Animated gaming simulations decrease cancellations in Detroit

by Bob Davis and Gary W. Evans        

Web-based 3-D animated gaming simulations at the Detroit News/Free Press increased call-in, cancellation save rates 33% by engaging contact centre agents.

Click the image to view a larger versionThe Detroit News and Detroit Free Press contact centre experiences newspaper delivery complaints as well as calls to cancel or downgrade subscriptions.
By building on its customer care basic training programme with the use of animated game simulations, it has increased its cancellation saves rate by 33%. 
Agents have fun learning and deepening their conversational skills. They test themselves and learn from their “mistakes.” When they engage in a “quality conversation” that satisfies customers (more on that shortly), they are rewarded with the satisfaction of performing at their best. 
Supervisors and company leadership report that they are also very pleased with the simulations.
For more than 10 years, we have helped contact centre agents boost revenues. We’ve been very successful using an approach we call “The Quality Conversation.” It is highly effective, but it requires a commitment of time, effort, and money to teach. 
However, by using 3-D animated gaming simulations for contact centre training, we’ve been able to help agents find the true reasons for customer concerns and subsequently offer solutions that satisfy and retain the customer. 
Agents in Detroit, left on their own to play the gaming simulations, remain deeply engaged and achieve a higher saves rate on average. Additionally, the newspapers hired new employees who never had traditional training and coaching. When they began the gaming simulations, they increased their saves rates by an average of 22% — and in one case, 50%.
One of the most interesting things about the Detroit case was that saves rates spiked from 22% to 34% after the traditional training and coaching workshop. But about three weeks after the workshop, the saves rates began to dip down. This is typical after a training programme without intensive follow-up coaching, because agents tend to forget their new skills and return to old habits. 
Many companies face a fiscal problem when it comes to contact centre training. They allocate dollars for the training programs themselves, but tight budgets often prevent expenditures on critical follow-up.
This is especially true for small contact centres with only 10 to 15 agents. Gaming simulations provide a solution to this problem.
In the Detroit case, two good things happened:
  1. Immediately, the slide reversed and results returned to their post-training levels. So clearly these applications drive sustainability. 
  2. The gaming simulations only cost about US$45 per agent per month. That’s the cost of acquiring one new subscriber, so one save paid for the application. The total increase in saves in Detroit delivered a large return on investment. 
Here’s an example of how 3-D animated gaming simulations work:
Agents log on and engage with a virtual customer. In the gaming simulation, the virtual customer has called in to cancel a subscription and talks with the agent, who can respond by clicking on one of several choices. 
Each choice takes the agent to a new screen, the virtual customer’s next reaction, and additional response choices that will lead to the save or the sale —as long as the agent follows pre-programmed best practices. 
Incorrect answers receive increasingly negative responses from the customer, ultimately resulting in a cancellation and upset customer.
The gaming simulation keeps score based on correct and incorrect responses and how long it takes the agent to properly resolve the issue or secure the save or sale.
Each response or lack of response to a given scenario by the agent results in point calculations and coaching tips. These gaming simulations also track key metrics related to revenue growth and game usage. 
Since the gaming simulations are Web-based, agents can log in via Internet to play from any computer — and they do. We’ve seen agents so engaged and having so much fun with the games that they are motivated to play not only on-site during training, coaching sessions, and periods of slow contact volume, but also on their own time at home. 
What’s more, the games are perfect for contact centres that have home-based agents.
Call centre agents as a group — many of them younger people for whom gaming is a part of everyday life — are teeming with motivation to play video and online games. Contact centres will do well to tap into that powerful motivation. 

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