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Gamified Helpdesk Concepts May Combat Agent Burnout

It's not all fun and games in the contact center. Or is it? "Gamifying" - the process of adding game elements - to your help desk software is the newest way to help boost agent engagement and prevent burnout.

ICMI recently asked its audience to vote on the agent issues they were facing in the contact center. Not surprisingly, two of the highest-ranked issues are Agent Burnout/Stress Management and Engagement/Keeping Agents Engaged. Stress management has consistently been a hot topic in the contact center, one that ICMI continues to address through our our training and books.

But, when you think of ways to prevent burnout in your center, do video games come to mind? What about a social application?

Wikipedia defines Gamification as "the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes (also known as 'funware), in order to encourage people to adopt them." Software vendors have been adding gaming elements to their business and marketing applications for some time now. So, how does this fit into the contact center's software and processes?

Gaming Concepts for the Contact Center

Lauren Carlson, CRM Analyst at Software Advice, has been keeping tabs on this software trend. In her recent article, Gamification: The Key to Preventing Support Agent Burnout, Carlson discusses the potential benefits of gamifying help desk software, and offers a series of concept illustrations that exhibit how these game elements can be applied to a typical agent UI (user interface).

The team at Software Advice developed these examples based on three processes that have been identified as the core pillars of gamification:

    1. Measurable action
    2. Reputation and
    3. Incentives

Another objective in developing these UI concepts is to establish a sense of accomplishment for the agent as he or she progresses through regular tasks. In the article, Carlson points to research conducted by Richard White, CEO of customer support software vendor UserVoice, concluding that many agents quit because they feel no sense of accomplishment in their work. Carlson says, "The support team environment is a demanding one, where support agents can get easily burned out, leading to a high turnover rate."

Below are four concept illustrations developed by Carlson and the team that show how a typical UI can be gamified to track and report various contact center metrics. The general idea is simple: daily processes are tallied and tracked visually, as well as benchmarks and goals. (If you're familiar with apps like foursquare or Gowalla, it's a similar idea). The visual aspect helps to establish and reinforce the agent's sense of accomplishment, and to encourage that future goals be met.

Accomplishment Metrics

Gamification Dashboard
The illustration above shows that the gamification of accomplishment metrics would simply add a counter to the agent's UI to track performance metrics for any given period of time. In this example, the Number of Support Ticket Resolutions", Number of "Quick" Resolutions and Positive Customer Feedback metrics are displayed. Each time the agent resolves a ticket the Resolutions tally would increase by one. The Quick Resolutions can be set up to measure service level per the contact center's (or agent's) individual goals. The "Thumbs Up" icon indicates Positive Customer Feedback that the agent has received. Carlson suggests that every resolution ticket could have a link at the bottom that invites customer to leave feedback for the agent. When positive feedback is left, the agent will see an increase in the Thumbs Up counter.


Gamification Leaderboard
The gamified agent Leadboard would work on the same concept as the metrics application, but would be visible to the entire team, not just a single agent. "A little bit of healthy competition can be a great motivator," Carlson says. The leaderboard above aggregates the three above metrics for every agent on the team and sorts them from the highest to lowest rating. In this example, the Score metric has been added into the aggregate. Much like the Quick Resolutions metric, Score would vary based on the needs of the contact center.

Gamification Team Leadboard
A variation on the agent leaderboard is the Team Leaderboard. Carlson points out that most organizations have parallel help desk operations where agents are broken out into teams, which track metrics as a team as well as individually. Many team leaders choose to make their team's metrics public because they enjoy the healthy competition it creates. Adding a team leaderboard into the help desk UI would enable teams to benchmark their performance against peers and encourage some friendly team competition. Mangers could then use the competitive aspect as a way to leverage incentives and rewards.


Gamification Training
Another way gamification could be integrated into contact center processes is agent training. By adding elements of gameplay to training, a valuable sense of accomplishment – and confidence – can be instilled in new agents as they progress through the onboarding process. Carlson also notes that a training app would address an important aspect of all agent training time: "When agents are training, they aren’t serving customers." In the example above, the training process becomes a timed game; agents must make it through each "challenge", or training module, as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Successful completion of the training challenges will not only help improve agent’s skills and timing, but it will also track the agent’s progress through the system and allow for a manager to review and analyze the results.

Added these elements can give your metric tallies a new twist: one that keeps up with popular social application and "badging" trends to bring fun and motivation to the contact center.

Would you try any of these gamification concepts in your center? If you could, which would you choose any why? (Or why not?) Share your thoughts with us here.

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.