NICE Systems Gamification

Can enterprise call center employees be motivated by gamification techniques? Performance optimization provider NICE Systems and gamification vendor Bunchball think so, and have formed a partnership to help improve performance among customer-facing and back office employees by using virtual challenges, contests and quests.

Ken Jones, VP for Strategy and Business Development at Bunchball, noted in a statement that NICE’s workforce optimization (WFO) solutions “give organizations the ability to measure and manage employee performance.” He added that gamification “takes this one step further,” with game mechanics that address achievement, progress, recognition, competition and collaboration to “help cultivate more engaged employees who will onboard faster, perform better, and stay longer.”

Performance, Incentive Compensation

The first two NICE WFO solutions to be gamified will be its Performance Management and Incentive Compensation Management solutions. Companies with those products can create “gamified experiences” that offer individual and team-based competitions, knowledge quizzes, points and badges, all of which are designed to propel employees toward sales-based targets.

In their announcement, the partnering companies cite a 2012 Gartner study, Gamification 2020: What Is the Future of Gamification? That report predicted that, by 2015, “more than 50% of organizations that have managed innovation processes will gamify those processes.”

In a brochure announcing the availability of gamification in its customer-facing offerings, NICE reports that “highly disengaged” employees have nearly tripled to 21% over a three-year period, according to the Customer Contact Council. Disengaged employees are less inclined to engage with customers and are more likely to leave the company.

Does It Work?

By using activities that involve, say, friendly team competition, earned badges, challenging but not impossible goals and other techniques, gamification is intended to increase employee engagement while improving skills. An example, according to the companies, might be the reward of a badge if an employee reviews specific product documentation, scores 80% or higher on the product knowledge quiz, and earns customer satisfaction scores of 9 out of 10 (or higher) on five consecutive product calls. NICE/Bunchball says the gamification techniques lead to faster onboarding of new employees, increased engagement and employee retention.

NICE and Bunchball point to one unnamed call center that “dumped standard training in favor of gamification for their 20,000 employees,” resulting over three months in 72% of agents completing volunteer training, a 10% improvement in service levels and a 15% drop in handling time.

Gamification techniques can work in some situations, when it is well designed and used. But a report last month by Forrester, Gamification: ‘Level Up’ Your Strategic Approach, noted that gamification has had mixed results. The problem, the research firm said, is not “gamification itself that fails,” but it is the “poor application of gamification that does.” It recommends a hard-nosed approach that involves strategic objectives, determination of actions to support the objectives, and development of an “engagement loop” to connect user motivations to the actions, measurement and analysis.