Victoria Strokan of Ticketless discusses how gamification and bonuses could change how employees engage with company missions and KPIs.
At SaaStock 2019, Siliconrepublic.com caught up with Victoria Strokan, who is head of marketing at Ticketless, an Amsterdam-based SaaS tool for customer support teams that can be integrated into Zendesk.
Ticketless has developed a performance management platform, Dojo, and Strokan said that the main objective for the platform is to give employees the ability to manage their own performance and understand what their key goals are.
“Often when you see a company mission written on a wall in an office, a lot of people that work there do not relate to it at all. They see it and think, ‘Whatever!’ People have no idea how their own work is related to the writing on the wall.”
Strokan said that she understands the frustrations felt by employees working in those areas, particularly when it comes to fulfilling key performance indicator (KPI) targets.
“Customer support agents feel like KPIs are made to pressure and control them, or tell them what they shouldn’t do,” she said. “KPIs don’t say what you actually need to do to improve your performance or what you need to do to get promoted.”
Changing that attitude with gamification
Ticketless developed Dojo with employees in mind rather than managers, in contrast to standard KPI or analytics tools. According to Strokan, it aims to bring some transparency to the process from the employee’s point of view.
“Here’s how it works: agents deal with tickets every day and every action is measured in Zendesk already, because we’re integrated with Zendesk.
“We give them points for each action. Different actions are worth different amounts of points. They see those points up front, so when they choose what to do next, we help them prioritise their work. They can make the decision to perform a task that’s worth more points than another task.”
‘Often when you see a company mission written on a wall in an office, a lot of people that work there do not relate to it at all’
– VICTORIA STROKAN
The value of each action is determined by the importance linked to it by the manager’s KPIs. Strokan noted that agents usually try to avoid easier, lower-value tasks and aim a bit higher to secure more points.
“It’s not about making someone do something. It’s about telling someone what is needed from them upfront, rather than waiting until they’ve done something and telling them, ‘We don’t like how you perform’.”
Employees using the Ticketless platform are given avatars that can be dressed up in different outfits and are unlocked as they achieve more goals and pass more milestones. The avatar, which lives in a dojo in an animated village, grows larger and larger as the user hits targets and meets their KPI goals.
What’s the point in…points?
The team at Ticketless researched what does and doesn’t work when it comes to using gamification to encourage engagement.
“What we know about gamification is that it really only engages people for [a short amount of time]. Then people aren’t really interested in challenges or unlocking badges,” Strokan said.
“We thought, why would the agent even care about playing? What would they want to be more productive for? You need to care to achieve KPIs. This is how we came up with the awards tool, where all of the points an agent collects can be redeemed later on.”
Agents can exchange their points for bonus payments or other rewards, such as time off. It’s up to the employees to decide when they want to cash these prizes out, so they don’t have to wait for their managers to notice how well they are performing to be rewarded for their work.
It’s not about competing
While Strokan and the rest of the Ticketless team were conducting their research, they realised that adding a ranking system to the platform would make things needlessly competitive.
“We don’t want to make them compete with each other and we don’t want a leader board of the top performers,” she said.
“We did a lot of research on that and both managers and agents think it can be quite negative or create more pressure. It’s proven in research that with a leader board, the only people who get motivated are those in the top three, and maybe the two people below it.”
Anyone outside of the top rankings can feel discouraged or disconnected, Strokan added. “People outside of the top five can feel like there’s no point. They think, we’ll never make it to the top five, so why bother?
“We want to change this atmosphere. We want them to feel more empowered. There’s enough pressure in customer support – we don’t want to add anymore.”
A surprising market
Strokan explained that, initially, the company intended to target start-ups that were at the stage of raising Series A and Series B funding.
“These businesses need to optimise performance and they need to keep up with the quality of their service as their businesses grow quickly. We thought that this would be the key market, and we still do, but when we launched in the marketplace, we found out that huge enterprises can also install us directly from the marketplace.
“We thought we’d have to approach large sales and enterprise companies, but they came to us. We’re surprised by some of the installs we get!”
The gamified version of Dojo will be released in late November. Ticketless currently has a number of companies using a private version of the platform through its early-access programme, while others are using a free analytics version of Dojo that is currently available in the Zendesk marketplace.
At this point, Strokan pulled out her laptop and opened a slideshow that outlined some of these larger businesses that have already adopted this version. The list included companies such as Pandora, Talixo, Huel, WeTransfer and Pornhub.
In the near future, Ticketless aims to raise €600,000 in pre-seed funding. If the company is successful, Strokan said that the aim is to invest in marketing and expanding to other platforms, with a firm eye on future growth.
Updated, 12.00pm, 5 November 2019: This article was updated to clarify that Dojo is the name of Ticketless’s platform, and that the full gamified version of Dojo will be released later this month.