Delivering superior customer service is serious business. When a company does it right, all is well with the world. When it's the opposite, the mishap spreads like wildfire on social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, and the results can be devastating. Remember what happened to Netflix?
The serious business implications of executing on a customer service strategy don't mean it can't be fun. In fact, today many organizations are making gamification a part of that very strategy. Gamification is used in business applications to encourage people to use them. It also can drive customers to help themselves through self-service vehicles.
The reason gamification works is that most of us enjoy being challenged and recognized. By adding gaming elements to what may be considered mundane or boring tasks, companies are providing a richer customer experience that encourages, motivates, recognizes, and rewards customers.
Gamification can have a very positive impact on customer engagement. As companies recognize and reward their customers, the customers themselves are motivated to contribute. When customers help each other that reduces the need for them to log an inquiry with the company and wait for a reply from the agent, resulting in accelerated resolution times. This is important because fast resolution time has proven to be the number one way to increase customer satisfaction.
Companies also use gamification to encourage specific behavior. For example, if an organization wants people to ask and answer questions on community forums, they can reward those who do so with points. Some people will simply continue to contribute to gain more points. There is some quiet force in human nature that if you give a person points, he or she has the desire to increase them.
The latest buzzword in customer services is "unsourcing." Unsourcing basically is getting customers to support each other as described above. You may ask why would people do it if they don't get paid? The answer is: For the same reason they volunteer-it makes them feel good by helping a cause or another human being.
What unsourcing also does is help reduce costs. Research firm Gartner estimates that using communities to resolve support issues can reduce costs by up to 50 percent. The Economist recently reported that when TomTom, the maker of GPS navigation systems, switched to unsourcing, customers themselves handled 20,000 cases in its first two weeks, saving the company around $150,000.
Another way gamification can be successful is by creating a game-like experience when people are in the middle of what normally would be considered a bad experience. If someone is "on hold" waiting for help, providing some sort of game to play will make the time seem to go faster. Another example is companies giving rewards to people who have identified outages, have unresolved issues, or been the victim of a company not living up to a service level agreement.
Gamification's Impact on the Customer Service Agent
In general, happy customer service agents deliver better service, and gamification can contribute to their happiness. Many companies use competitive games to motivate their agents, recognizing top performers by displaying electronic leader boards in the workplace. In doing this, however, businesses need to be sure they are not demotivating people by listing the bottom performers. The best way to handle this is to only show the top few, thus creating a positive competitive environment to get on the list. It's a modern day take on the "employee of the month."
Today's companies have the ability to make customer service a win-win-win for companies, customers, and customer service agents by using gamification. In doing so, they reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, and add an element of fun to their brand.