Increase IT Service Desk Agent Motivation with Employee Experience Feedback

Posted on Tuesday 25 June 2019.

By Sami Kallio, CEO, HappySignals
You’ve probably heard the Richard Branson quote, that “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” But have you ever stopped to think about it from an IT support perspective – with your IT service desk agents as the employees and their end users as the clients?
This blog looks at service desk agent work motivation. Whether and how they feel valued. Whether they feel that they’re doing their job (and work) “for a motivating reason.” And how a near real-time continuous feedback loop can help to increase their motivation and attitudes, plus the employee experience.


The many issues with traditional IT service desk metrics
When you consider the many metrics applied to your IT service desk agents, are they predominantly focused on “how many?” and “how fast?” With customer satisfaction the obvious exception.
As I wrote in my previous blog, “…traditional service desk metrics drive the wrong behaviors. That, in particular, agents are currently measured by speed and not the value they create. In practice, they’re measured on ‘how fast they get rid of their customers’.”
So, are volume and speed metrics really the best way to measure your IT support success? And, just as importantly, will the statistics around volumes and speed do much, if anything, to motivate your agents?
What influences a better employee (end-user) experience?
What do you think it takes to deliver a great employee experience? The best processes? The best technology? Or the best people? I imagine that you probably replied (in your head) – the best people. Or you might have been greedy and said all three.
Of course, I could have flipped this, and asked: “What do you think is likely to deliver the worst employee experience?” Subpar processes? Subpar technology? Or subpar people? Hopefully, your answer to this would again be people.
My point is that your people – your IT service desk agents – are incredibly important to the quality of your IT support and the delivered employee experience.
The next obvious question is then: “How are they important?” And the answer is probably not what you think.
Our three years’ worth of employee experience measurement data highlights the different factors involved in creating unhappy versus happy employees. This is shown below:


It shows the importance of service desk agent attitude (second at 50%) in making employees happy (the pink chart), versus the lack of significance (last at 6%) in making unhappy employees (the purple chart).
Explaining the importance of service desk agent attitude
If you’re new to our employee experience management approach, then this probably needs to be explained further:
  • If employees rated the IT support service received somewhere between bad and OK (i.e. they rated the service 0-8 out of 10), the service desk agent’s attitude was a contributing reason in only 6% of cases.
  • If employees rated the IT support service received highly, at either 9 or 10, 50% said a contributing reason was the analyst’s attitude.
From this, we can conclude that it’s unlikely for an IT service desk to get a high average employee experience score if they don’t have agents with the right mindset. (Plus, on the other hand, that IT service desks can be proud that it’s only rarely that the agent attitude is causing issues). With the agent’s attitude likely to be strongly influenced by their level of job motivation and their feeling of engaging in meaningful work.
Hence, IT service desks need to consider the agent experience when aiming to increase the employee experience (of end users).
Reinforcing that agent experience must not be forgotten
Using a third-party data set to help substantiate both the applicability of the earlier Richard Branson quote to IT support and the importance of agent attitude to employee experience, the MetricNet chart below shows the correlation between agent job satisfaction and customer satisfaction, i.e. the higher the agent job satisfaction, the higher the customer (employee) satisfaction:

Source: MetricNet (2018)

There’s another important point to consider here too – that if agent experience isn’t monitored and improved as needed, you’ll likely keep losing the best talent from your organization (or from your managed service provider).
How best to improve service desk agent motivation and attitude
Our customers have found that agents with good attitudes will likely have even better attitudes in a better working environment. Plus, those with not-so-great attitudes will likely see an uplift.
Employee experience measurement helps in two respects here. Firstly, as the best way to measure agent attitude from the employee perspective (which might offer up a totally different viewpoint to that of immediate management).
Secondly, employee experience measurement provides a continuous feedback loop that gives analysts near real-time positive feedback from the people they’ve just helped. Making them feel better about themselves and their work, and creating a virtuous circle where their higher motivation and better attitude then further improve their performance and outcomes.
While this starts with the agent only seeing their own feedback scores and comments, gamification can also be used to further boost agent happiness through attitude and skill league tables.
So, how’s the motivation of your IT service desk agents? If you’re merely measuring them based on their speed, then it’s likely not motivating them or improving their attitude. But by measuring their performance based on how they make the customer feel, providing them with feedback immediately after a ticket is resolved changes how they feel at work and their ability to better serve their business colleagues. It’s what our customers at HappySignals are doing, and if you want to find out more, then just book a meeting here.


More information about SDI’s and HappySignals’ joint ‘Employee Experience Trial Programme 

SDI has teamed up with HappySignals to give you a brilliant new SDI community offer: month’s free access for measuring Employee and Customer Satisfaction with the HappySignals product.
Learn More >>



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