misses out on an award may suspect that the competition was more a question of who the boss liked more than who legitimately put forth the greatest effort in the past week, month or quarter.

"The competition's results should be based on objectively measurable results."

That's why contact center competitions need to make transparency a high-level focus. The criteria used to determine the winners of any given content should be clear for all to see, and based on objectively measurable results as much as possible. 

To this end, displaying revenue or case data from a CRM like Salesforce on your wallboards and dashboards can be invaluable. These tools allow agents to view their own and team performance-related statistics at any given time versus their peers.  And, in the case of wallboards or digital signs, they can effectively serve as leader boards, updating progress towards goals in real-time. This level of transparency ensures that there is minimal bad blood at the end of the competition, as every agent will be able to clearly see why a particular worker was crowned the champion. 

2. Teams and individuals
Another excellent way to maximize competition's benefits and mitigate the downsides is by creating contests for both teams and individuals. 

Team-based competitions are excellent because they are more social, encouraging greater collaboration and communication. This has the added benefit of improving agents' job satisfaction and retention rates. Just as significantly, team-based competitions spread around the rewards, ensuring a greater number of personnel reap the benefits of the contest.

Group competitions can encourage teamwork and bonding.Group competitions can encourage teamwork and bonding.

However, relying solely on team-based competitions may cause strife between the more laid-back agents and highly-driven, competitive individuals. By offering competitions for individual agents at the same time, the latter group of employees will have a chance to earn accolades even if their teams come up short, eliminating a possible source of tension between colleagues. 

3. A variety of metrics
One final best practice for successfully leveraging competition in the contact center is to incorporate a wide variety of metrics when developing these programs. It may be tempting to settle on a single, overarching outcome - such as customer satisfaction ratings - and determine the winner of each contest on this basis. But such a strategy runs the risk of prioritizing certain positive contact center agent skills over others. While customer satisfaction ratings are obviously important and should be encouraged, the same is also true of agents who deliver the greatest value in upsells or achieve the best first call resolution rates. 

There are two approaches available to take this diversity into account. One option would be to develop a formula which factors in the range of metrics, all of which can be accessed and understood via wallboards and dashboards. Second, contact center managers can instead establish a variety of smaller competitions for agents, each one rewarding a different achievement. The ideal option will vary from contact center to contact center, but incorporating diverse metrics should always be a priority. 

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