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Allied Global, Toronto, Canada

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: Allied Global, Toronto, Canada
Entry Submitted By: Bunchball
Company Description: Allied Global has evolved from a traditional accounts receivable management firm to a multinational service provider of complete contact centre solutions. Allied Global is comprised of 2 organizations: Allied International Credit (AIC) and Neptune. Our services range from call centre outsourcing and debt recovery to interactive, automated messaging for virtually any type of application.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Use of Technology in Customer Service

Nomination Title: Allied Global: Out with old contests, in with new engagement technology

Tell the story about how technology has improved your customer service initiatives since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Allied Global, a multinational service provider of accounts receivable management and contact solutions, revamped their approach to customer service delivery in 2013. Much of the call center industry relies on big contests to motivate employees and drive improved customer service, but these contests often incentivize the wrong behavior, reward the wrong people or don’t drive lasting behavior change. In fact, internal feedback at Allied Global revealed surprising results: some employees have negative feelings toward the typical contests. Despite the intention of inspiring healthy competition and motivating better performance, many team members did not enjoy competing against people they liked and spent a majority of their time with.

A series of interviews revealed feedback that challenged conventional thoughts around contests motivating behavior. Several winners of ‘big prizes’ vocalized the de-motivation they experienced after winning a large prize because they won it by ‘beating’ their friends. Others commented that typical call center contests seemed to be designed only for top performers or suffered from the law of diminishing returns (as the contests neared the end less people felt they could win so it actually motivated people less and less as it came closer to completing).

Allied Global used this feedback to rework its entire approach toward employee engagement and performance within their customer service department. Rather than focusing on a small margin of top performers, Allied Global deployed an individually-focused competition with gamification powered by Bunchball Nitro. Gamifying their system allowed Allied Global to speed up the feedback loop and offer employees near-real-time feedback. It also helped focus motivational efforts on the largest segment of average performers who have the desire and room to improve, driving the maximum return on investment.

In this gamified environment, employees, while aware of their standing against colleagues, are not striving to beat each other. Each individual competes against his or her own “personal best” - the average of points accumulated over a rolling 14-day period- by completing actions with customers like successfully completed inbound calls, outbound calls and returned calls to earn points. While old contests may have measured the number of actions completed, Allied Global awards points based on the value of the action, thus avoiding pitfalls like hurried calls to drive increased numbers. A recent group study measuring the performance of 110 Allied Global employees from August to November 2014 showed:

-68 people are consistently scoring points within the range Allied Global identifies as “meeting or exceeding expectations.”
-42 people are blowing it out of the water and consistently exceeding their rolling 14-day average.

Almost 40 percent of veteran participants, all of whom have been participating in the gamified environment for over a month and many of whom have been participating for over 10 months, are performing above their own personal averages on a consistent basis.

Within the platform, Allied Global employees work to accumulate points to be redeemed for rewards later, while at the same time seeing where they stand in comparison to their co-workers in real-time. The feedback is frequent and the rewards many and varied – ranging from golf with the executive vice president to wine tasting with co-workers. In fact, the rewards are carefully designed and selected to activate several points of motivation. With one popular reward, the winner receives free coffee for a month as well as for all employees in his or her office section. Rewards such as this provide not just recognition, but also touch social aspects of the work environment, two key aspects of motivation and engagement.

Gallup estimates that about 70 percent of American workers are not engaged in their jobs. Allied Global avoided this with gamification from Bunchball, which allowed management to scale rewards, provide timely feedback, and engage employees over an extended period of time. While research is ongoing, more than 80 percent of participants continue to raise their own performance metrics six months (and more) into the experience.

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