Oren Stern is Senior VP of Product Strategy at Verint. We met him speak about gamification and Employee Engagement Management.
Gamification and the Employee Engagement Management Practice
Q: How long ago did you start looking seriously at Gamification?
A: About 2-3 years ago, in parallel to evolving our engagement management practice. Employee engagement is a significant differentiator for us, and is part of our general customer engagement optimization vision.
Q: Are there specific verticals where you view gamification as important?
A: Verint generally works a lot with B2C verticals, so everything from telecommunications to financial services, and even government. Employee engagement is important for any vertical, but especially when employees do customer facing work in a transactional environment. Studies show that more engaged employees drive more successful organizations with better business results.
Q: Gamification has many flavors. Is there a specific flavor that fits with Verint’s vision?
A: We like to see gamification as a better way to engage employees and to drive employee performance. The idea is to enrich employee interaction with customers. People who are really interested in what they do strive to provide a better experience for the customer. Gamification creates an environment where the employee feels that they’re more in tune with the vision of the organization and are focused on executing that vision.
Q: So would you define gamification as a form of performance management for customer facing employees in a very transactional environment?
A: I agree, but employee engagement is just as important where there isn’t much customer interaction. Think about back office operations and knowledge workers, such as a claim processing environment. The employees need to come in to work and have a sense of belonging to what they do and have a sense of interest and engagement. Gamification provides this platform.
Q: Can you explain how gamification ties in to the different pieces of your customer engagement platform?
A: Gamification touches several main areas of our business.
At the core level, gamification touches Verint’s workforce optimization. Workforce optimization is focused on driving and optimizing the workforce in customer engagement centers, and sometimes outside of those in areas such as back office operations or branch operations. As part of workforce optimization we offer coaching, we offer learning, we offer performance management. Gamification ties into them, enhances them and provides a better end user experience.
Another part of our business is the actual engagement management part, managing the last mile with the customer. Whether it’s chat sessions, or social, or even voice interaction in the agent desktop. When gamification is integrated into the agent desktop, you can incorporate more complex gamified experiences.
The third one is “voice of the customer”. Many organizations are starting to build ‘voice of the customer’ and ‘voice of the employee’ programs, and here we can use gamification to solicit feedback in a fun way. It also captures the voice of the employee, and makes the employee feel their voice is actually heard.
Knowledge collaboration. It’s common to think about employee engagement in terms of the individual employee. Yet people work in teams. Gamification can drive knowledge management and collaboration between employees. If you create a game where you’re managing a team, and the scores of the individual employees add up to a team score, it drives collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Gamification and Coaching
Q: can you speak about gamification and coaching?
A: Employee engagement needs to use coaching and learning as leveraging mechanisms. The idea is to measure employee performance, understand where there are gaps and then leverage coaching and learning to drive employee performance improvement.
Gamification helps do this more effectively. First of all, gamification provides an understanding of where an employee has gaps and challenges. It also provides an engaging environment where these coaching sessions or micro-learning elements are offered to the employee, as part of the game.
In many cases, employees are reluctant to take coaching or learning opportunities if they don’t readily see the value in it. When it’s part of a game, they often do so more willingly, better retain knowledge and better apply it to their work.
Q: Can you speak about gamification and change management?
A: Organizational transformation is always difficult. There’s a lot of resistance in the organization if you’re trying to implement a new methodology, or change the way you’re processing elements in your business. We deal with Fortune 100 companies. Moving their course is like moving a tanker, not a speedboat.
The technology and systems we provide drive significant changes in the organization. Gamification can take a transformation program, translate it into measurable and manageable KPIs, and then create a game that drives that organizational transformation. When those goals change over time you can tweak them, you can add them in to the game, and change course. So if you think about it it’s kind of a self-feeding loop – you identify a challenge, you adapt your KPIs to that, you change the game to drive that, and then you see results and you can continue to tweak that and change the course over time, to get to those end results.
Q: where do you see gamification in a few years from now?
A: Gamification is certainly evolving. When we started to look at gamification a couple of years ago, it was influenced by the consumer space and was more about fun and less about employee engagement. I think that the perception today is still that gamification is more about the fun factor, making work cool, and less about driving performance. But now organizations are looking very aggressively into finding more ways to engage with their employees. Millennials are changing how organizations need to communicate with employees. Millennials demand more, they want to be heard, they want to be more engaged in what they do; they leave otherwise. And so organizations leverage different mechanisms, such as gamification, which “talk” better to this younger generation, to drive employee engagement