Customer service jobs are notoriously hard to keep filled. Expectations for the quality of interaction with the modern consumer are high, as are stressors on the modern retail associate. Add to that common challenges of minimal training and experience and you find that the typical new employee feels both overwhelmed and underqualified. Corporate training best practices offer some insight around how to increase performance and engagement among your retail associations through careful design strategy and impactful gamification. Better engagement leads to better customer service, so both your employees and your customers are happier.
Call Center Retention
Call center retention may be the best, or worst, example of customer service employee retention. Call center retention rates are abysmal, with research suggesting between a 30% to 45% loss. For comparison, the same study cites an average of about a 15% loss across all U.S. industries.
There appears to be a correlation between call center size and retention as well. Larger call centers lose more employees. The smallest centers lose around 17%, while large centers sit at 44%. Moreover, entry-level employees are the biggest loss, making a large gap in the knowledge and skills of employees.
Engagement Leads to Increased Retention
There is a way to increase employee retention that is within your grasp. If an employee is engaged in their workplace, they are more likely to stay with the job. Gallup reports show how lower engagement leads to increased job-hopping. People who don’t feel connected to their role, team, manager, and organization are already more likely to leave than their peers, and throwing minor perks, like food, at them is regarded as, “a Band-Aid fix for a much bigger problem.”
You can, however, fix that bigger problem by using training tactics like gamification to increase employee engagement. But it isn’t just about what you do in training, but how you do it. Gamification generally offers benefits like friendly competition, motivation for course completion, engagement with the material, and a sense of achievement.
Types of gamification
Practically, gamification means implementing training tactics that draw on certain motivational factors and user engagement methods. There are multiple forms that gamification can take, with a continuum stretching from almost invisible elements to outright play.
Motivational elements in training can be nearly invisible, using game design in stealthy or unconscious ways to simplify, re-enforce and drive behaviors. In motivational design, users are not aware that they are playing a game. Some examples of motivational design include programs like Delta’s Skymiles™, WeightWatchers™. These examples reward progress and achievement but avoid the overt elements of gaming.
Serious games, on the other hand, are a much more overt form of gamification. Though the words serious and games may appear contradictory at first, they refer to two distinct elements. The serious side of training game design is based on specific skills and behaviors relevant to the training, while play describes the mechanisms of the activity. It’s important to implement game design in transparent and obviously motivated ways. For example, use upbeat music, animation, or progress bars to give players a sense of achievement and enjoyment in a serious context are hallmarks of serious play design.
For a classic example, let’s look at Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. You may remember the catchy intro music by Rockapella from the game show version, but the computer game series from the early 90’s exemplifies gamification. It’s marketed as a game, presented to the young user as a game, and has all the hallmarks of game play: a memorable villain. However, the intent was to use the mechanisms of gameplay to help young minds unknowingly learn both geography and history.
Keeping Your Best People Means Better Customer Service
Customer service training can use any number of design strategies to increase engagement, but gamification have proven to be both effective and enjoyable. Engaged employees will gain more experience, and better serve your customers. Moreover, engaged employees stick around longer, significantly reducing the costs of employee attrition.