Want to Improve Contact Center Training? Try a Gamification Approach

Well-designed games permit users to develop directed, empathic responses to carefully crafted situations and permutations. These types of simulations are particularly useful when training customer service representatives (CSRs) in a contact center environment, where customer emotions can run high.

While building a great customer experience is serious business, training for it can be fun. For people on the front lines of providing service to citizens, a gamification approach can help increase engagement and retention of training materials.

Using games to help people master content has come a long, long way from the earliest iterations that most of us probably can remember: playing Jeopardy! in the classroom using a game board that our teachers either wrote in chalk on the blackboard or created out of poster board.

The gamification techniques used in today’s e-learning training environments are often highly sophisticated. In addition to tapping into users’ competitive nature and desire to master content, well-designed games also function as simulations, permitting users to develop directed, empathic responses to carefully crafted situations and permutations.

These types of simulations are particularly useful when training customer service representatives (CSRs) in a contact center environment, where customer emotions can run high and responding to customers quickly and with correct information is incredibly important. So, what types of games are contact centers using, and why are they working so well?

Simple Games for Content Mastery

When given the opportunity to take a multiple-choice test or play a round of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? most people would choose the latter option. Yet when you look behind the lights and briefcases, Millionaire is really just a series of multiple-choice questions that rewards players for correct answers. The fact that it’s a game makes people want to play, and play until they succeed.

That innate human drive to win, when coupled with content delivery, is incredibly powerful in a training setting. Rather than simply clicking through screens, reading content, and then responding to questions about what they’ve read, CSRs are vested in learning the material because their responses are tied to a larger outcome—their score in a game.

Simulation Games for Empathy and Real-World Training

On the other end of the spectrum, some of the most complex games in contact center training simulate real-world customer calls for trainees. Rather than relying on simple fact recall, these simulations require users to integrate the skills and methods they are learning to be successful.

Desktop simulation games use timers and meters, as well as other elements, to measure a user’s skill in first call resolution (FCR), for example. Games simulate calls from customers and score users based on decisions they make during calls. Elapsed time is a factor, and certain answers may make a customer’s “anger” or “happy” meter go up or down. While users may give an answer that makes a customer happy at the time, and win points for pleasing that customer, if their answer is factually incorrect, the user’s overall score will drop because the information given was inaccurate.

These types of simulations are advanced and worthwhile. They allow users to practice on the tools they will use in the workplace before they have to use them in real time. These games also train CSRs in empathy, or give them insight into how their decisions affect customers. Empathy training is an important part of any contact center training program but is often a notoriously challenging “skill” to teach.

Why Gamification Works

While it is clear from these examples that gamification can make training more fun and enjoyable for CSRs, it also has been proven to help with recall and overall effectiveness of the training. Beyond recalling facts in isolation (“Oh, yeah, this was the $250,000 question in my final round of Millionaire”), the emotional connections created during games—and more specifically, during game simulations—make it easier for CSRs to recall what to do when faced with similar situations when they are on the floor.

Drawing on the advanced recall gained from games, training should incorporate personas to humanize the customer and improve training recall. Consider Stephan, the father of a family of four (or Melanie, a single parent; or James or Emma, a young adult on his or her own for the first time). Working through the simulation to help Stephan and his family, rather than a faceless character, creates a connection, especially if Stephan presents a challenging situation or is particularly irate. CSRs who have worked through that simulation will recall “Stephan” and his issues and how they were able to successfully handle the challenging emotions and situation he presented when similar customers present themselves in the contact center.

Games Tap into Our Competitive Nature

People are competitive by nature, which is a big reason games are so popular. They’re on our computers, phones, and online—and many of us enjoy playing a round or two whenever we have downtime. We want to get further down that path in Bejeweled or Candy Crush, or we want to master an individual level in Angry Birds before we move onto the next level.

Furthermore, our familiarity with game structure translates well for e-learning. For example, the beginning levels of most modern online games are really just a tutorial in how to play the game. The training itself is a game. This is how effective e-learning training is set up, getting CSRs engaged with the content as part of a game rather than reading or listening to a flat presentation. In fact, we’ve had CSRs come back to us and ask to re-take training so they could get a higher score.

That familiarity with and motivation to win games keeps CSRs engaged as they work through training modules, no matter what content they are learning: information, skill mastery, empathy training, or something else the contact center needs to teach its CSRs.

With virtual reality games just around the corner, the types of games and simulations CSRs will be exposed to may change, but the motivation will be the same: to win that final Jeopardy! or Millionaire question or make it to the top of the leaderboard. Contact centers just need to head to “Start” and hit “Play.”

Doug Taylor is Program director, and Derrick Spires is Training director at High Point Global, which helps government agencies elevate the citizen experience. With training, content development, contact center optimization, IT, and quality assurance services, the company helps the government more effectively communicate with citizens. For more information, visit: http://www.highpointglobal.com/

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