Tale of how Veeam tech support introduced gamification

    As all decent stories of successful implementation have been established, it all started more with random phrases and conversations in the kitchen than with a thorough study of the idea, an in-depth analysis of the situation and implementation options under the current conditions. Personal initiative, involvement in the process and unhealthy gleam in the eyes bring much more fruit than even the most interesting, but imposed from above, task. We’ll talk about this today - as in Veeam, in the product technical support department (the largest department after the sales people, by the way), such a still-exotic beast as gamification was successfully introduced to us.

    Gamification for us did not become a magic pill, turning everything into a flowering garden, as some experts think. that is not her task at all. It merely allowed us to solve those problems that it was really intended to solve.

    And no magic, only sleight of hand.

    Do not look under the cut for a set of specific recipes and solutions, because we want to describe the path we have traveled and the most important milestones on it that everyone who is thinking about introducing game mechanics in their company or department has to go through.

    Agree on terminology

    First of all, we determine what gamification is for us. Judging by the information in Runet in general and on Habré in particular, it may seem that gamification is a kind of magic wand that can be brought to any ashes, wave a couple of times, clap your hands, legs top and everything will spin as it works, and happiness will come to all. But she just has to wave in some completely mystical way, accompanying each wave with another portion of money. And the main rule - do not leave the sales department! Gamification works only in sales!

    Or, to put it a little more seriously, now, from the height of the path traveled, we can confidently say that there is no adequate or adapted information in RuNet (or almost none), and that which is sometimes makes you hide under the bed and cry. Particularly acute is the lack of a description of practical solutions or at least implementation methodologies.

    Unfortunately, in this area we are very cool behind our Western colleagues, so today we want to share our experience in the practical application of the ideas of gamification and we hope that it will be useful to someone.

    We will not talk about mythical ideas, but about a specific tool that has been successfully mastered and applied to solve the tasks. He did not solve all the problems, because and not called to do this. In our case, we provided the engineers with an opportunity to escape from routine work processes (because, as you know, the best rest is a change of activity), providing them with an affordable tool for analyzing and comparing their performance, and, as a result, increased their overall involvement in the work process. And the department management, for its part, received a flexible tool for soft management of employee behavior and a set of unique metrics for analysis. Agree that sounds tempting.


    When any company develops rapidly across all horizons, not only the resources of all its departments increase accordingly, but a completely new kind of problems appears that simply cannot appear until a certain point. In our case, this moment was a complex phenomenon, but a turning point was destined to be the release of a new release of our flagship product Veeam Backup & Replication, then at number 7.

    On the one hand, it was a great time for the post-release surge in sales with the expected increase in the number of requests for technical support. It was only that expectations diverged from reality, and the moment of control over the flow of appeals was frankly missed, as a result of which the new employees did not have time to take a full course of the young soldier and the fledgling chicks threw their breasts on the embrasure, while the old soldiers restrained the attack on all fronts . It was a really difficult period, and people began to burn out. The quality of their work, as technical personnel, did not fall, but the letters more and more resembled the template answers of robots, and the client's waiting time on the phone grew steadily. At some point, the execution of applications began to resemble a conveyor for sending letters of the same type, and the whole department began to exist on the principle of work-time_on_son-work. It became obvious that the time for change had come.


    Here we need to make a small remark about our beloved department and explain what principles are laid in the foundation of his work. I’ll also talk about what goals we set for ourselves, in addition to the obvious desire to quickly and efficiently resolve technical difficulties encountered by clients.

    On Habré there were already several articles devoted to Veeam technical support ( link once , link two), and those who are interested in learning more can turn to them, but in short, we are very proud of our level of customer satisfaction (metric with the ambiguously translated name Customer satisfaction). According to estimates based on reviews that customers can leave after completing each case, we have this level with confidence at 98% - 99%, which is a very high indicator for the industry. In practice, this means that, first of all, we are working with a specific person, and not with a depersonalized problem. The aftertaste that remains with the client after contacting technical support is important to us. This attitude gives the client a sense of engagement of the engineer in his particular case and increases mutual comfort during a conversation, as initially, all customers are somewhat annoyed.

    To measure the level of customer satisfaction from contacting international support is a task, frankly, not trivial. This is not the level of sales that can be measured with a ruler. It can not be measured by the number of positive reviews since, for example, the Spaniards, as one, write reviews, and it is much more important to them what the engineer talked about while the server was rebooting than the quality of the information received. On the other hand, feedback from IT specialists from the CIS space comes only in case of customer dissatisfaction. Apparently, it’s still not accepted to write positive reviews with us. Therefore, you have to spin and invent a balanced assessment method.

    So, at that time we had a department of about 40 engineers, the average age did not exceed 25 years, absolutely everyone was technically savvy, spoke several languages, smart, ambitious and, as it turned out later, like to meet innovations like true template introverts - with a huge suspicion.

    The department should be developed, and staff turnover should not be allowed in any way due to the moral fatigue of engineers. That is why it is very important to monitor the involvement of engineers in the work, not allowing the transformation of a working day into a set of routine operations that can kill all the desire to return to the office the next day with amazing speed. Sometimes a week is enough for a person to burn out completely.

    Contrary to popular belief, it is impossible to artificially increase employee motivation. If he is tired of his field of activity, then soon he will cease to do this, and, if not completely, but his productivity will drop to a minimum. It is useless to raise his salary, promise any enticing bonuses and buns. These are all temporary measures. Raising the level of motivation of technicians through tools of external vanity is a myth, it can only be dropped to the plinth, so forget about increasing motivation.

    On the other hand, the department’s management needs a tool that allows it to discreetly peep at the activity of its employees, draw conclusions and gently strangle emerging problems in the bud. Traditional metrics cannot provide this data, as they provide an insufficiently operational “average hospital temperature”. You can very meticulously record all the actions of an engineer, but how to compare the performance of a theoretical engineer who opens a lot of logs, gives a solution and writes a detailed letter with correction instructions, with the productivity of a practical engineer, which is easier to call and configure everything yourself than to write multi-volume letters , - this is not known to science. But there are still appeals promising half a day on the phone, or questions on finding the right paragraph in the documentation. In a word - standard quantitative indicators,

    In the beginning there was an idea

    So, the problem was there, and we had to solve it. It was a great time when trial and error rules ruled the ball. Even the craziest ideas were successfully introduced into the production process, and universally recognized world practices were either not applicable at all, or simply did not work due to reasons such as mentality.

    In such an environment, during one of the meetings, someone mentioned the topic of today's article. We tried to discuss the idea, but it turned out that apart from the name and some fragmentary knowledge at the definition level, no one knows anything from Wikipedia. Everyone just heard something about the introduction of game mechanics, achievements, points and the fact that it is very healthy and good.

    Well, we talked alright, but, as always, there was one person who was hooked by the idea and who subsequently developed the idea on his bare enthusiasm before the military introduction. For which many thanks to him from all of us.

    Start digging

    Immediately a problem arose, identified at the very beginning of the article - a terrible lack of information. Almost information hunger. Googled everything that could somehow shed light on implementation practices, but pretty soon it became clear that, apart from general descriptive articles and elementary truths, nothing sensible could be found.
    The only thing that was worth attention was a recording of Aliya Rakimgulova’s speech (which can be easily found on the open spaces of the network), where she very well described a real implementation example.

    And when the first notes of the desire to quit rang, help came from where they did not wait - a whole course was found at Сouseradedicated to this topic, which so successfully started in the near future. To say that the knowledge gained there was priceless, is modestly silent. Free online training has shown itself in all its glory. It was clear that the lecturer knew what he was talking about, so at the end of the course I had a set of well-structured knowledge in my head, the necessary books were ordered on Amazon, and the implementation plan began to take on the first signs of adequacy.

    In total, the stage of theoretical preparation took about 3 months.

    Means and goals

    So, the disposition is known, the possibilities are obvious, it is time to analyze the internal processes and separate the grains from the chaff. It is crucial at this stage not only to understand what the average engineer is doing, but also to clearly define what we really want to get from him as a result of the working day: i.e. what exactly needs to be paid more attention to, where you can be simpler, and where it doesn’t happen at all what was intended. Such an analysis is very useful in itself, because allows you to take a sober look at the entire existing system and notice obvious problems that for some reason have not been solved once there long ago, and now exist as a given, because there is nothing more permanent than temporary solutions.

    In our case, for the engineer, as the consumer of the new service, the idea of ​​absolute transparency of all processes related to gamification, which should not distract him from work, was chosen as the most important factor for the success of the upcoming enterprise, and they (background gamification processes) should be completely autonomous . No new or unnecessary actions on the part of employees should be performed.

    The second most important was the condition for the engineer to receive feedback on the effectiveness of his work in a convenient (read: easy to understand for a mere mortal) form and the ability to compare his successes with other employees. Subsequently, this gives rise to the very element of the game and competition, due to which the involvement of the engineer in the performance of certain tasks is increased. But it is unacceptable to miss an important point - it is often wrong to measure people with absolute indicators. Bare numbers (taken out of the context of the task) are often useless and even harmful, so you need to calibrate all measured metrics based on their business specifics. The idea is that each engineer must solve his own and his own tasks (and the plan for them may be different, since the tasks of different engineers may have different complexity), and at the end of the month to see

    According to the results of his work, the engineer should receive certain assets — Achievements and Points. Each action brings a certain number of points, and a set of actions formed on some basis (take 10 phone calls, for example), brings an achievement and the number of points associated with it. Obtaining a certain set of achievements brings a more valuable integrated achievement, which, in turn, brings an even greater number of points. Ultimately, points can be transformed into specific tangible and / or intangible benefits for employees (“rewards”).

    And in the end, do not forget about the moment with managing people: managers and team leads of the department get a very interesting set of structured tasks-metrics, modifying which you can effectively control the behavior of employees, as well as analyze their performance over a given period of time. For example, if we see that the waiting time on the phone of customers, say, from France is growing, we increase the number of points for receiving calls from this region, thereby increasing the engineer’s interest in such calls. This is an extremely simple, but very clear example.

    Search for an artist

    After the goals became clear and clearly formulated, the most interesting part began: the choice of the platform.

    Historically, we work in CRM Salesforce, and since one of the fundamental principles was simplicity for an engineer, we immediately refused to introduce new third-party applications. Our goal was to find a plug-in - a module that is fully integrated into Salesforce without popups, tray icons and other husks that distract engineers from work.

    Then an ordinary sheet of white paper appeared on the stage, but a very large sheet on which was painted a plate with a list of companies that claim to be able to provide the functionality we need. The first sample included 12 applicants, among whom there were 2 decisions from compatriots. But, unfortunately, they were soon mercilessly weeded out along with many others.

    Domestic solutions were quickly eliminated due to the lack of experience with Salesforce, which did not gain much penetration in the CIS for a number of reasons. And, frankly, there was a feeling that these developers just wanted to get this new experience for them for our money, without guaranteeing the result. Or guaranteeing, but only if, in case of failure, we begin to use SharePoint, for which they have everything ready. “Cinema and the Germans” in one word.

    The situation was more rosy with European and American suppliers, but ¾ of them were deleted due to the absolute unwillingness to change anything in their product. And this is despite the fact that any decision on gamification cannot be boxed by definition. This is always rebuilding for the customer, with implementation and debugging. And the stamp is to blame for the fact that gamification is exclusively for increasing sales. Only after hearing that we need to implement our own logic for constructing metrics, most of them said that they were not interested, they have cool graphs with the number of sales, and this is the same dream limit for every client, and crazy Russians again come up with what.

    Then it turned out that a number of solutions represented an unnecessary corporate social network where company employees (for points and achievements) would need to communicate (in addition to Facebook and VKontakte), upload photos, send work requests to each other and discuss news. As I said above, our goal was to make gamification transparent, unobtrusive, not distracting from work and organically integrated into the existing business process. Therefore, the idea of ​​introducing a new “social network” was not good for us.
    Several solutions were completely puzzled by the lack of any kind of automation of processes. To give an achievement, the manager must go into the system and enter its data by hand. To build and send a report - go into the system, specify the parameters and click the “form” button, wait for the process to finish and send it to the mailing address. And all hands! And such systems, it is worth saying, cost a lot of money, and, apparently, buy them, because they are present on the market. “The 21st century is in the yard!”, You cannot say otherwise.

    As a result of this impromptu tender, there was only one developer company from distant America, which really surprised us with the desire to take on such a non-trivial task that we needed, and, as it turned out later, the idea of ​​moving away from the classical canons of the genre so captured their entire company (which is far not a startup), that in some cases the CEO of the company did not hesitate to edit the system code on the air during test launches and demonstrations. In other words, they perfectly understood our ideas and agreed that the practices of one department (Sales) could not be directly transferred to another (Support). This laid the foundation for our successful cooperation with IActionable.

    And the battle struck

    The first cone that flew into the forehead at the stage of technical implementation was waiting for us in a rather unexpected place - all gaming systems do not have a period of free testing. No, from the word "completely." They explained to us that this is such a niche feature, and no one wants to abandon it. If you want to know if gamification will be useful to you, pay for the trial period and pay a lot. To finance such experiments with an unknown result for a lot of money, of course, no one will agree, but wears away water and stone, so after negotiations we managed to achieve a result that suits both sides.

    Then, work began directly on introducing the gamification module into the existing business system. I think that most habrazhiteli never faced Salesforce, therefore I will make a small remark about this CRM. In fact, it’s just a huge database that provides flexible tools for creating your own access interface to it. Thus, setting up Salesforce is not just “including a set of checkmarks” - it is a full-fledged development, which, if you like, is similar to setting up a well-known accounting product for a specific company. Therefore, you can’t just bring some code and connect it as a module to an existing system. The developers of the module, first of all, should communicate quite tightly with the developers who have customized the customer’s system, and only then begin the implementation.

    In our case, the whole process took almost five months, three of which went to testing and revision. After completing the closed tests, when all the metrics were processed in the way we needed, a knight move was made - the system was connected to the combat production, but only with the interface turned off completely - i.e. in fact, engineers already began to use it then, only they did not know this. This was the stage of final tests, debugging and accumulation of statistics of “ordinary work of engineers” for the correct calibration of the cost of achievements.

    Audience reaction

    Omitting the details of the presentation of the system to engineers, because everything is pretty obvious here, I want to talk about the involvement of engineers in finalizing the system itself. At the time of the launch, the filling with gamification content left much to be desired, and the guys themselves asked for “access to the body” to help fill the system with achievements, and it was decided to let them turn around. As a result, in the titles and descriptions of achievements you can find references to almost any area of ​​interest of our employees - from games and movies, to anime and books.

    Here are examples of the names of achievements awarded for solving a certain number of cases from a certain country: Memento Mori, Big in Japan, I Fink U Freeky !, ɐıʃɐɹʇsn∀ sǝsɐƆ 51 ǝsoʃƆ (my favorite), etc. I think there is no need to explain which stereotypes from which countries were taken. Industry jokes were not forgotten, such as the canonical one: I Am Putting My Screwdriver Everywhere.

    Several rare and epic “achievements of increased value” have been created, which are issued not only as special successes in work, but also as simply physically difficult to carry out actions. How do you, for example, “close 10 calls from Malta”? I can say with full confidence that the customers from Malta are now the most beloved and expected.

    Icons were not forgotten. Every single one was drawn by the engineers of the department, and the process of their refinement continues constantly.

    In general, the implementation went quite smoothly and according to the expected scenario. A pre-selected group of the most active (read “playing games”) employees successfully created the necessary “noise background” and helped those who were new to this system to get comfortable. A small part of people reacted with predictable suspicion, but soon they were assimilated by the system with varying degrees of success.

    We believe that another important goal was achieved - no one was indifferent.


    Now, when 4 months have passed since the start of implementation, we are ready to draw some conclusions.
    • Gamification is not a myth, but an excellent tool for managing business processes;
    • It is impossible to carry out implementation without clear goals. It is necessary to soberly assess existing problems, and whether they can be solved with the help of this tool;
    • Having created healthy competition among your employees (due to the emergence of a generally accessible “leadership board”), be prepared to be surprised at increased productivity;
    • Absolutely not applicable templates. Your specific gaming system will only work with your specific people. If you come from other departments with the desire to copy a ready-made solution, then be prepared to cool their ardor;
    • Do not force the game with hot iron. Start with the most active, they will infect the rest;
    • You cannot replace real people management with a game. There should always be a clear boundary, beyond which the game ends and the dry language of business begins. People should not work for the game, but for the business.

    We plan to publish more detailed results in 3 months, when the initial boom finally subsides and the system enters combat mode. Then it will be possible to talk about the correctness of the statistics and compare it before and after.
    But if someone is interested in more detailed details regarding this or that aspect, then welcome to comment.

    Well, if you want to join our friendly team - welcome to our career site!

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