Robert Cowen

Robert Cowen

Gamification has been very successfully used within incentive programs for years. It’s the perfect way to incent call center workers, including debt collectors.

My benchmark for success with gamification is an improvement of at least 20 percent in KPI’s when spending around two hours worth of labor cost per employee per month.  For example, if paying $12 per hour, plan to spend $18 to $30 per month. This will generate an excellent ROI.

Most behaviors lack momentum to continue beyond the end of an incentive program.  Programs that are at least six months long generate twice the results of shorter term ones!

I’ve observed four tenets behind the most successful gamified incentive programs.

1. Reward the daily homework. Take large activities and break them into their smallest components; reward them as they occur.  If improved attendance is a goal, provide a small daily reward in addition to a larger “five days in a row” award.  This will achieve significantly greater improvement than weekly, monthly or quarterly attendance rewards.  The behavior science behind this principle is “continuous positive reinforcement” and is a key requirement for Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials.  Its purpose is to teach new behaviors.

2. Have fun. Whether playing spin-the-wheel, drawing a ticket from a bowl or other simple and quick games, it’s absolutely critical to incorporate random positive output into every reward!  All results must be positive; the unknown is the number of points. This principle is called “random intermittent reinforcement” and is used to keep learned activities exciting. You can see its enormous power by observing slot machine players (who know they will lose money) or watching the Speed Camera Lottery video on YouTube. I was recently told by a collector that “recognition and badges are great but I really love the excitement of the various games.” Omitting randomized output in gamification is one of the most assured pathways to failure!

3. Reward immediately. If increased promises, successful skip tracing or passing a daily one question compliance quiz are your goals, reward success soon as possible. Don’t delay the reward until the next paycheck. Incentives that are included in regular payroll quickly become perceived as an entitlement.

4. Choice of rewards is crucial. Rewards that are not coveted will not elicit desired behaviors.  Allowing the recipient to determine what the reward is, when and where to acquire it also solves your problem of not knowing what to offer.  Rather than a limited selection of overpriced merchandise or highly marked-up gift cards, a Visa or MasterCard debit card (fixed value or reloadable) empowers your employees.

Snowfly is the leading provider of Internet based employee incentives, recognition and loyalty programs.  Snowfly’s incentive system allows clients to harness the enormous motivational power of immediate positive reinforcement to focus employee behavior on company objectives.  Compared with home-grown programs, Snowfly significantly improves KPI’s almost immediately, reduces a huge administrative burden and reduces costs.  The results are easily seen within weeks and there is no long term contractual obligation.  Customers include multiple Blue Cross/Blue Shield providers, Hyatt Hotels, Time Warner Cable, financial institutions, utility companies, cable/satellite providers, various BPO companies (business process outsourcers), and collection departments/agencies.  For more information, contact Snowfly at 1-877-SNOWFLY (766-9359) or email Bob Cowen at

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