We use the same feedback loops as online games in order to improve customer service at our call centers.

By Ben Hanrahan, Xerox researcher

“Game dynamics in the workplace helps [call center] agents and their managers to set priorities, and also provides agents with a common challenge that they can collaborate on and talk about.” -- Ben Hanrahan, Xerox researcher

“Game dynamics in the workplace helps [call center] agents and their managers to set priorities, and also provides agents with a common challenge that they can collaborate on and talk about.” — Ben Hanrahan, Xerox researcher

Call center agents often say they feel uncertain about their performance, and that they receive too little feedback from their managers on how they are interacting with customers. This is not very comforting for businesses, such as airlines and credit card companies that rely on these agents as front-line ambassadors.

Xerox researchers have invented software that uses gaming techniques to provide feedback to call center agents and encourage teamwork.

Our studies on call centers indicate that embedding game dynamics in the workplace helps agents and their managers to set priorities, and also provides agents with a common challenge that they can collaborate on and talk about.

I led a team of social scientists at the Xerox Research Centre Europe (XRCE) who studied various aspects of how call center agents work, and we gained a better understanding of their challenges. The result is the Xerox Agent Performance Indicator software (Xerox API).

Over the course of the workday, Xerox API provides agents with continuous feedback on their performance in a fun, interactive way. Using green, yellow and red color codes, agents can see how they are doing in areas such as time spent on a call, number of calls handled, and other key performance indicators. Traditional feedback methods involve a manager emailing performance reports to agents once or twice a day.

Agents who use the technology show improvement on standard performance measures such as the amount of time spent solving a customer problem. The tool also has helped streamline the relationship between managers and their team.

This innovative approach to providing support and immediate feedback to call center agents has been well-received, earning us an Innovation Award from the National Contact Center Association in The Netherlands where it was first deployed.

The technology has been deployed to over 1,500 agents working in Xerox contact centers in Europe that provide customer care services for 25 Xerox customers.

Xerox plans to roll out the tool to other countries (about 150), including the United States. Xerox has more than 48,000 call center employees who handle more than a million consumer interactions every day via the phone and Web,