Score! Using games to motivate teams in contact centres
There’s lots of advice about how to motivate your employees and improve contact center employee satisfaction. YakTrak co-founder Brad Thomas has over 25 years’ experience in people development and he has a whole playbook of great motivational techniques to lift contact centre employee engagement.
Here Brad shares some of his favourite, tried and tested employee engagement ideas for call centres.
Happy workplaces have team members focussed on work they feel is meaningful. People who work in happy workplaces have a sense of belonging and feel they’re part of a workplace community. As a team, they’re focussed on a common goal and they’re clear about how it relates to the organisation’s strategic goals.
This sounds simple but a lot of work goes into getting the foundation right to build a high-performing team. First we need to take care of the basics – reducing dissatisfaction (the “hygiene” factors) and improving satisfaction (the “motivators”). You can read more about that here.
Once we’re confident our team has the right skills to do their jobs effectively, we can start thinking about team engagement. I like to incorporate business requirements into team activities so that team members are developing behaviours that drive a specific result within the team. I do this by identifying the key behaviours team members need to demonstrate to achieve the desired output or business outcome, and then I reward for those behaviours.
In the olden days (my days), the name of the game was “biggest sales wins!” but Australia’s Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry highlighted the dangers of rewarding outcomes only. Rewarding on behaviours delivers better outcomes for the organisation, the team and the customer. Rather than pitting team members against each other, I prefer getting the team to work in healthy competition together.
I like to follow a simple structure or system to help build the activity:
Determine focus > Set goal(s) > Choose your game > Define success and rewards.
All teams have multiple outcomes they need to achieve in order to drive success in the eyes of the organisation. Pick one that requires the most attention this week or month. Avoid trying to shift all outcomes at once.
Set the goal
Goals should align to specific behaviours linked to the focus outlined in the “Determine focus” step above. For example, if a business objective is to improve customer experience, encourage team members to ask customers for feedback on their performance and encourage customers to fill out the NPS survey. The goal may be to ask 5 different customers the following question each day:
“You may receive a survey about me, by the way how did I go?”
Choose your game
To reward on behaviours, I like games that provide a small reward each time the right behaviour is demonstrated and consequently build incrementally towards the finish line with a big reward. Here are some of my favourites.
- The Great Wall of Lego
Provide each team member with a heap of Lego bricks. Every time they hear a team member demonstrate the desired behaviour, they add a Lego brick to a wall on my desk. Every time I hear the behaviour on call monitoring activity, I add a brick myself. Every time a call quality team marked the behaviour as being demonstrated, I also add a brick. Once the wall reaches a certain size or height, the team wins!
- Marbelous Old School Marbles
In this game, team members collect marbles instead of Lego. Each time a team member demonstrates the target behaviour, they get a marble. Once the team has earned a certain amount of marbles, I draw a big circle on the ground and we play a game of old school marbles. The more marbles each team member has earned, the better their chance of winning.
- Nerf Army
In this game, each time a team member demonstrates the right behaviour, they win a nerf gun bullet. The aim is to amass enough nerf bullets to win the war at the end of the week. On Friday each team member gets a set of little green plastic toy soldiers. We line up our soldiers and have a competition where we take turns shooting them down with nerf guns. The team member with the most soldiers still standing wins. (This activity may not have stood the test of time but you can do lots of other versions similar to this where you replace soldiers and nerf guns with soft toys and bouncy balls, for example.)
- Melbourne Cup
Based in Melbourne, a city obsessed with sport, I’m never short of a sports event to build a competition around. During horse racing season, I put a race track on the wall and assign a cut out paper horse to each team member. Each time they demonstrate the right behaviour, their horse moves forward on the track. The winner is the first horse to cross the finish line.
- Grand Prix
During the Australian Grand Prix, I play a similar game with racing cars instead of horses.
- Olympic Games
During Olympic years, the options for sports-based competitions is endless, from swimming, to skiing, to running and bobsled.
Define success and rewards
Be clear on what team members have to do to win (or to qualify if it’s a multi-stage game), whether that’s the height of a wall, or the number of marbles collected, or crossing a finish line. Also define what the prize will be. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive, it can be a team lunch or getting to go home 15 minutes early. To add another layer of fun, I like to use the Wheel of Fortune where the winners spin for their prize. Different prize options include:
- Finish work 15 minutes early
- Start work 15 minutes late
- I buy your lunch for the day
- I take your calls for 30 minutes
- I have to do anything you want for 1 hr (tidy desk, get your lunch, heat up your food)
- Gift voucher
- Team lunch
And the winner is…
contact center employee satisfaction! The advantage of all these games is that they encourage teamwork and drive a business need while providing fun and entertainment. The end game is to make it worthwhile for team members to try new things to get rewards. You can be really creative and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. The $2 Dollar Shop will be your best friend for inspiration.
The usual team building activities like birthday celebrations, team lunches and going bowling still have their place, but I’ve found employee engagement ideas for call centers like these add an extra level of motivation and entertainment to the daily routine. Team members appreciate the effort to make their time on the phones a bit more fun and enjoyable.