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nGUVU Interview Response
Aidan: The system looks fun and inviting, but in a way its user interface seems more like a game and less like workplace software? Do people really take it seriously?
Jean-Marc: While the interface uses what we refer to as "game mechanics", based on the most common and well-received features in a typical reward-based system or video game, the data we are putting into play is actually the reports and metrics already used by contact centers/call centers to run performance monitoring and reporting.
To put that in perspective, typical call centers use metrics like Average Call Handling Time (AHT), Customer Satisfaction scores from surveys (CSAT), and dozens of other Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPIs.
We take these dry, mundane metrics, and integrate them into our gaming interface, allowing call center agents to see their current standing, progress, and objectives in real time.
No more waiting until your performance review with your manager, or the end of the month, to see how you are doing.
Aidan: Why does it work? Apart from prizes from competition, the system doesn’t pay for performance. Why do you think the system hooks people?
Jean-Marc: It works based on several motivational triggers, all well-established by workplace psychology, and gaming as well. And actually, there is a paid element to the reward system. You see, when we designed this application, nGAGEMENT, we kept the platform open in terms of how you use "points". A manager can set-up a contest whereby the contact center agent with the most points for AHT, for instance, gets a cash bonus at the end of the month.
We recently added "Guvus", our in-app currency - think of it as a Bitcoin - to make the link to monetary rewards even more tangible.
But it's not necessary to always tie the rewards back to compensation. For some it's a daily engaging experience, where they try to beat their own established standing and better themselves, in order to get a positive performance review, and the praise, rewards, promotion that typically comes with that milestone.
In an outbound sales call center environment, the app keeps sales staff competitive. one of our modules within the app allows managers to set-up contests, like SPIFFs, to reward the best sales representative. Instead of using a whiteboard, they can simply launch the contest in our app, and send progress notifications - think of a Facebook news feed - to the entire company, a specific team, or a dedicated department.
It's a very adaptable, flexible model.
Aidan: What is the importance of avatars to the system? Why use avatars instead of employee photos?
Jean-Marc: After going through a lot of market research and due diligence prior to launch, and folks prefered the avatar, because they can build an image of what they represent, their beliefs - we had one company, Telus, a large Canadian telecom, use all animal avatars that match their corporate ad campaigns. It's a little bit of fun to get people inspired. Also, we offer bonus items, like avatar accessories to reward basic behavioral changes, like logging in consistently to check your standings.
Aidan: In an article written about the platform, you say that “Agents who become high-performers are inspired to pass on their best practices to those who may require more encouragement, thereby assisting with a task that is typically reserved for managers”. Isn’t it wrong to pass on unpaid labour to lower level employees? Wouldn’t it be bad for company morale to make employees police eachother?
Jean-Marc: What this passage was meant to convey is that we have observed agents that are doing well, use the system to coach others that are newer or need encouragement. We have received feedback to our app actually promotes collaboration. And managers will recognize this, attributing rewards to those that are team players.
Aidan: Can you share any information as to the success of the platform business wise? Is it profitable or is it still running on startup funding?
Jean-Marc: We launched in late 2014, and have customers across the US and Canada. We are revenue positive, and count among our reference accounts the following organizations: Telus (telecomm/internet), SIHO (Southern Indiana Health Organization), LasikMD (the largest laser eye corrective surgery clinic network in North America), and many others we can't name just yet.