How To Improve Call Center Agent Performance? Competition


Competition is a natural part of human nature, but it’s not a natural part of call center operations. That said, if you can tap into the natural competitive instincts of your agents, you can boost your call center’s overall performance. 

Some of the most common ways of doing so include introducing games and other team-building activities to change the nature of your staff’s day-to-day tasks. If successful, these strategies can produce impressive results both in terms of team productivity and in terms of individual engagement. 

Healthy competition among employees, therefore, does several important things—from encouraging team members to get to know each other and form bonds with their colleagues to driving up individual agent motivation and improving your call center performance metrics.

How to Create Healthy Competition to Improve Agent Performance

Several strategies can be incorporated to turn your call center into a more lively, fun, and performance-driven workplace where agents want to work.

Gamify work to improve call center agent performance

Gamification doesn’t just introduce friendly competition into your workplace; it can also turn tedious work into something far more enjoyable. 

It’s also easy to do. Simply create a few small groups or pairs of agents and give them short, spontaneous games to play. The key to success is following a few easy tips:

  • Choose the right teams. It’s natural to assign two or more work buddies to the same team, but you have to be confident that they will challenge each other rather than slack off and not take the competition seriously. For that reason, it’s often better to create teams of co-workers who don’t know each other very well (or even at all), or to assign teams by department.
  • Use gamification software. You’ll want to leverage technology to make your competitions easier for you to administer and for your agents to participate in. Dedicated software can often provide a more immersive experience and make keeping track of points a breeze. This is especially helpful for ongoing competitions where players need to collect points over multiple days. 
  • Take some games offline. Tech isn’t always the answer, so mix things up by offering some traditional types of competition. For example, on-the-hour trivia breaks, short bingo games to start or end the day, and lunchtime mini-competitions can bring the group together and foster camaraderie. These activities can also break up the monotony of a typical call center day.
  • Skip the company-wide leaderboard. It’s tempting to think that posting a large leaderboard for all to see is the way to motivate agents to excel. For some agents, that might be true. For others, not so much. In many cases, agents who don’t make it onto the top of the leaderboards—especially those who are near the bottom—can become demotivated. If you want to use leaderboards, limit them to just the top few performers or keep them within small groups of co-workers rather than the entire team.

Take competition outside the workplace when you can 

Regular team-building activities aren’t usually associated with call centers. After all, taking the whole team offline to participate in a group activity can be hard to schedule when you have customers to serve. In any case, these activities can be worth the effort, even if you have to split the team up in chunks and only do them a few times per year.

One of the best parts about non-workplace competitions is that they can require different sets of skills. For example, an agent who struggles the most in the workplace might be a top competitor at a team-building event. Experiencing success like that can be transformational and positively affect their workplace performance.

You can consider two types of team-building activities: offsite experiences (which usually last several hours up to a full day) and onsite activities (which you can usually knock out in an hour or two. 

Some offsite team-building activity ideas include the following:

  • Ropes courses. These take agents far away from the workplace and into a totally new, adrenaline-filled environment. The courses vary depending on the facility, but usually involve low and high elements that require participants to challenge themselves and rely on teammates to complete each course successfully.
  • Escape rooms. Nothing encourages teamwork like a group of people working together to gather clues, solve puzzles, and perform tasks to accomplish a goal in a set amount of time. Keep in mind that escape rooms are not always about finding a way out of a locked space, as many of them are more about solving challenges and advancing in the game.
  • Murder mystery games. These are often turnkey events arranged by a third party that plans all the details ahead of time. In this case, all your team members have to do is show up and participate—though they may also be asked to put on costumes to get into the theme of the game. During the activity, participants work together to find clues and figure out “who did it.” These games are usually accompanied by a meal set up by the third party, offering yet another opportunity for building camaraderie and friendship.
  • Creating for a charitable cause. Small teams work together to build an item that, when completed, will be donated to a local charity. This is a great way to combine teamwork with a worthy goal, such as building bicycles for underprivileged kids or furniture for a homeless shelter. Completing these activities helps foster teamwork, communication, and trust. Plus, the end result is for a good cause.
  • Physical games. Challenging colleagues to a lively game of paintball or go-kart racing can be a fun team-building activity. However, before you go down this path, carefully assess your team to determine if they will be excited or put off by the physical requirements of the experience. The key to any team-building activity is that everyone is willing to participate. Paintball and go-kart racing can be great options, but only for the right teams. Ax throwing (or anything that involves sharp objects) is best for teams that already get along.

Keep in mind that team-building activities don’t have to be day-long events and you don’t have to take your team too far away from the office either. If you need to keep things close to the call center or are on a tight budget, you still have options that can be just as effective. You can arrange for a one or two-hour activity to take place right at the workplace.

Hiring a professional team-building facilitator to come to your workplace and manage the activity is possible, but you can also take a more do-it-yourself approach. If you’re going the DIY route, here are some easy ideas to implement:

  • Office Olympics. Think of the typical Olympic Games and devise simple activities that mimic those. Obstacle courses, short races, paper airplane throws, a coffee mug marathon. The options are endless.
  • Scavenger hunts. Send small teams around your office building (or even into the community) to find clues, solve riddles, and be the first to complete all of the tasks. Teams can be of any size, and you can include as few or as many activities as you like.
  • Charades. Tried-and-true team-building activities remain popular because they are easy to implement, fun to do, and practically guarantee a lot of laughs—all things you want to encourage when you roll out a team-building activity like charades.
  • Board games. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple board game to bring co-workers together. Games that can be completed in a short amount of time can foster friendly competition while also being easy on your budget.
  • Lunch and learn. Organize short presentations over lunch. One idea is for agents to take turns sharing a special skill, hobby, or interest they may have. Give colleagues a chance to ask questions, too. This is a great way for people to get to know more about each other in ways they may not have expected.

If you have a remote team that never gets together in person, be aware that there are DIY team-building activities for you, too. Try a popular office game like Two Truths & a Lie, which is easily doable on a group video call. You can also set up an online problem-solving game via an online vendor or by designing one yourself. The key is to bring people together as a virtual group to complete a non-work activity.

Final Thoughts

There’s a way to make any team-building activity fun and enjoyable, but remember that you likely have a mixture of introverts and extroverts at your call center—even though the job seems to be made for introverts. In any case, expect that some people will jump at the chance to participate in certain activities while others will be more reserved. Give everyone time to loosen up and encourage everyone to participate at their own pace or comfort level.

In general, you should aim to schedule at least one team-building activity each quarter. The point is consistency—whether that means throwing the same company BBQ at the same location with the same games every single time or choosing a new destination for a completely different field trip each quarter. 

If you’re not sure what to pick, just ask your agents and go from there. When you give them something to look forward to and a way to participate in the decision-making, they’ll be more encouraged and motivated, making even the most monotonous days easier to endure.

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