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Turning Customer Support Into a Game

By Jodi Beuder | Small Business

Turning Customer Support Into a Game image gamificationintrainingGamification in Training and Customer ServiceWhat if you could harness the same enthusiasm in your customer service employees as when they are playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush? That’s the idea behind gamification, applying game mechanics to business tasks to make them more engaging. This approach is rapidly gaining popularity in employee training and motivation.

Gamification actually is nothing new; sales companies have been using contests to motivate employees for years. But with the growth of technology and social networking, it has taken off. Online quests are replacing sales contests, with virtual accomplishments as coveted as “real world” incentives. In fact, gamification is growing so rapidly that “more than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one such application by year end 2014.” (Gartner).

Gamification works because it’s engaging. It makes the tedious fun by playing into the natural human desire to compete. It boosts employee engagement and drives performance and results. That’s why so many companies use gamification in customer service training and support.

Some recent examples:

  • Call Center Response Improvement: Delta Air Lines partnered with NogginLabs Inc. to develop ‘Ready, Set, Jet!,’ a game to train its call center employees – who help customers and ‘up-sell’ additional products and services. The game focused on the routes Delta flies, to improve employees’ knowledge of its geographies and offerings. Players earned “money” through the games and could spend it on virtual souvenirs. They also could challenge other players to mini-games. “In the first two months since the initial launch, Delta call center professionals have voluntarily logged more than 16.2 million minutes of game time, the equivalent of more than 30 years [of training],” according to the publication Chief Learning Officer.
  • Product Knowledge Training: The global marketing company ExactTarget, which helps Coca-Cola, Gap and Nike market new products, developed a game — The Knowledge Guru — to train sales staff. It brings players to a mountain with three paths. By learning topics, players can move up the mountain, ultimately delivering the scroll of wisdom to a guru. There are prizes for high scores and an overall winner. The game helped sales teams rapidly increase mastery of new product information while reducing call response times.
  • Leadership Training: NTT Data’s Ignite Leadership Game immerses employees in management situations while building skills in negotiation, communication, time management, change management and problem solving. It enables players to collaborate and provides instant feedback. Management believes it can identify future leaders simply by following the game’s results. Forbes reported that “50 employees ended up taking on team leadership roles, which was 50 percent higher than had done so through traditional training and coaching methods.” In addition, players have generated 220 new ideas, which led to a 40 percent increase in employee satisfaction.

An Important Caveat

Not all games are created equal, and as many companies have failed as have succeeded with gamification. To be effective for your company, your gamification program must be carefully planned and tied to business goals.

Looking for More Information?

Here are a few examples of short videos that provide a deeper glimpse into the topic. GamEffective offers a good basic explanation for enterprise gamification.

We welcome your input. If you have a successful gamification program, please share it. If you find a helpful video, please post the link in the comments section below.

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