There are a multitude ways companies use technology and strategy to improve the customer experience. However, no matter how robust a CRM is and how much AI is used to make the process more efficient, the quality of the customer experience relies on how well the call center agents do their job and relate to customers in an empathetic way. In a recent article, Jeremy Watkin discusses one way call centers often use to motivate their agents to deliver optimal customer service: incentives. Watkin points out that call center incentive programs can be a great way to motivate agents if done correctly, but they can cause a lot of problems and give poor results if implemented wrong.
A couple of the issues call centers have with incentive programs include only getting participation from a small number of competitive agents, only a small number of agents caring enough to put in the effort, and agents choosing to focus on one specific metric to gain the reward while ignoring other important KPIs. Watkin provides the following points that companies should review before implementing an incentive program:
- Make sure you’re not putting incentives on things that should just be job expectations.
- Have a firm plan for how long the incentive program will be in place.
- Ensure the incentives can be obtained by all agents and not tailored for specific strengths of a few.
- Incentives can be abused, so make sure the step-by-step process is thoroughly thought out before implementation.
- The agents must be first developed in an environment that encourages and motivates them to care about helping customers.
- Software needs to be in place to track the incentive program.
Gamification Can Improve Or Ruin The Call Center Environment
Watkin’s article brings up many interesting points about gamification and incentives programs within call centers. Call center gamification has many positive points, but it can also bring negativity to a work environment. In theory, gamification encourages friendly competition, camaraderie among call center agents, and an environment where people are striving to perform their best for the customers. This has been the reality for companies who have tried gamification and incentive programs, but another possibility is that it can cause a rift among agents.
Call center gamification can potentially lead managers to show favoritism to specific agents, which can cause resentment and jealousy among agents. In addition, people can become more focused on hitting numbers than actually helping customers. For example, if the main goal for incentives is based on speed, such as average handling time and response time, then it could lead to agents trying to rush along calls while sacrificing making a real connection with customers and showing genuine empathy towards their problems. Companies need to take Watkin’s checklist seriously before implementing a gamification or incentive program. A properly planned incentive program can help call centers improve performance, but failure to prepare correctly can lead to more problems than the call center started with.
This blog post is based on an article from CustomerThink. To read the original article, please click the link below:
Incentive Programs for Service Agents: A Pre-Implementation Checklist – Jeremy Watkin
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