Video games are designed to keep us hooked on a story. The challenges, the badges, the achievements and leaderboards—they’re all meant to keep us glued to the game.

In business, gamification applies the same tactics to motivate customers and employees. It’s also a useful tool for boosting customer loyalty, increasing employee productivity, and offering training and learning opportunities that employees will actually enjoy.

However, the best gamification doesn’t actually look like gamification. It’s just a strong call center program with clear goals, progress, and ways for the team to win.

In other words, it’s good management.

1. Pick One Strong Metric to Focus On

Super Mario had his coins and Sonic had his rings, but your call center probably doesn’t operate with all those shiny objects up for grabs.

Instead, your big prize is the metrics.

Call centers are used to following a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to assess their team’s performance. But in reality, too many fuzzy metrics can get confusing. Instead, focus on one big statistic to help keep your team’s eyes on the prize.

Some of the essential metrics you can choose from include:

  • First Call Resolution (FCR): This metric measures how many customer issues are resolved in a single call. It’s important to track because it shows the efficiency of your team, the quality of service provided to customers, and the size of your backlog.
  • Average Handling Time (AHT): This is the average time taken for your team members to handle a call, including any hold or transfer time. A low AHT indicates that your team can handle calls quickly.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): This measures how satisfied customers are with the service they have received from your call center. It’s a crucial metric to keep track of as it directly affects how customers perceive your brand—and how likely they are to keep buying from you.

Another tactic to consider is mandating daily standups during crunch periods or emergencies to ensure everyone’s on track.

There are other situations where daily standups are a good idea. For instance, if some team members tend to procrastinate on bigger tasks, a daily standup can help keep everyone on track. Similarly, if someone is falling behind or feeling overwhelmed, a standup allows them to ask for help and find solutions when they need it.

If your team members are simply busy, especially during peak times, daily standups might only create frustration and extra pressure. In these cases, it’s better to have weekly meetings where everyone can discuss their challenges, blockers, progress, and solutions together.

2. Review Your Leaderboard Daily

Leaderboards are where everyone can see the high scores on your team. In other words, the best-performing people.

Having some sort of leaderboard helps highly-motivated employees stay competitive, while also gently nudging everyone else to strive for more. Just like in an arcade game, a leaderboard can help bring friendly competition to your team.

To make this work, you should update your leaderboard daily, or at least every few days if that’s too much of an overhead. Letting your leaderboard collect dust will only deflate the expectations and excitement of team members who crave recognition.

Daily leaderboard check-ins are not meant to demoralize average or under-average performers. On the contrary, it should motivate them to strive for better results and see what their top colleagues are doing differently.

To make sure you get the desired effect, remember to frame all wins in a way that’s encouraging, supportive, and exciting. You want winners to rejoice and under-performers to get inspired, not bitter or jealous.

3. Recognize Winning

Wins are the first thing you should announce and the last thing you should keep secret.

Whether it’s a team member who had an outstanding month or your whole team reaching a milestone, recognizing wins is essential to keeping morale high and motivating your team.

When you publicize wins in newsletters, company-wide emails, messages on the general chat, and so on, you create a positive environment of joy and celebration in your team.

If people feel their goals are completely unattainable, they’ll either burn out or give up completely. Both scenarios are equally disastrous for the performance of your call center team because they make people feel there are basic issues that prevent them from winning.

Think of it this way: if leadership asks for the impossible, they’re not setting a high bar. They’re laying a trap. And that’s exactly where toxic management and culture begin: whispers around the watercooler, frustration, and the general feeling that no matter how much effort you put in, it won’t be enough.

So, before you start giving out brownie points for great behavior, be sure your goals are attainable and that winners are visible to everyone on the team. Plus, it’s a free way for your company to build loyalty and long-term commitment.

Finally, it’s important to reward wins in real life. For instance, taking your team out for lunch when big goals are hit can be a nice way to memorialize a moment and create bonds between your call center agents.

How to Launch Your Call Center Gamification This Week

You don’t need fancy tools to create a gamification framework for your call center.

In fact, the foundations of good gamification—and good management—are pretty simple. Set up a way to track performance, make goals your team can strive for, and offer positive reinforcement to help motivate your team.

Here are some things you can start doing this week:

  • Create a Google Sheet to use as a leaderboard. It’s considerably less fancy than a big screen and a sophisticated SaaS platform, but it can still do the trick and help you visualize progress.
  • Look at your team’s performance and choose one metric to focus on. Set a clear, SMART goal for your chosen metric: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
  • Share the goal with your team and let everyone know you will track their progress publicly.
  • Later, you can incorporate more sophisticated tools and practices like workplace optimization software, LCD screens, and even bigger prizes for major goals.

Before you get there, start small and refine your process on the way. It will still make a major difference in how your team feels at work and, ultimately, how they interact with customers.