The service desk is a useful, necessary, and important function of the IT department. But face it, the work isn’t the most glamorous around. Much of the workers’ time is spent answering redundant questions and conducting monotonous tasks, with very little to show for it at the end of the day other than the number of tickets resolved.
Gamification makes the work of the service desk fun and interesting by introducing a competitive element. Workers get points for achievements, such as points for fast ticket resolution and points for superior customer feedback. The gaming element can be incorporated into the existing service desk software, or an entire new interface can be put into place that brings a gaming element into the workflow process. Can gamification benefit your IT service desk?
The Potential Advantages of Gamifying the IT Service Desk
Gamification gives service desk workers something that the job is inherently lacking: a sense of achievement. High turnover rates among IT service desk workers is strongly correlated to burnout caused by redundancy and monotony without the satisfaction of having accomplished anything worthwhile for the efforts expended.
Gamification offers the service desk three important elements to boost the workers’ sense of achievement: it makes their improvements measurable, it lets them establish a reputation for the quality of their work, and it gives them incentives for improvement. Not only does gamification make the workday more fun and interesting, it also provides useful metrics to access performance, to quantify how particular procedures affect the level of service offered, and even to help in determining employee raises and bonuses.
The Potential Disadvantages of Gamifying the IT Service Desk
Though it sounds promising, gamification of service desk isn’t without critics. Even some within the gaming industry argue that some of the most important elements in service desk work — such as truly caring about customers — aren’t quantifiable. Therefore, gamification is harmful in the long run, because it motivates workers to improve on measurable things like fast ticket resolution without focusing on improvements in unquantifiable areas like whether or not the worker actually made a meaningful difference in how customers feel about the company. Obviously, if the gamification of the service desk is structured to reward speed over customer satisfaction it won’t be beneficial to the long term of the service desk at all.
How to Leverage the Advantages and Avoid the Disadvantages
Since every worker is different, rewards are most effective when they offer a variety of ways to achieve success. Points achieved through gamification should translate into real-world motivation, such as a free lunch, extra time off, or a certificate to hang on the worker’s cubicle wall. Rewards should be based on what motivates the workers, as well as what the company can afford to offer. After all, failing to provide the promised reward would be demoralizing, not incentivizing.
The gaming system should also offer rewards that are realistically attainable. For instance, if the average worker has been resolving 25 tickets per day, offering rewards starting at 500 ticket resolutions per day isn’t going to offer incentives to anyone. The goal will be seen as unattainable and nobody will even try. Set up levels of goal attainment that every worker can hope to attain if they just put forth the effort.
The goals system in the service desk also needs to directly relate to the goals of the business. Say the number one problem faced by the business is the customers’ perception that the company doesn’t care about them. Would it make sense to reward service desk workers for rushing through ticket resolutions, or should you offer rewards based on great customer feedback? The structure of the gaming system has to support the end goals of the business for it to work.
There also needs to be provisions for rewarding workers for notable achievements outside the gaming structure — such as recognizing and showing appreciation to a worker who spent three hours solving a particularly difficult problem. Their ticket resolutions quota for the day may have dropped significantly, but they should be recognized and rewarded for going the extra mile even though it hurt their measurable statistics.