From WFO to WEM
Over the past five years Workforce Optimization (WFO) emerged as an umbrella term encompassing several contact technologies geared at improving agent skills and expertise, improving the quality of customer interactions, improving the customer experience (CX) and customer satisfaction (CSAT), and reducing costs. WFO drew from the data and core analytics capabilities of existing product sets, namely quality monitoring, call recording and interaction analytics, as well as workforce management (WFM) and performance management. WFO is more integrated, pulled together and embellished than often siloed applications, and is optimized for contact center performance.
Workforce Engagement Management (WEM), a recent offshoot of WFO, brings with it a much needed focus on engaging the contact center workforce, much in the same way as we have sought to engage with customers. WEM is a natural evolution of WFO, which initially was focused on optimizing contact center resources for the betterment of the customer and the bottom line, rather than the agent. WEM takes aim at the front lines to the customer, improving the employee experience, which ultimately impacts CX. This focus is invigorating the contact center space, with spillover benefits that reverberate across the organizational landscape, from reduced costs and lower churn rates, to improved CSAT.
Components of WEM
WEM draws from worker-focused tools, such as flexible scheduling packages, personalized training and coaching, and revamped agent workspaces. But it also focuses on agent empowerment, assistance, and reward. WEM facets in this regard include gamification, flexible scheduling, mobile apps, team communication and collaboration, eLearning, and knowledge management.
Perhaps you’re among the majority of contact center operators that has abandoned management by Excel spreadsheet, and is moving along the trajectory of ditching disparate WFO applications to utilizing a suite of applications that can significantly improve operational efficiency. While enjoying the benefits cohesive WFO can bring, perhaps you’ve also listened to the mantra being chanted throughout the customer care world of agent engagement and empowerment.
If you have embraced WFO and thinking about WEM, now what do you do? Where do you start? Agent engagement and empowerment is not a one and done deal. You can employ Voice of the Employee (VoE) surveys as you have Voice of the Customer (VoC). That’s a good start. You can tweak your WFM schedules to be more flexible. You also can bring in tools to allow collaboration between groups and better connect your agents with each other.
These are all excellent choices in moving the needle to greater efficiency and employee retention. But wait just a minute. There is one category of applications—gamification—that can have a huge impact on workforce engagement, yet often makes it no further than the RFP check off list, pushed aside for seemingly more important, budget-worthy items. However, while often under-marketed, and even misunderstood (one contact center manager said that his upper management would have nothing to do with an app that had “game” in it), gamification actually checks all the boxes on benefits associated with WEM including cost reduction, employee satisfaction and retention, increased revenue, and the like. Let me repeat that. Gamification checks all the soft and hard benefits of WEM.
The purpose of a Gamification platform is to help align employee activity with company goals. It should easily enable supervisors, on up, to incentivize employees to perform better based on any number of key performance indicators (KPIs), from improving productivity, adhering to schedules, and decreasing agent turnover, to improving quality and compliance. It uses performance data to drive the platform and achieve outcomes.
A stellar example of this is the Noble Gamification solution, which has brought Noble Systemscustomers a wealth of benefits, from exceptional agent and supervisor engagement to cost reduction. The solution was designed to satisfy core motivational requirements for workers, including basic needs such as monetary compensation, flexible schedules, personal recognition, and rewards. It also satisfies the personal needs to belong through team building, peer-to-peer communication, and collective goals and mission. It engenders empathy for peers, and provides workers with the opportunity to grow.
The Noble Gamification platform ties opportunity and reward across the organization, from agents and supervisors to business unit leaders and executives, essentially “gamifying” the entire organization, not just the contact center. Everyone has a stake and can be given recognition. This approach, in particular, motivates supervisors, as it is typical for them to have come from the ranks of agents themselves. Executives can reward someone through the platform for doing a good job or for even doing something above and beyond, and agents can recognize their peers.
Noble Gamification also normalizes the process of recognizing and rewarding employees regardless of tenure and experience in the organization or which type of campaign they are working on. For example, contact center turnover typically is highest during the first 90 to 150 days of the onboarding period. Noble Gamification alleviates this challenge by allowing agents to accrue points, badges, and other motivators more quickly in the beginning when they are in the learning phase, so they are rewarded for learning to navigate their new work environment and workload. Afterwards, the criteria can be modified to stretch out the period of reward for previous achievements and encourage new ones.
For coaching and learning, results are integrated into scorecards, which make it very easy to see where agents are in terms of guidance needs. Additionally, the platform has an integrated learning management system, with game mechanics applied to easily facilitate agent training.
While the list of benefits looks good on paper, the real proof is in the tangible customer results. Sekure Merchants started as a small start-up in 2006, and is now the leading provider of merchant processing solutions, servicing over 2K merchants monthly. The company has grown 300% over the past ten years and currently has 500 agents in three locations. Together, these locations process 120K to 150K outbound calls per day.
The company has been a Noble Gamification user since November 2017. Its goals for Gamification adoption were to leverage market-leading technology to create an exceptional work environment that would engage workers and provide a better sense of community. Transparency was also a core goal, so Sekure Merchants wanted a platform where it is evident to everyone what the goals and results are and is simple for workers to see where they stand in relation to their own performance and that of others. Another key requirement was to provide a sense of community and allow for recognition among coworkers to foster team spirit and higher levels of engagement.
Noble Gamification provided Sekure Merchants with visible and measureable results. Overall, the company realized the following outcomes:
- 200% more productivity in 50% less time
- Targets hit 40 to 60% more often than before gamification
- Higher quality and less rework — less than 1% error rate
- More than 1500 hours saved in the first seven months because of the Noble interface
- 10 to 25% increase in employee productivity
- Three recording-breaking revenue months in 2018 through mid-year
- Profitability increase — $50K a year in personnel costs
- 25 to 50% increase in employee first month retention
- Deployment cost reduction
- 10 to 25% less on bonus spending
The company loved the freedom of creating an unlimited number of competitions and duels, with very little managerial effort. Agents are now coming to work and initiating duels based on management KPIs, and walk in every morning to find someone on the floor that they can compete with and challenge. Frost & Sullivan believes that examples such as Sekure Merchants’ success exemplify how effectively adoption of gamification can provide quick measureable benefits, such as those above, along with visible spikes in employee satisfaction.