|The Epic Blog on Gamification of CRM|
|Geschrieben von: Mario Herger|
|Mittwoch, 06. Juni 2012 um 20:45|
There are not many other professions that are more metrics-driven than the ones involved in Customer Relationship Management. How many deals were closed, how many customer calls done in a given period, how the customer satisfaction increased, how many people responded to the survey, how many eyeballs did we get? While these and many more metrics provide crucial feedback in the daily work, feedback alone does not necessarily guarantee motivation for those professionals involved. More importantly, a pure focus on these metrics may prevent organizations from reaching the full potential of their sales agents, customer care professionals and marketing specialists. The metrics-driven approach may foster competition, where there should be collaboration, put too much emphasize on discouraging negative feedback, give no clear path of how to become better in the approach, or force agents to cure the symptoms instead of the root causes.
Gamification (as you may have suspected) offers a more holistic approach for tackling these problems and – if well done – will bring out the best in the workforce involved. The way to look at it is by defining the problem, understanding the players and looking at what are the fun things that you can do with the application/system/process or activity? To start with, let's first understand CRM. Simply speaking, CRM can be categorized into these three clusters (and yes I know, there are more subcategories like Help Desk, Sales Automation, Channel Management etc.):
For this article I want to focus on the sales and support areas, and especially at the employee-facing gamification approaches.
ProblemsA few challenges that CRM faces are:
PlayersOur players (sales reps, call center agents, you name them) differ, corresponding to the tasks that are expected from them. Let's quickly look at three of them:
Traditional approachesFrom team names, competition between individuals and teams, to holiday fun games and themes (and many more examples being listed in Mary Paige Forrester's collection on Incentive Planning), game mechanics creating gamified experiences in call centers have been traditional means for years to increase agent satisfaction and lower attrition rates. While still very valid, they often feel artificially attached on top of existing processes and experiences. With gamification we finally have the methodology and technologies to make them a natural part of the industry and their work fun.
Fun ThingsA mystery for first time gamificators is how to add fun to an application. What's fun? A funny comedian? A joke? Riding a mountain bike down the hill? Running as a dragon in a Chinese dragon run? Defining fun puzzles many and luckily, we don't need to write a scientific paper. Others have done that for us and even slimmed it down for the area that we need it. Jon Radoff lists in his book Game On – Energize Your Business with Social Media Games - a total of 43 motivators that add fun (the book actually lists 42 motivators, but recently he has added one more).
Unisys Mini-Golf: A lovely way to show your customers you care by giving them an opportunity for five minutes of fun is this seasonal mail that Unisys sales reps could send to their customers. A mini-golf game for the seasons to give your customers a chance to reconnect with your brand - and a reason for me to start with a customer-facing example.
SAP Roadwarrior: This simulation addresses one of the challenges that sales reps for mobile solutions at SAP face. As the mobile area is currently very dynamic and a lot of new technologies, applications, and features are being rolled out every few weeks, sales reps have a hard time staying up-to-date with what's available and what's coming soon. Of course there are all the roll-out materials from the product teams, but this remains a tedious task. Instead, the SAP training department created a simulation game named Roadwarrior that put the learning materials inside a simulated sales scenario. Players (the sales reps) are meeting with fictitious customers, learn about the specifics of their companies, and are being asked a number of questions on the mobile solutions by them. Each customer comes with a different set of questions and during the course of the game, the players learn not only about SAP's own offerings, but also the type of questions that might be asked by real customers and the challenges different industries face. Additionally, players can compete against their fellow sales reps and see their progress on leaderboards. At the end of the game, players are way more comfortable with talking to real customers.
Salesforce.com, SAP Arena: Small extensions to the familiar scoreboards and other metrics that sales reps typically work with can be found in relatively similar implementations from Salesforce.com Salesforce Motivation and the winning submission in SAP's Gamification Cup from team SAP Arena. In addition to the sales metrics, a social component is added to the systems by allowing sales reps to see the progress of their co-workers and the ability to challenge them in a friendly competition. Badges and whimsical titles ("Super Closer") lighten the spirit of the competition.
Collaborative CRM: The competitive spirit in sales organizations may have an adverse effect on how sales teams are collaborating. A sales agent relies on the support of pre-sales teams, who often prepare demos and sales materials specifically tailored to the customer. That makes sharing of as much information as available about a customer and keeping the data updated important. Companies also want to ensure that customer specific knowledge is not lost when a sales agent leaves the organization. And sharing information on how a deal was closed, what specific tactics, and what discounts or contract details helped to win the customer is important for a learning organization as a whole. Other sales reps can profit from this knowledge and improve the overall performance of the company.
Ad 2) This model was described in the Venture Capital Model of Talent Management. Think of new sales reps as startups that you invest in and hope to get a (huge) payoff some time later. If experienced sales reps are allowed to recruit their new colleagues, and their success is tied to the success of the new hire, then the recruiting colleagues will look with different eyes at the applicants: is this candidate one that can increase my "investment portfolio" over a certain period? Each deal that this new colleague will close, each promotion that he or she will earn will contribute to my portfolio – and therefore my bonus. This way, experienced sales reps will not see the new hires as potential rivals, but as resources to nurture, by sharing information, educating and training them, supporting them whenever they can.
SupportAs we've learned, the intrinsic motivation of a call center or customer care agent is less based on competition or an "ego-centric" approach, but similar to health-care professionals based on the satisfaction of helping a customer (care-taker). The aspects of learning (like solving a new problem, and familiar ones faster and better), the connection with people, and sharing the information with fellow agents do also count high on this motivation scale.
Help them to collect (FAQ's), gain recognition for achievements ("10th customer successfully helped"), organize groups of people (help all agents understand the newest solutions to a problem), create order out of chaos (creating a structured FAQ).
In her blog post Gamification of Customer Support Lauren Carlson addresses the burnout of call center agents and the high costs associated with that. She recommends to introduce accomplishment metrics, leaderboards and gamified training experiences to keep them motivated. In her first blog more than a year ago, Lauren also addressed agent training, data quality and outbound calling intensity. Her UI mockups suggest the proper metrics and dashboards to be offered as feedback to the players.
I think that there still is a lot of opportunity to reduce the purely metrics-driven and partly competitive approach to a more collaborative and fun experience by adding social interaction between co-workers, but also by giving newbies a chance to show "oldtimers" that they can accomplish something: I am talking about a "personal best" metrics as they are known from Yahoo! Answers and the following example:
Gamified Shared Services Knowledgebase: Matthew Heffron in his blog Gamification and the Shared Services Knowledgebase mentions the appearance of "support super-stars"in their support organization. Those players "dominated forum interplay by tutoring novices, fielding high-level questions, identifying bugs and assisting with complex challenges."
There are some more interesting concepts that Matt mentions in his blog, including how users of the knowledgebase are encouraged to rate documents and suggest areas of improvement, the sense of community that needs to be instilled, and how new hires can also see success in comparison to "oldtimers" though a concept know as "personal best". Especially interesting is his paragraph of how to encourage the career advancement of associates without line managers rejecting the promotions.
Fun things: #5 Gaining Recognition for Achievements, #6 Creating order Out of Chaos, #9 Organizing Groups of People, #15 Being a Hero, #30 Nurturing
Stack Overflow: Developers are helping developers answering questions on programming problems at Stack Overflow. Members can gain reputation by giving helpful answers, earning points and badges in the community. This also gives members with high reputation more status, power and access in their respective community.
Fun things: #5 Gaining Recognition for Achievements, #14 Exchanging Gifts, #28 Mastering a Skill
SAP Community Network: similar to what Stack Overflow provides, members in this professional network share information and knowledge by blogging, answering questions from other users and structuring and contributing to the Wiki with FAQs and how-to-guides. Similar to Stack Overflow, top members have more status, power and access than regular members. From a professional side this means more interesting projects to choose from, more money they can earn and generally more opportunities to meet and network.
Fun things: #5 Gaining Recognition for Achievements, #14 Exchanging Gifts, #20 being the Ruler, #28 Mastering a Skill
Avvo: Health and law professionals respond to questions from the Avvo community, which in return assign points to answers, thus increasing the visible status of the professionals as experts. This exposure - as experienced in Stack Overflow, the SAP Community Network and other professional communities - brings more interesting opportunities and potentially better income for the top community professionals.
Fun things: #5 Gaining Recognition for Achievements, #14 Exchanging Gifts, #28 Mastering a Skill
Missions & Avatars: Stanford professor Byron Reeves describes a fun scenario in his book Total Engagement, where is call center agent personae Jennifer lives through a completely different experience. Not only does she not see the regular metrics like average handling number, number of calls waiting, abandoned calls etc. and feel the pressure of supervisors and the loneliness of not being able to connect to fellow agents, she now works from home with a flexible work schedule and dives into a virtual world with her team. Her avatar – an appealing animated character that she customized and which represents her in this virtual world – walks to the virtual office, where her team-members are already gathered and work on calls. Although the team is scattered in three different time zones, she can see the progress of the whole team through points and levels. There is also a narrative included in this virtual world. This month it is a pirate-themed narrative, where they probably have to sail their ship to the next treasure island and get ready for the next booty.
Fun things: #2 Collecting, #7 Customizing Virtual Worlds, #9 Organising Groups of People, #12 Experiencing Beauty and Culture, #21 Pretending to Live in a Magical Place, #23 Telling Stories, #41 Exploring a World
UnitedHealthcare's Appeals & Grievances (A&) You Bet!: This "is an online learning game that was created to help UnitedHealthcare customer care call center professionals appropriately recognize, differentiate, and categorize calls. Calls that may be a customer appeal or grievance can sometimes be related to a life-and-death medical situation, so it is crucial for customer care to easily and quickly identify verbal cues and categorize and resolve the calls appropriately." [Kapp, p. 175]
Fun things: #1 Recognizing Patterns, #3 Finding Unexpected Treasures, #6 Creating Order Out of Chaos, #8 Gathering Knowledge, #15 Being a Hero
UnitedHealthcare Data Miner: Another learning solution for call center representatives is the Data Mainer, a solution to learn the process of entering claims data and review them. As reward players mine jewels and points. Beside making themselves familiar with the system, players are also being tasked with "impossible" challenges. By asking the learners to accept the "ultimate challenge", they will think through unusual or infrequent applications of the procedure. At the end of the session, the players will have more confidence because they've dealt with an "impossible" procedure. [Kapp, p.182ff]
Fun things: #1 Recognizing Patterns, #2 Collecting, #12 Experiencing Beauty and Culture, #28 Mastering a Skill, #43 Enlightenment
Final thoughtsLooking at call centers, the best ones are the ones where the ratio between selling vs. solving is highest. You don't want customers to call primarily, because there is a problem but because they want to buy. That leads me to the mantra of not curing the symptoms, but solving the root causes first. And this is where support center agents from a gamified CRM system come in handy. The best agents - exposed through the systems – know the ins and outs of the services and products, and especially the flaws. Involve them in the product design process, development and testing. What a great way to make products better and reward call center agents. And don't stop here, do the same for the sales agents. Make them an integral part of what products and services they experience that customers desire in their day-to-day field operations.
CRM Systems with gamification technologies
Beside the above mentioned examples, a first batch of CRM systems include built-in game mechanics, and a number of service providers focus on the gamifcation aspect of CRM-systems. Zurmo is an open source solution that just recently announced the integration of game mechanics, while Playcall from Arcaris is a gamified call center service. Additionally San Francisco-based Cadalys built their own gamification engine for Force.com, and Salt Lake City-based IActionable gamified multiple of their customers' Salesforce.com-instances.
Current approaches to gamify CRM-experiences both for employees and customers have already shown first promising concepts and successes, nonetheless, we are seeing only the beginning of our understanding of how to naturally design gamified CRM-systems. Right now most of the approaches are just tacking gamification on top of good and bad designs, and still focusing too much (for my taste) on competition. I am positive that in the mid term, we will see gamified CRM that will drastically change the way we treat and empower both our employees and customers in that field.